Dollbaby’s use of the Civil Rights Movement as the backdrop for Ibby’s coming of age story made this novel a mix between The Help and The Secret Life Of Bees. After the death of her father, Liberty Bell (Ibby to her friends) was dropped off at her grandmother’s home in New Orleans. Grannie Frannie was anything but ready to have a young girl in her home, and left her two housekeepers, Dollbaby and Queenie to care for Ibby. As Ibby settled in her new home, the story used racism, secrets, and good ‘ole fashioned Southern cooking to help her see what a great gift living with her grandmother could be.
Ibby was a fun character to follow. She missed her mom, and hoped she would come back and get her, but that didn’t make her a whiny child. Instead, it helped to show her adaptability as she slowly immersed herself into her grandmother’s life and found comfort in the family home. This was one of those books where the last few pages make it work the read. The secrets that were revealed were powerful statements on race and pride.
I really enjoyed the parts of the story that flashed back to the main characters’ defining moments and actually wished the author had spent more time explaining that background. For example, Frannie was portrayed as an elderly woman set in her ways, which was a stark contrast to the scared girl who fled from a dangerous situation and ended up as a dancer in a nightclub. I also wished for some of the major events to have a clearer connection with the overall story. Dollbaby’s attitude toward equal rights was clearly displayed when she sat at a lunch counter for whites only, but I never saw that political passion again after that single event. These peaks made a great overall read but didn’t make a singularly cohesive story.
Still, this was a good read that I really enjoyed.