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Jazz Baby

4.64  ·  Rating Details  ·  80 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
While all Mississippi bakes in the scorching summer of 1925, a sudden orphanhood casts its icy shadow across Emily Ann Teegarten, a pretty young teen. Taken in by an aunt bent on ridding herself of this unexpected burden, "Baby" Teegarten plots her escape using the only means at her disposal: a voice that makes church ladies cry and angels take notice. "I'm gonna sing jazz ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 17th 2012 by Fresh Ink Group
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Stephen Geez
Jul 18, 2013 Stephen Geez rated it it was amazing
I recently so effusively praised Beem Weeks’s Jazz Baby historical novel to a group of already-appreciating fans that several challenged me to list five simple reasons I keep it handy for occasional reference and reread. Okay, sure:

5) SETTING: The authenticity and vividness of Prohibition-era south from rural Mississippi to the Storyville underbelly of New Orleans is so true and fascinating that I’m grateful for the chance to experience so personally. The world of gangsters and speakeasies and f
Jenny Lloyd
Jul 11, 2013 Jenny Lloyd rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone.
Lord a-mercy! Shove my head in an ice-box and pour me a cool co-cola because Jazz Baby is hotter and steamier than a Mississippi swamp.
I could SMELL the sweat, the booze, the smoke and heat in the sleazy New Orleans speakeasies. I could FEEL those crumbling sidewalks beneath my feet. And the all pervading sense of danger this girl was in sneaked off the page and under my skin.
Lock up your sons (and your daughters, too) because Emily Ann Teegarten is running loose and wild with no Mama or Papa to
Kindle Ninja
Oct 17, 2014 Kindle Ninja rated it it was amazing
I don’t know why I let this gem of a book sit on my TBR list for so long.

We follow the story of Emily Ann Teegarten, an innocent 13-year old whose dreams of becoming a jazz singer is marred by the ugliness that defined the era.

The narrative style is splendid, peppered with rich language and fascinating characters. It’s cinematic in execution and captures the excitement, fear, and the heartbreak while being thrown into the sleazy underbelly of the city.

It’s not an easy read because it can be unc
Bill Ward
Apr 25, 2014 Bill Ward rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most original, atmospheric and best written novels I have read in a long time. It is the story of a poor white teenager who wants to be a Jazz singer and is set in Mississippi during the time now known as the roaring twenties.
The characters are brought beautifully to life, especially Baby as the teenager discovering her sexuality and the ability it gives her to control men, both young and old. She is determined to escape poverty and become a Jazz singer but a mix of character
Jul 31, 2012 Peter rated it really liked it
Shelves: llbr
Imagine a coming-of-age protagonist who is a mix of Scout Finch (a few years older) and Holden Caulfield (a few years younger), navigating an adult world of Blue Velvet type characters. Reading Jazz Baby, a distinctly Southern novel by Beem Weeks, one can’t help associate other literary works and films; yet this remarkable novel manages to etch out its own identity.

Pubescent and pretty, precocious and impetuous, Emily Ann (Baby) Teegarten is growing up fast in Rayford, Mississippi in the Jazz Ag
Y. Correa
Aug 21, 2013 Y. Correa rated it it was amazing
From the first line the character of Emily Ann jumped to life. I was instantly taken into a time and place that I knew little about (excluding what I'd learned in text books), and by the time I turned to the last page I felt as though I'd gone on a one of a kind journey with Emily Ann "Baby" Teengaten leading the way.

It amazed me how I could clearly hear that "Southern Miss'ippi twang" leap off of the pages and ring clear in my ears, bright and true.
Baby, was in heart and mind the definition of
Nicola McDonagh
Aug 22, 2013 Nicola McDonagh rated it it was amazing
This is a truly memorable read with a rich and evocative narrative reminiscent of Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor. It is a story of a very strong-willed 13 year-old girl desperate to become a Jazz singer. Emily Ann Teergaten smokes opium, canoodles with boys and girls alike, and somehow manages to survive the threat and menace that surrounds her, as she attempts to make her dream come true and sing in New York City.

Tragedy follows Emily at every turn as she spirals towards drug addiction and pros
Christoph Fischer
Mar 25, 2013 Christoph Fischer rated it really liked it
"Jazz Baby" by Beem Weeks is a very authentic feeling and atmospheric novel set in 1925 New Orleans. The dreams of a young white, talented Jazz singer, are slightly shattered by family tragedies and other obstacles in her way to fame. Story telling from a young voice often has the quality of honesty and rawness that befits the at times bleek or sad character of the book.
Weeks captures the colourful and varied aspects of the place and time wonderfully, just as we would imagine it: A young girl's
S. Rose
Mar 19, 2013 S. Rose rated it it was amazing
Jazz Baby reminds me of the time when I, as a small child, peeled open my very first pomegranate. Hidden beneath the unassuming skin I discovered a treasure of sparkling, edible ruby-red jewels that felt smooth to the tongue and when bitten, burst into a luscious sweetness with a tart, sassy edge. So too with Jazz Baby!

