MAHALIA by Joanne Horniman


Age Range: 14 & up
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In this Australian take on a teen-Dad-raising-a-baby story, newcomer Horniman offers readers a more literary and more emotional recounting than Margaret Bechard’s Hanging on to Max (2002). Matt’s daily schedule reflects the unending labor and delight that an infant brings, plus the sheer exhaustion of single parenting. Enchanted with his daughter, Matt fears that others will take over and labors to manage Magnolia all by himself. Learning that his caring for Magnolia doesn’t mean that he must do absolutely everything is at the heart of his struggle. While the Australian setting is vividly depicted, it doesn’t detract from the universality of the story, which is not told in first person, but by an omniscient narrator focused on Matt’s point of view. Roommates, friends, parents, and most of all Emmy, Magnolia’s mother, weave in and out of Matt’s life and thoughts. Sometimes painful in its depiction of the absolute focus required by a baby, this is not a glamorized version of parenthood. Matt’s choices are sometimes ridiculously incompetent, bordering on neglect, but the depth of his feeling for Magnolia provides him with an ability to learn how to do things better. The complexity that unfolds provides a depth unusual in a problem novel while remaining true to revealing the daunting labor involved in child-rearing. A refreshingly honest addition to the lean offerings depicting teen dads. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: April 8th, 2003
ISBN: 0-375-82325-5
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2003


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