Book Review: Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker

Glamorous, beautiful Mummy has everything a woman could want. Except for a daughter of her very own. So when she sees Kim – heavily pregnant, glued to her phone and ignoring her eldest child in a busy shop – she does what anyone would do. She takes her. But foul-mouthed little Tonya is not the daughter that Mummy was hoping for.
As Tonya fiercely resists Mummy’s attempts to make her into the perfect child, Kim is demonised by the media as a ‘scummy mummy’, who deserves to have her other children taken too. Haunted by memories of her own childhood and refusing to play by the media’s rules, Kim begins to spiral, turning on those who love her.
Though they are worlds apart, Mummy and Kim have more in common than they could possibly imagine. But it is five-year-old Tonya who is caught in the middle…

I saw this book on NetGalley and it really appealed – so I requested an advance review copy, and was lucky enough to be sent one. Do not worry, though, there are no spoilers in this review!

The book is told primarily from ‘Mummy’ and Kim’s points of view – with an occasional input from Tonya or one of the other characters, or social media. The sections tend to be short – and this keeps up a real pace to the book. There don’t appear to be formal chapters either (although I was reading an advanced copy on my Kindle – so not entirely sure how different the final format would be – or if it was a printed copy).

Initially the ‘Mums’ appear very different – Kim is from a rough neighbourhood, has a drug filled past and is branded a ‘scummy mummy’ by the press – whereas ‘Mummy’ clearly has cash, Ocado deliveries, lives in a fancy house, albeit with no family or friends. However it soon becomes apparent that they both have mental health issues, and have had comparable abusive childhoods, and are perhaps more similar than they would think if you look beneath the surface.

I have to say some of the comparison reminded me of how differently the Ben Needham and Madeleine McCann missing children cases were treated in the media based upon social class. Anyway, back to the book!

The book twists and turns – and you’re really unsure how it’s going to end up. ‘Mummy’ has not got the perfect daughter she expected – and Kim’s life is completely falling apart. Whilst I’m lucky never to have had trouble conceiving, I felt this part was explored well by ‘Mummy’ (and is apparently the author’s experience too) but equally the juggling of multiple small children was also true to life.

I really liked Kim’s relationship with her friend Ayesha – it felt really ‘real’. Equally her relationship with her partner Steve was also perfectly written, if not the perfect relationship!

Whilst the storyline for half of the characters seems ‘closed’ – the very final segment definitely left it open for a sequel, and there was one massive (and massively smelly) loose end that would need tidying up which would prove very interesting!!

One other lovely thing is that 10% of the royalties for the book are going to the children’s charity Action for Children – to help children like Tonya in the future.

Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for my ARC – and I’d definitely recommend this when it comes out in February 2021.