Monday, September 7, 2015

Review of 'Mama's Baby, Daddy's Maybe'

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Full disclosure: I met Johnnie Griffin at the St. Joseph County Public Library in my birthplace of South Bend, Indiana, in or around the year 2007. I believe she was a professor at Indiana University South Bend at the time. She gave me advice on self-publishing at that time as part of an author event being sponsored by the library that day.

My copy of her book is a withdrawn copy from the St. Joe Library. I bought it with my own funds at a library used book sale and was not obligated in any way to review it. She neither asked me to review it nor compensated me for this review in any way.

This is beautifully written and important book, and I wish it was more widely known and read than it currently is. It deals in a fictionalized way with the impact of being born to an unmarried teenage mother on a woman's life. The heroine, Janie Snow, deals from childhood on with the effects of her father Amos's decision to seduce teenage virgin Ira Snow with no intent of continuing a relationship with her, much less concern over fathering Janie. Janie becomes the first of Ira's five children with five different fathers as Ira tries fruitlessly to recapture the first blush of love she'd so briefly known with Amos.

This book is the most sympathetic, least judgmental thing you're ever likely to read on the subject of social issues such as the generational cycle of poverty and the resentment between parents and their children. Griffin isn't out to blame anyone with her novel, but rather to get into their heads and try to understand how people sometimes seem to casually make decisions that cause difficult problems for their supposed loved ones.

Social workers and others who work closely with indigent individuals and families should read this book. For those who have similar birth circumstances, this novel may hit very close to home, and so it may be a difficult read, but at the same time it may help some readers come to terms with hard-to-face facts in their own lives.

I hope there are still more copies to check out in this library and in others, because it's a book well worth reading, and more people should pick it up.

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