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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on December 30, 2002
First, I have to say that I genuinely liked most of the characters that Fannie Flagg developed in "Welcome to the World, Baby Girl". Especially well liked were Norma and Macky and Aunt Elner. There was a sweet charm to these characters that made me smile and wish that I actually knew people like these.
The layout of the book was a little frustrating for me. Ms. Flagg jumps back and forth between time periods, which makes following the story more than a bit confusing. Also, because the shifts can be dramatic - going from 1974 to 1952 - means the reader must make some real mental shifts to follow along. I realize that Ms. Flagg is trying to build suspense, but this was overly much.
I'm not certain if it is because it took Ms. Flagg 12 years to write this book, or because of the back and forth nature of the way she tells the story, but historical inaccuracies abound and are very, very apparent. For me, they drew away from the story being told, and I am quite frankly amazed that no other reviewer has mentioned this. Ms. Flagg has the 911 emergency number fully operational as of 1968 (when in fact it was 1973), and an 87 year old woman giving birth. (A woman born in 1808 giving birth in 1895 - a little far-fetched) There are scores of other historical inaccuracies until the book simply becomes comical for a reader to find all of the errors.
If one is able to get beyond these inaccuracies and this book as pure "fluff", it might be quite enjoyable. Otherwise, it might be interesting just to pick out the inaccuracies.
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on June 12, 2002
This is the worst book I've read in a while. The only word I can think of to describe it is trite. The characters are barely two-dimentional and the story doesn't make you care about any of them. Most of the plot is predictable, except for the "big secret" at the end. I skimmed through the last hundred pages because I must admit that I had to know what the secret was- when revealed it was a complete let-down. I loved Fried Green Tomatoes... but don't waste a minute of your pecious time on Baby Girl.
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on June 4, 2001
Welcome to the world of Dena Nordstrom (Debra Norville?), pioneering woman broadcast journalist, tall cool drink of water and American Nordic ice princess. In an attempt to create an interesting, conlficted heroine, Fannie Flagg has delivered a paper-thin cliche, like so many bestsellers marketed to us women. "Baby Girl" would have been more entertaining if Dena were truly a strong woman and able to handle the stress of her job without suffering bleeding ulcers or being an alcoholic. Then again, Dena is ultiamtely the sum of her weaknesses, and this would be a different story without them. Still, I would have liked to see Dena persevere, instead of being unable to handle success because of her traumatic childhood. Her secret was something of a letdown, and the ultimate explanation for her mother's disappearance is utterly implausible.
The other characters, too, are weak. I'm not sure what her first psychiatrist, Dr. Gerry O'Malley, saw in her -- she was utterly cruel to him. And I found Flagg's portrayal of Alabama and Missouri small-town life rather caramelized, even a bit patronizing. In truth, rural living is no more idyllic than living in The Big, Scary, Busy, Unfeeling City.
As in "Fried Green Tomatoes," Flagg takes on sensitive issues of race, and throws in a murder for good measure -- but Fried Green Tomatoes was much more effective. Entertaining enough, but improbable and as light as Neighbor Dorothy's buttermilk biscuits.
P.S. If her mother's disappearance wasn't resolved until nearly the book's end, how on earth did she support herself from age 15 though college? Her grandparents? A trust fund? Unlikely, considering her mother supported them by working in dress shops. And I don't think sororities at expensive private Southern universities accepted poor orphans in the 1960s, not even blonde, beautiful and talented ones.
Dandy airplane/poolside reading. But it's much shallower than "Fried Green Tomatoes," even through it strives for depth. I don't know if this was this an Oprah's Book Club selection, but it bears the signature trait of that category--a conflicted heroine with small-town roots.
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on March 8, 2000
I loved "Fried..." and "Daisy...", and enjoyed parts of "Welcome..." However, my overall impression of the book was less than favorable. I thought it was too cheesy. The "good" characters were too good. The "bad" characters were too bad. Gerry, the nerdy doctor. Oh, God, totally one dimensional character. Wasn't likable in the very least. Loved Aunt Elner, though. I thought the mystery behind Dena's mother was so lame, I put the book down with 30 pages to go and didn't touch it for days because I was so disappointed with that revelation. There wasn't one word or action in this book that wasn't predictable. I could have written it myself word for word after reading only the first chapter. Except the end. I wouldn't subject ANYONE to that ending. I believe Flagg has an excellent grasp on small town America. She's a great storyteller when she's telling an original story. I've read this one a million times before by a million different authors.
