Monday, April 14, 2008

Isabel and the Miracle Baby, by Emily Smith Pearce

Isabel can't stand the baby. Rebekah is supposed to be some sort of "miracle baby" but Isa just knows that thanks to it she has to share her room with a smelly gross infant, her Mom never has time for her, she has no friends (except for Tara who her Mom won't let her be friends with anymore), and she can't do anything anymore. And thanks to her Mom's cancer, Isa has to worry about fires, the sick ladies who come over every week, and now she's saddled with Ben who's just an absolute baby!

Billed as an uplifting story, this fairly short novel (130 pages or so) doesn't really get to redemption until the last few pages. Prior to that, we have to bear through an awful lot of whining and fussing. I will grant that the whole thing has an element of realism to it, but somehow it is hard to be sympathetic to a character who is selfish and mean (even if she has good reasons!). So, it makes for a hard sell of a story. And yet, I'm not sure it could have been written another way. Make your own decision about whether you can put up with it. The other issue is trying to figure out what the audience of this book is supposed to be. Adult readers will probably be more forgiving than younger readers so I envision a child giving up on this story. Older readers will simply feel that Isa is a selfish brat, while younger readers will not understand why she is so bossy and mean.

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