In the 1970s, outside the town of Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada, Barbara Ann is thirteen, going into grade seven and starting a new school.
She wants what most other teenage girls want: the right hair, the right clothes, the right friends, the right boyfriend, and everything else that leads to love and happiness.
Innocence allows her to believe it’s all easily within her grasp, with the only obstacle being her over-controlling mother.
She fights and pushes against boundaries to gain the freedom she wants.
Each step a power struggle between mother and daughter.
When Barbara Ann finally meets a boy and believes all her dreams are coming true, her life shatters in ways she never saw coming.
In desperation she tries escaping her pain, but instead her anxiety and depression increase and she spirals into a “nervous breakdown”.
It is in the midst of all of this that Barbara Ann learns the depths of her mother’s betrayal and the realization of just how much she’s lost, and the need to find inner strength.
Readers will be torn between understanding a mother's interference in her daughter’s life and her daughter's emotional stress caused by the mother’s interference.
Readers will enter the world of a teenage girl and experience what life’s like from her point of view… experiencing anxiety, loss, grief and depression.
The cover design is adequate but I have a feeling that this author, who is a gifted artist working in bold colours, could come up with something more vibrant and eye-catching.Book Blurb Score: 7
The blurb is accurate but, long and gives away too much information. I would suggest trimming it to make it a bit more punchy.
The formatting is good.
The grammar and spelling are almost perfect. I found two things that slipped past the proofreader:
1. Pg: 175 “You’re not supposed to be out the road!”
2. Pg 211 So we spent our lives in a stale mate.; Stalemate is one word.
Barbara Ann allows the reader to discover issues in her world as they unfold. She never allows hindsight to intrude so the reader sees through the eyes of teenage girl growing up in the seventies, which was a time of great social change. Her mother is the antagonist, her father intervenes between mother and daughter at crucial moments but he, like his daughter, turns in on himself to cope with his world.
Barbara Ann grows and develops through the struggle with her mother, a woman who sees everything in black and white. Her mother's negativity and dogmatic approach lead to confusion and hostility. Barbara Ann rails against what she perceives as unfairness, the struggle subsumes her and she descends into depression. It is only when she can speak honestly with her father that the fog begins to clear and she can make her way back into the light.
This may not be the first memoir about the difficult relationship between a mother and daughter, but the honesty with which the story is rendered gives it a freshness.
The author skillfully manages the alternating moods of boredom, hope, despair, frustration and confusion which every teenager experiences. The descent into something darker -- depression --- is sensitively handled, as are the hints of what goes on in the lives of her parents. The feeling of wanting to know, on Barbara Anne's part, of what is really going on and why the adults behave as they do, is palpable.
As a teenager in the 1970s, I recognized Barbara Anne's voice -- her use of language is authentic.
There is an innate rhythm to the narrative which made me feel I was next to Barbara Anne and I needed to find out how the issues would resolve.