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Famous Baby by Karen Rizzo
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Famous Baby

by Karen Rizzo

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I got an advance copy of this book through Library Thing, although I didn't get to it until more than a year after I first received it. I finally read it because I was looking for some quick fiction to cleanse my palate from all of the nonfiction I've been reading (despite my better judgment, I've been on a self-help kick, although you won't see that looking at my Goodreads lists because I'm keeping all of those titles under the radar. If I don't log them, they never happened).

At any rate, this book. This book was okay. The premise was intriguing, especially for me as a blogger who writes about her kids (although I am NOT a mommy-blogger), but the execution was just not there. This felt like an early draft of a book, like if Rizzo had done a couple more re-writes with a great editor, this could have built into something meaningful.

Instead, it just feels shallow. The characters are underdeveloped (why the heck is Eric there and what does Abbie see in him?), inconsistent (Harry and his quiet calm that morphs into combative freak-outs by the end of the book), and they merge into one another (those elderly people were essentially all the same person. Claire stands out a little, and maybe Miguel, but everyone else is pretty interchangeable. A list of facts does not an individual character make).

And then there's the conflict between mothers and daughters. This is really what I think could have been deepened with a re-write or three. I buy Abbie's reaction to her mother's blog and tell-all way of living, but I do not buy the resolution. I know that Esther and Missy are supposed to be part of some kind of breaking point for Ruth forcing her to finally see how her actions affect those around her, but I just don't see it, and those two characters seemed tacked on rather than integrated into the story.

That said, I did finish the book, which I considered not doing, so that's evidence that there's something going for it. Like I said, there's so much promise in the premise, but in the end, I just felt disappointed.

(Oh, and it's buds, not leaves that you smoke. But perhaps this ended up getting corrected before publication.) ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Sep 23, 2015 |
Pointless and irritating. Did not finish. ( )
  busyreadin | May 26, 2015 |
Good audiences for this book are stay-at-home-blogger-to-be-moms, high-schoolers entrenched in TMI (Too Much Information) activities, and of course victims of TMI needing ideas for contending with an absence of control over their own stories.

The premise for “Famous Baby” is timely and clever. A profitable blogger mommy crafts a blog about her child and family and bleeds them for material so badly that they become estranged and like New Age zombies.

Set in LA and Arizona, the story is told through two contrasting points of view belonging to Mother, Ruth, and daughter Abbie. The story is narrated by Abbie, disenfranchised from her mother’s blog and narcissistic betrayal of her privacy, and Ruth who hungers after her mother Esther’s final days of life for her blog.

Abbie, a knowing victim, kidnaps her grandma and schemes to protect her last days and escort Esther to the afterlife. Minor male characters fill in the blanks which explain the character’s conflicts while moving the plot forward, but “Famous Baby” really covers mother/daughter torch-passing the good, bad, unmentioned and ugly.

Overall entertaining, the ending was trite and predictable. While the characters were quirky and interesting almost David Lynch-like, they were fairly shallow and underdeveloped. Lastly, I didn’t care for the random side-bars and nods to Jim Carey’s, “Alrighty then!” It was distracting, disjunct and way too corny. Not sure if I’ll shelve this one or leave it on the table at the Spa... ( )
  BetsyKipnis | May 26, 2015 |
This is a good novel and would be a particularly good choice for book discussion groups because the insightful treatment of controversial aspects of social media and social change in general would make for a very lively discussion. Rizzo has written a good story, peopled with characters that are engaging, funny, sometimes mean and complicated and grappling with a complex array of questions associated with mother-daughter relationships, honesty, privacy in today's culture, end of life issues and a host of others. Very nicely done. ( )
  turtlesleap | May 8, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was given this book as an Early Review in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this book. I thought the daughter's character Abbie was interesting, I thought the mother's character Ruth was obnoxious and selfish and I loved the grandmother, as well as Abbie's elderly friends- who were hilarious and adorable. This was a fun book, with interesting emotions lived by these ladies, and it was well worth reading. ( )
  kastelling | Apr 5, 2015 |
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"Ruth Sternberg was the first and most famous mommy blogger, and now, eighteen years later, daughter and blog subject Abbie is understandably bitter about her public exploitation. So she takes a gap year to get away from the scrutiny and her overbearing mother. When she hears that her beloved grandmother is moving in with Ruth after receiving a terminal diagnosis, she rightly suspects that her mother has found a new subject to write about on her blog. Abbie can't bear the notion that her grandmother's suffering will be shared with the nation, so she kidnaps her, sending her doting but misguided mother into a panic. Famous Baby wisely and hilariously explores mother love, identity, and the hazards of parental over-sharing in the social media age.Karen Rizzo is the author of the Book Sense Pick Things to Bring, S#!;and Other Inventories of Anxiety, a memoir built around her penchant for lists. Rizzo's stories and essays have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Salon, Fit Pregnancy, and women's humor anthologies, and her plays have been staged at several theaters. Famous Baby is her first novel. Rizzo lives with her actor husband and two children in Los Angeles, California. "--… (more)

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