Author: Laura Lane McNeal
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Pub Date: July 3, 2014
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When Ibby Bell’s father dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1964, her mother unceremoniously deposits Ibby with her eccentric grandmother Fannie and throws in her father’s urn for good measure. Fannie’s New Orleans house is like no place Ibby has ever been—and Fannie, who has a tendency to end up in the local asylum—is like no one she has ever met. Fortunately, Fannie’s black cook, Queenie, and her smart-mouthed daughter, Dollbaby, take it upon themselves to initiate Ibby into the ways of the South, both its grand traditions and its darkest secrets.
For Fannie’s own family history is fraught with tragedy,
hidden behind the closed rooms in her ornate Uptown mansion. It will take Ibby’s arrival to begin to unlock the mysteries there. And it will take Queenie and Dollbaby’s hard-won wisdom to show Ibby that family can sometimes be found in the least expected places.
Dolbaby was an exceptional story. It talks about racism, feeling alone, and dealing with a hard past. It mainly follows the story of Ibby, who after her father died she was dropped off at her grandmothers house. Her Grandmother Fannie lived in Louisiana, New Orleans. She was definitely eccentric and we could tell she had been through some crap. The story doesn't just follow Ibby, with every chapter we uncover more of Fannies past along with the past of her two maids/cook/seamstress Queenie and her daughter, Doll.
This wasn’t my kind of story and too be honest I almost didn’t finish it. But I'm really glad I pulled through. The beginning was as confusing as it was crazy. Maybe it was apt because we felt exactly the same way that Ibby felt, being thrown into this life. We didn't get the feeling that Ibby was poor, but because of her mothers spending habits, not a lot was spent on Ibby. For example she never had any birthdays. Part 1 follows Ibby growing up and starting to realize what she can and can’t do (like being best friends with a black girl) Once its apparent that her mother isn't coming back she’s sent to a Christian school and we flash forward to part 2.
Part 2 takes place 4 years later when she’s sixteen and looking for independence. Fannie wants to adopt her but can’t because her mother still has legal rights, and Ibby wants Fannie to adopt her but at the same time she still wants her mother. She learns the story of how Fannie and her grandfather (Norwood) met and how it was in a sense, love at first sight. They’re story was definitely one of my favorite things about this story. Ibby continues to push the limit by having a crush on T-Bone, who is black and like family. Near the end of part two there is yet another twist that will make you gasp and also remind you why you hate bratty white girls. And quoting grandpa Joe from Charlie and chocolate factory “Nothing good can come of spoiling a child like that.”
In part two we learn more about fannies past which makes us want to hug her but still we have a certain feeling that we haven’t heard the entire story which takes us to part 3. Its been a few years and Queenie tells Ibby she needs to come back now. From there all the secrets we had been waiting for finally tumbled out and it redeemed a star.
I really enjoyed how every character had such a different personality. Fannie was outspoken, Ibby wished that she was outspoken but she was much to shy. As for Doll she was sassy but always did what was best for everyone. Queenie knew who needed her and what needed to be done and without questions she did it.