Today it’s back to Mandie who has a review of Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker. The author certainly made an impression, featuring as Author in the Spotlight at Bloody Scotland last year, and Mandie’s been intrigued to read the book ever since. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
CALL ME MUMMY. IT’LL BE BETTER IF YOU DO.
Glamorous, beautiful Mummy has everything a woman could want. Except for a daughter of her very own. So when she sees Kim – heavily pregnant, glued to her phone and ignoring her eldest child in a busy shop – she does what anyone would do. She takes her. But foul-mouthed little Tonya is not the daughter that Mummy was hoping for.
As Tonya fiercely resists Mummy’s attempts to make her into the perfect child, Kim is demonised by the media as a ‘scummy mummy’, who deserves to have her other children taken too. Haunted by memories of her own childhood and refusing to play by the media’s rules, Kim begins to spiral, turning on those who love her.
Though they are worlds apart, Mummy and Kim have more in common than they could possibly imagine. But it is five-year-old Tonya who is caught in the middle…
This book has been on my TBR pile for a while but when I attended Bloody Scotland in September and the author appeared on the stage dressed in a bumble bee outfit to read an extract I was determined to push this up the list as what I heard really intrigued me.
Call Me Mummy is predominantly told through the viewpoints of two people, “Mummy” who’s name we never get to know and Kim who is the less than perfect mother of Tonya. There are also the occasional chapters that give the reader the chance to hear Tonya’s voice and perspective on what is happening. It is these chapters that will tug at your heart the most even when some of them bring a slight smile to your face.
When Mummy is shopping in a department store she witnesses Kim shouting at Tonya and not really paying much attention to her. When Tonya wanders off she sees this as the perfect opportunity to have the one thing that she has always wanted, a child of her own. Encouraging Tonya to go with her, she finds a way to get back to her home undetected. Despite the perfect life with a daughter that she had built up in her mind it is evident that no matter what she does Mummy will not get what she wants.
Kim is distraught when her daughter disappears but due to things in her past she is sure that it is only what she deserves and as she spirals down into a dark place she finds that slowly everyone turns against her, and she is left struggling to cope. She wants Tonya back, but she just doesn’t know how to articulate this in a way that is acceptable to the press or the keyboard warriors of social media.
The further you get into the book it really is quite evident that first appearances should not always be the ones you should believe and if you scratch beneath the surface then the reality can be quite different. This is quite a disturbing book in places as the longer the situation continues and Tonya does not conform to what is supposed to be the perfect child, “mummy” resorts to some methods of control that will make even the most hard-hearted wince and you are left wondering if there will be any happy outcome at all. Neither of the main characters are particularly likeable and as more secrets from the past are revealed you have to wonder if either woman should be a parent.
Despite the subject, the quick short chapters keep you engaged, and it is hard to believe that this is Tina Baker’s first book. I am looking forward to read what comes next.
About the Author
Tina Baker was brought up in a caravan after her mother, a fairground traveller, fell pregnant by a window cleaner. After leaving the bright lights of Coalville, she came to London and worked as a journalist and broadcaster for thirty years. She’s probably best known as a television critic for the BBC and GMTV. Call Me Mummy is Tina’s first novel.