When I was a new mom, I couldn’t read any book where the baby dies. Since I wasn’t reading much those days anyway, between working full-time and taking care of a fussy baby, I let my sympathetic friend serve as a screener for me. It was she who coined the phrase “Dead Baby Free.” As in, “You’ll like The Rapture of Canaan, and it’s completely Dead Baby Free.” It later became just the intials “DBF,” and was used as such: “Angela’s Ashes was great, but not DBF.”
Now my girls are more grown up, and while I still prefer books that are DBF, those that aren’t no longer send me into crying fits. But those books where the mom is dead, now those touch a nerve.
It has long been a staple of fairy tales that the mom dies. You know, Cinderella, Snow White, etc. And Disney took those stories on and kept it up with Bambi, Herbie the Love Bug, etc. Then teen books got in the game. My favorite by Sonya Sones even makes fun of the trend with One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies.
So, I picked up Pieces of Georgia and by the second page, I realize that the mom is dead. Bummer. But the book was thin and in verse, so I knew I could finish it fast and that was enough incentive for me to read it.
Thirteen-year-old Georgia has lived without her mother for six years but is still considered “at risk” by her middle school. Her school counselor gives Georgia a journal and encourages her to use it to ask her mother the questions she wants answered. With the journal, Georgia begins a time of discovery about herself, including her love for art. She also begins to look at her relationship with her friend, a rich girl that lives nearby, and finds that money isn’t everything. It sounds very predictable written out that way, but I did enjoy the verse and Georgia’s discovery of herself as an artist.
But for the next month, at least, I’m going to need my books to be Dead Mom Free.