In the interest of disclosure I offered to review the novel for author, Beem Weeks, and was forthwith gifted a paperback copy (since I’m an old fogy who hasn’t broken down and bo
Bev Spicer
May 18, 2014 Bev Spicer rated it it was amazing

This was my first download from the Rave Reviews Book Club selection and I must say that it is a spellbinding piece of writing.
Set in Mississippi in the 1920s there is masterful detail of lives led on either side of the river, and Emily Ann Teegarten is the daring young protagonist whose dream of making it as a jazz singer finds her taking risks a young girl cannot hope to get away with all the time. I was immediately bewitched by her outspoken ideas and tenacity, her naivety and her curiously
Sunshine Somerville
Oct 10, 2014 Sunshine Somerville rated it really liked it
I would bet it’s impossible to read this book without your mind-voice at some point slipping into a Southern accent. The language/tone/regional flavor of this book was my favorite thing about it. The writing is very unique and clever, and the author does an excellent job of using the writing to draw you into this world of the 1920’s Deep South.

The story itself is paced well, the plot moves along logically for the most part, and there’s a nice balance of Emily Ann’s internal thoughts and externa
Queen Spades
Aug 21, 2013 Queen Spades rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of historical fiction, southern literature, coming of age
Shelves: royally-favored
For the extended review, please stop by this link on The Review Board:

“Baby” Teegarten has a dream: a dream to sing Jazz in New York City. However, in her quest to achieve that dream, she runs into many pitfalls causing her to grow up way too soon. This is set up in Mississippi in the summer of 1925, and this sparked my interest greatly, due to the fact that Mississippi is my place of origin.

The first thing I noticed was the tone of this work. Jazz Baby is a mix of comedic
Jan 12, 2015 Shirley rated it it was amazing
Jazz Baby is the story of 13-year-old Emily Ann, a girl who loses both parents early in the novel. She possess a singing voice that's able to make saints cry in church and sinners dance in the speakeasies of 1925 New Orleans. This voice will take her far away from the dirty little Mississippi town of her birth. But while Emily thinks she's a grown woman, ready to get on with life as an independent person, she's woefully underprepared for the real world. There are musicians, club owners, revenue ...more
Beem Weeks
Apr 18, 2016 Beem Weeks rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
(This isn't a review; it's a commentary in the author's own words.)

Emily Ann "Baby" Teegarten is a young girl with big dreams. She has the sort of voice that convicts sinners simply through song. But Baby has bigger aspirations than singing spirituals to that Mississippi congregation on Sunday mornings during the summer of 1925. The girl yearns to sing jazz in the clubs way up in New York City. Her father is her biggest supporter, standing behind the girl every step of the way--until he passes a
Blake Rivers
Sep 10, 2013 Blake Rivers rated it it was amazing
A Shot of Realism into Your Veins

I will start off this review by saying that I am in two minds about this book. There are parts of this story that I take issue with and made me feel very uncomfortable... and I believe that is exactly how it should be.

This is a story of a girl just entering her teens who ends up being used by almost every man she meets, and is betrayed by the society around her. It is a sad story in that respect, and we follow Emily-Ann from an innocence into a world of degradati
Nov 09, 2013 Christine rated it really liked it
This thrilling page-turner had me hooked from beginning to end! It is an engrossing tale of crime and speakeasies in 1925 Mississippi & New Orleans, told in the unique voice of Emily Ann Teegarten - aka 'Baby'. Full of deep southern charm, rich details and authentic vernacular.

At the tender age of 13, Emily Ann finds herself orphaned. Blessed with a beautiful voice, her one desire is to sing jazz in New York City. As a pretty young teen, a budding bisexual and talented chanteuse, Emily Ann
Philip J McQuillan
Nov 24, 2014 Philip J McQuillan rated it it was amazing
I loved this book so much that I reread it, skimming through and trying to read the highlights I had made on my Kindle. I procrastinated on writing this for so long because I didn't feel my review could do justice to the book. I was charmed and enthralled by the story, but how to explain why I was so charmed... and with so many great reviews already written, giving a fresh viewpoint was a challenge.

