Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal
Opening with family trauma and tragedy, I instantly felt like part of the family. McNeal’s descriptive writing made me feel like I could look out the window and see the houses on Prytania Street passing by, feel the sweat running down my face, and feel the oppressive fear of being pushed out of the car in front of a stranger’s house with my daddy’s urn tucked under my arm.
Set in the 60’s in the South, prejudice was rampant, sit-in’s were occurring, and Miss Winnie employed a “colored” cook and maid. Twelve-year-old Ibby (Liberty) had never talked to a colored person before much less lived in a house with them. But filled with kindness and a little bit of pity, Queenie and Dollbaby (Doll) take Ibby under their wings and soothe the hurt, ease the fear, and initiate her to life in the South with an eccentric grandmother.
But these three strong women each harbor heartaches and family secrets, secrets of tragedy and crime that weave a web of interconnectedness among them that is only revealed at the end.
I loved this book for its strong women characters, its metaphors and similes, and the way the story warmly pulls you into this family. An outstanding debut for Laura Lane McNeal! This was an advance copy provided by Penguin Books.