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on February 10, 2000
Are small town folks this nice? Ms. Flagg has a good ear for dialogue but not much for reality. The heroine is confused and confusing. I couldn't understand how she inspired such devotion if she was, in fact, as distant, reserved, untruthful as described. I felt Ms. Flagg did a hurry-up job on this novel. She never explained how the penniless 15-year old Dena supported herself for the next 4 years after her mother deserted her. She rents a house that has supposedly been occupied until a few months ago and finds a 1954 calendar hanging in the kitchen. I realize this was supposed to be nostalgia time, but what of the previous tenants? Did they live in a time warp? I found it hard to believe that a girl with small town relatives had no idea what a pot-luck dinner was. The big mystery was some letdown. Book seemed very hasty, tangled, and I will never understand the fictional conversation with Tennessee Williams. I'm sure he would be mortified to be credited with so many cliches
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on January 16, 2001
I hope Fannie Flagg comes out with a new title soon that will wipe away the memory of Welcome to the world, Baby Girl! Fried Green Tomatoes was a joy, this was a trial. I had to read it for my book club, otherwise would have dropped it half-way through. The characters were cardboard thin with none of the three-dimensional subtlety of those in her second or first novels. The jumping around of time, view-point, and locale was confusing and did not really improve the plot line. Waiting for Dena to come around and join the human race just got tiresome. I really didn't care whether she discovered her roots so when her tragic family background finally was revealed I found it hard to empathize with any of them. I really don't like it when an author I have enjoyed comes out with such a disappointing work.
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on November 19, 2000
What a let-down after reading "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe." Is this the same author? I forced myself to keep reading the predictable plot, "TV-movie" characters, and the oh-so-obvious pop-psychological analysis of the main character. Halfway through, I couldn't stand it anymore. I flipped to the last page, found out (like it wasn't obvious) that Dena gets together with the psychiatrist; the "bad guy" dies, and everyone is happy. No need to tortue myself further. "Fried Green Tomatoes" dealt with such strong female characters, social issues, and rich, funny characters. What happened?
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on October 16, 2000
This book is just BAD. I felt like I was reading the draft of a college student's first novel -- sophomoric, with glib "meaningful" moments. Of course, the psychiatrist falls in love with the pretty blonde, and of course she needs to find out the reasons for her neuroses in order to love him back. And oh how happy and close the cute country folks are! None of the boredom and dysfunctions common to some small towns. All of these country folks are as proud and chummy as they can be -- just move to a small town and eliminate all your problems. This book is about as shallow and hokey as a novel can be!
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on February 5, 2000
The back cover reads that one must be a stone not to laugh and cry over this book. I did neither. This one is no "Fried Green Tomatoes". The story revolves around a lifeless character I could not get interested in. I found the "secret past" boring and the story ending much too sappy for my tastes. I could not wait to put this one down. Blech!
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on August 12, 2003
Welcome to the World Baby Girl is my first Fannie Flagg novel, and I just loved it! The most priceless segments of the novel are all centered on the sweet, nostalgic description of the small Midwestern town, Elmwood Springs. The imagery and description are so vivid, that I felt as if I could smell the cookies baking. It's a wonderful novel that pays tribute to American small-town roots. Flagg also does a fantastic job of creating hilarious, idiosyncratic, and endearing characters.
The main character, Dena, is also a fascinating story. While the reader never knows exactly if Dena's actions will follow her thoughts, the reader is certainly aware of a slow transformation in her character.
My only criticism is that the novel's "neat" ending seemed like a last minute attachment. The mystery of the novel kept me turning the pages, but when I hit the ending, I felt dissatisfied with how the "mystery" turned out. It was a bit "out of the blue" and didn't seem to blend well with the rest of the novel. However, I don't think that the ending seriously detracts from the novel--I still recommend it. Welcome to the World Baby Girl! is a fun and easy read.
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