Friday, June 30, 2017

Teen/YA Review: The Baby

Last month, I listened to the audio book The Baby, a teen/YA novel by Lisa Drakeford. It’s about what happens when a teen girl has a baby, told from the perspective of her and four of her friends.

You know when you hear a story in the news about a teenager who suddenly gives birth (usually in a public restroom somewhere) and had no idea she was pregnant? That’s how this novel begins. Best friends Olivia and Nicola are getting ready for Olivia’s birthday party as the novel opens. Nic is feeling like she’s gained some weight recently, but she’s never been skinny, and Olivia assures her she looks great. The party starts and at some point, Nic disappears. When Olivia seeks her out and finds her in the bathroom, she is shocked to see that her BFF is in labor on her bathroom floor!

Nic has her baby, and an ambulance is called (and that’s the end of the birthday party). Nic’s early months at home with her mom and her newborn are difficult, and she feels isolated and overwhelmed. Olivia is nowhere to be found, but luckily, their mutual friend, Ben, comes by often. Ben is gay and has his own difficulties, but he is very supportive of Nic. Olivia (and her little sister, Alice) is worried about her abusive boyfriend, Jonty. And though Olivia doesn’t visit Nic and the new baby, Alice, who is thought of by her peers as strange, is enthralled by baby Eliza and comes by often to help Nic.

This novel is narrated by the five main characters, in turn: Olivia, Nic, Jonty, Ben, and Alice. Each tells a section of the story, from his or her own perspective but melding together to tell the complete story. Each character is struggling with his or her own problems and secrets, which are revealed bit by bit. There are several surprising plot twists.

At first, I expected this novel to be a bit of light fluff – just some amusing teen fiction – but it turned out to have far more emotional depth than I first assumed. The novel deals with serious topics like teenage sex and pregnancy, domestic abuse, and bullying. Hearing from each character in turn adds layers of complexity to what at first seems like a simple story. It’s interesting to see that what is happening from one character’s perspective may be entirely different from what is behind the scenes with another character. The audio production was very good. I enjoyed this intricate novel even more than I expected to and look forward to reading more from this new-to-me author.

256 pages, Chicken House

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The Baby
by Lisa DrakefordHardcover

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Or purchase The Baby from Book Depository.


  1. This one sounds good. Having been pregnant, I cannot imagine not knowing, but maybe denial is a strong thing!

    1. I know! I'm also shocked by those stories. I think you are right - a lot of it is denial! Plus, it's usually very young, inexperienced girls.