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The International Writers Magazine: Young Fiction

Consequences… Don’t call me baby by Laurie Depp
Hodder Children's Books; (Oct 2007); paperback pages: 256
ISBN13: 9780340930397

Alana Hebenton

Don’t call me baby follows the life of eighteen year old Katie Meredith when she gets her dream job as a nanny to the kids of Britain’s golden couple, Kassie and Brett Ballentine. Brett’s a premiership footballer and Kassie’s a press obsessed ex-pole dancer. Katie can’t believe her luck but her 21st century fairy tale isn’t all it seems and the cracks soon start to show as Brett is soon revealed as rude and unapproachable, taking the term ‘playing the field’ a little to literally and Kassie’s behaviour gets increasingly strange and desperate throughout. Stuck in the middle of their marriage battlefield, Katie is left looking after the children, unable to trust her friends and boyfriends as more and more stories about the Ballentines are leaked to the press.
Told from the perspective of Katie, Don’t call me baby creates a realistic teenage voice with is use of contemporary cultural references to ‘Hello’ magazine and celebrities like David Beckam, and the relatable everyday teenage problems that Katie’s faces, with a cheating boyfriend and jealous friends. This use of culture references, in conjunction with the relatable issues, also allows readers to see the novel’s close link and relevance to everyday British life. In between Katie’s accounts, Don’t call me baby includes magazine clippings, these not only reinforce the media obsessed theme of the book, but also give the reader a celebrity life history of Brett and Kassie Ballentine.

The intimate conversational style of the book also allows readers to empathise with Katie’s character and by the end of the book the reader really cares what is going to happen in her love, family and work life. The simple use of language and the breaking up of text with magazine clippings, in addition to making the text entertaining and reflecting the influence of the media on our culture, make the text a fast easy read, allowing Don’t call me baby to be accessible to a wider audience.

Although Don’t call me baby does create a realistic teenage voice, considering that the story is set up as to giving an inside look at the world of celebrity, the book often lacks detailed description, skimming over key events in the book. For example, at the celebrity filled ball that Katie attends, there are only a few lines of description and then the story returns to Katie’s thoughts and teenage angst. Similarly, throughout the book, there are underlying references and clues to Brett’s adultery, but when it comes to his confession, the reader isn’t told any of the ‘consequences’. This is just a tad frustrating.

However, even with the lack of description and limited consequences Laurie Depp's fiction is still an entertaining read, saying a lot about our media celebrity obsessed culture where a teenager’s dream job is to work as a nanny for a footballer and ex-pole dancer. And although its not very deep Don’t call me baby still does give a brief insight into the life of a celebrity couple, whose similarities to Posh and Becks and Jude and Sienna can’t be ignored.

© alana hebenton November 2007

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