Published: February 25th, 2021
Publisher: Viper Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
I am thrilled to be one of the bloggers opening the blog tour for this sensational debut. Thank you to Viper Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.
THIS MOTHER’S DAY YOU WILL CALL HER MUMMY
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…
CALL ME MUMMY. IT’LL BE BETTER IF YOU DO.
“From the moment I clasped my sister’s doll to my chest, I yearned for a child of my own. I knew it would take a miracle. And here she is!”
A number of days after finishing this book I am still at a loss as to how to write this review and do it justice. I was expecting this book to be fantastic; I had no doubt that Ms. Baker’s vivacious charisma and hilarity would carry over into her writing. I was not disappointed. In fact, Ms. Baker exceeded my already high expectations to craft a striking, original and accomplished debut that left me excited to read more from the author.
All Mummy has ever wanted is a child. But by a cruel twist of fate, she has been unable to have a child. So when she sees a beleaguered Kim snapping at her children in the shop it is like a knife to her heart. How can someone like her be blessed with the gift of a child that she doesn’t appreciate when it is all she wants? In an instant, Mummy decides to rescue the poor child. But she is unprepared for Tonya’s resistance and the realities of motherhood and is enraged that her picture-perfect image is not coming to fruition. Meanwhile, Kim is finding herself demonised by the press and public after she refuses to conform to their rules and expectations. She begins to fall apart and lash out at those around her, unable to see anything but her own pain. And then there is little Tonya, a scared, confused child who just wants to go home.
This story is every parents’ worst nightmare come true. It captures the evil that lurks in the shadows and the nefarious face behind the guise of a beautiful mask. Sharply observed, darkly funny and as subtle as a sledgehammer, this made me feel ALL the feelings. I loved the short chapters, choppy writing style and how there was a tempo of malevolence and despair that runs through the narrative. The characters and story were so unpredictable that it was impossible to guess what would happen next and my heart was in my throat over and again as I read in breathless anticipation of the next shocking twist.
“They want the chavs, the scum, lost souls like her, to rip each other apart in the name of entertainment, so observers like her can sit on their high fucking horses, looking down on their godforsaken misfortunes.”
The story is told from multiple points of view. Our main narrators are Mummy and Kim, with regular short chapters from young Tonya. Each had their own very distinct voice and character that felt vivid and real. At first glance, Mummy and Kim couldn’t be more different; but they are characters rich with nuance and complexities that unveil surprising similarities that would horrify both women. Mummy is menacing, capricious and chilling. Appearances are very important to her and she is very particular about the face and character that she shows people. But underneath the mask she is a woman haunted by the mental and physical scars of past trauma. A powder keg just waiting for that final spark before it blows. Kim is the opposite; she is course, foul-mouthed and has no time for airs or graces or putting on a show. She is unapologetically who she is. And underneath she is also haunted by past traumas, teetering on the edge of a breakdown.
Like Mummy and Kim, Tonya is wonderfully written. She isn’t your stereotypical pretty, likeable child who is easy to please. Full of personality, but not the kind that Mummy had hoped for, she is a foul-mouthed, sour-faced, fierce and contentious little girl who fights Mummy every step of the way. I loved everything about her and she certainly found a place in my heart.
Longing, obsession, pain and trauma seep from every pore of this book and its characters, the author holding my heart in her hands as she examines topics such as mental health issues, trauma, infertility, addiction, eating disorders, neglect, and domestic and sexual abuse. She looks at the effects of trauma on the psyche and how it filters down into our very being, affecting how we treat ourselves and others, sometimes with catastrophic effects. The author shows these subjects without any gloss, exposing their dark side and the wounds that can fester from such pain. She also addresses society’s expectations and judgements of mothers, particularly in situations such as a child abduction when many people seem to think they are fair game and use it as an opportunity to break them down even further instead of offering kindness and support.
Compelling, bold, tense, thought-provoking and unsettling, this twisty page-turner had me on the edge of my seat. This is an astonishing debut that you do not want to miss. READ IT NOW!
TW: mental health, infertility, eating disorders, neglect, sexual abuse, domestic abuse.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Tina 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, partly inspired by her own unsuccessful attempts to have a child. Despite the grief and disappointment of that, she hasn’t stolen one. So far.
BUY THE BOOK:
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Please read the reviews from the other bloggers on the tour.
Thank you for reading. Until next time Bibliophiles, Emma xxx