ROCKING THE BABIES by Linda Raymond

ROCKING THE BABIES

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

This Gloria Naylor wannabe, about two black volunteer ""grandmothers"" in a Dayton, Ohio, neonatal intensive care unit, isn't exactly boring -- just easily forgotten. Impoverished, strong, opinionated Nettle Lee discovers that her no-good, crack-addicted daughter, Yolanda, left her newborn preemie in a Port-a-Potty at the construction site of Hip Hop's Chicken Joint. Of course, the abandoned Baby X is big news, the DA is pressing for attempted murder, and Yolanda has disappeared. Nettle Lee sees a newspaper ad seeking senior women to offer TLC in the pediatric ICU and capitalizes on the chance to get close to her granddaughter without revealing her relationship to the child. She shares the rocking and feeding with Martha, a quiet, middle-class loner who still hasn't gotten over the death of her infant son decades ago. Naturally, these stereotypic characters clash. Nettle Lee thinks Martha has ""an attitude like a little brown turd"" and Martha just thinks Nettle Lee has an attitude. And so it goes as one clichÉ follows the next. The two women practically come to blows over Baby X since Martha wants to become her foster mother and Nettie Lee feels the call of blood ties. But as these women watch some preemies gain weight and leave while others, like Baby X, suffer seizures and setbacks, they begin to share their personal histories of the usual love, loss, death, poverty, racism, drugs, and dreams. Martha stops blaming the victim and comes to understand how a young woman might feel she has no other choice but to abandon her baby. And Nettle Lee finally realizes that claiming her granddaughter, giving her a chance, is more important than protecting a daughter already long gone. Raymond's debut has some good writing, good dialogue, and good anecdotes -- but not enough to make a good book.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1994
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Viking