Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker
Today on The Tattooed Book I’m taking a look at Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker from Viper Books. Call Me Mummy is Tina’s debut novel and you’ll find it in bookshops from 25 February 2021. Recognise the name Tina Baker? You might know her from her former career as a broadcaster and journalist. Personally, I remember her bubbly appearances on GMTV very fondly. Thanks to the lovely Miranda Jewess I was lucky enough to get my mitts on an early copy of Call Me Mummy; but what did I think of it?
Call Me Mummy is made up of three main protagonists; skummy mummy Kim, the unnamed kidnapper ‘Mummy’, and the victim of abduction, Tonya.
Mummy didn’t plan to take the little girl, but Christmas is the hardest time of year to be childless and she couldn’t resist browsing the beautiful children’s’ clothes. There, she heard the woman shouting, even swearing at her beautiful daughter. The little girl is grubby, obviously uncared for, unloved even. The woman is surrounded by a gaggle of children and is obviously pregnant with another; why is a woman like this so blessed and Mummy isn’t? Mummy must save this little girl, take her hand and help her escape to a better life.
Kim has had enough. She’s dying for a cigarette, desperate for a wee and, as always, she’s the one having to deal with the Christmas dramas while Steve’s at the bloody pub. Now her little girl, Tonya has wandered off to look at the Disney headbands. She can think again though because who can afford that for a strip of plastic? She was only out of her eyesight for a second, but that’s all it took and soon Kim is screaming Tonya’s name.
Tonya took the hand of the woman who promised to show her a kitten. Followed her for a while, but even when they went back to the woman’s house, there was no cat. The woman is mean, orders Tonya to call her Mummy but the girl is stubborn as a mule. She kicks, bites and screams. Mummy thought the little girl would be grateful for a new start in life but Tonya is as feisty as her real mother and won’t be tamed easily.
Call Me Mummy review
Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker throws you deep into the story from the very first chapter. This might make you think that there’s not much opportunity to introduce the characters, but as the novel is written from multiple perspectives, the tone of voice and inner monologues shape the different personalities immediately.
What becomes clear very quickly is that Kim and Mummy are from completely different worlds, even if they both share a devastating past. Mummy’s pristine home, designer labels and financial stability would all look perfect on paper. However; when she gets Tonya home, it becomes painfully clear to the reader than she’s not prepared to look after a child. Mummy is in love with the picture-perfect ideal of a loving daughter. She wants Tonya to be the polite, beautifully dressed daughter she always dreamed of. Instead, Tonya rages against this new woman in her life. There’s no way Tonya is calling her Mummy.
Kim is well aware of what everyone thinks of her. The newspaper headlines are crucifying her daily; the skummy mummy who let some grab her kid. And she thinks they’re right, it’s all her fault. She doesn’t react to Tonya’s kidnapping ‘normally.’ She doesn’t cry for the cameras and she’s not taking shit off of anyone. Instead, she gets mad. She’s furious at the world and at her herself. The press blames her, the internet blames her and she blames herself too. Kim is my favourite character in Call Me Mummy as I haven’t come across many people like her in novels. She’s unlikeable; not what people might think of as a traditional mother figure, and filled with pain that comes out as anger. However; as the story unfurls and her history is explained, her actions are completely understandable.
The chapters of Call Me Mummy are very brief, just a handful of pages at most. These do allow you to dip in and out but I would recommend to read it in larger chunks where possible. This is especially true of the second half where the tension ramps up and up to the nailbiting conclusion. You’ll get no spoilers from me but Mummy’s unpredictability really did leave me guessing.
Tina Baker has that enviable skill of writing in a style that appears completely effortless. The characters are not only beautifully defined, but also capture some of the horrible, judgemental thoughts we’ve all been guilty of at some point or other. I think we’ve all had those moments where we’ve judged a parent too quickly when they’ve raised their voice at their kids. I know I’ve done it, but I always check myself. I’m not a parent; I don’t know what it’s like and I don’t know what else is going on behind the scenes. Tina’s characters indulge those thoughts and judgements.
Overall, Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker is a captivating and thought-provoking read that I loved. I can see it being a great pick for book clubs because there is SO much to discuss here (as you can probably tell from how much I’ve rambled on). I’m very much looking forward to Call Me Mummy becoming a hit in 2021 and can’t wait to hear more about Tina Baker’s second novel.
If you enjoyed Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker, you’ll love After the Silence by Louise O’Neil.
Buy your copy of Call Me Mummy from Bookshop.org