In essence, the book appeals to me most because Week’s every turn of a phrase clicks with me. His
Janette Hawke
Sep 24, 2014 Janette Hawke rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller, deep-south
This book really deserves the 5 stars even though 'coming of age' stories rarely come up with anything too new in the scheme of things. I'll come clean and say right off that I used to work in the courts that deal with the aftermath of 'saving' abused children, so there's little in here that actually shocked me too much, but few writers who tackle this subject 'authentically' rarely avoid piling on the social conscience reactions and simply concentrate on what makes their teenage hero tick. And ...more
Marlena Hand
Apr 21, 2014 Marlena Hand rated it it was amazing
JAZZ BABY is set back in the summer of 1925 in Mississippi. We read about Emily Ann Teegarten and her life as it is flipped upside down with one horrific incident after another. Forced to live with her aunt, Emily begins plotting her escape, with nothing but a dream to sing jazz in New York City. She hopes that the speakeasies of New Orleans are short stepping stones to her dream in the Big Apple. BUT Emily is introduced to more than she could’ve imagined.

We read from the eyes of young Emily Ann
April Adams
I couldn't finish the book, it made me too sad. I got 57% of the way through, so I don't know how it ends. It's not a plot-driven novel anyway. I'm not rating it by how much I liked it. I'm rating by the skill of the author in the crafting of the story and the beauty of the author's voice in telling this story.

A poor girl in the roaring 20's, with aspirations of fame and a singing voice that might get her there, finds herself all alone - a sheep in the midst of wolves - when her father dies. She
Loren Weaver
Jazz Baby by Beem Weeks is a tale of a young girl, just becoming a woman, and her dream to sing jazz music in 1925.

Emily Ann Teegarten, or Baby, is a teenage singing sensation. All she wants to do is make a living singing jazz music. But in the time of prohibition, speakeasies aren't the best place for young girls just becoming women. After suddenly being orphaned and shipped off to an aunt that things jazz music is from the devil, Emily finds ways to sneak over the river to New Orleans to get h
Shelley Young
Mar 15, 2014 Shelley Young rated it it was amazing
Imagine running through 1925 Storyville, Nawlins with gasoline drawers on and the devil running fast behind your tail. Sound dangerous? It isn't only because it's good fiction.

This is what I love (not like-love) about this book. It's original. Tired of reading the same storyline told the same way with different character names? This book will cure you of that. Another aspect I loved about this book is, you don't see what's coming. This along with the dialect used and the female character's point
Kenneth Kerr
Sep 04, 2014 Kenneth Kerr rated it it was amazing

Jazz Baby is a story told by a poor white teenage girl growing up in Rayford, Mississippi, just across the river from New Orleans, in the mid 1920s. Her dream is to make it big in New York City as a jazz singer. The story brilliantly describes the life on the dark side of New Orleans: speakeasies, cathouses, drugs, sex, crime, racial issues, and jazz. It is told in the colorful, southern dialect, slang language of the south in that era, making it feel genuine and authentic.

Beem Weeks
Sarah Lynch
Apr 10, 2014 Sarah Lynch rated it really liked it
An authentic window into 1920s Mississippi

I picked this book up one evening and started reading, soon discovering it'd be one of those that I'd require a stretch of time to chew through without interruption. It is for this reason I put the book back down and picked it up again when I knew I would have a window of quiet time to dive in and really allow myself to absorb the story crafted here. For crafted it is.

Jazz Baby tells the story of a 13-year-old girl who has the voice of a much more mature
Sep 02, 2014 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
The first thing I noticed about this book was the beautiful prose. It was easy to get caught up in the story that was so wonderfully written. Much of it is written in dialect, giving it an authentic feel, and varies the voices of the characters. It was done in such a way that it was easy to understand the dialog. The author does a nice job of creating a setting in the deep south during the roaring twenties. One one complaint is that Emily Ann at times does not react to her dire circumstances the ...more
Dale Furse
Apr 17, 2014 Dale Furse rated it really liked it
Wow, this story was so different from what I usually read. It opened my eyes up to a place and a time, I hadn’t ventured into before. I really enjoyed Beem Weeks way of writing and the setting, a place that I, as an Aussie, could visualise. That’s what I want from a story, to take me to such different places. The book is definitely an ‘adults only’ story.

Characterisations were so good and I had so much hope for Emily ‘Baby’ Teegarten in the beginning. However, the author didn’t go that way. I en
Clive Mullis
Jul 22, 2014 Clive Mullis rated it really liked it
Jazz Baby is an atmospheric dip into southern America in the 1920’s. It follows the story of Emily Ann as she hits adolescence; as she sings and explores life, life explores her.

I enjoyed reading this book as it was both light and dark. The prose flowed well and jogged along at the right pace. The dialect was no problem for me even though I’m a Brit, I thought it brought to life both the era and place.

My only gripe is with the main character’s reaction to certain situations. What should have aff
Wendy Storer
Apr 24, 2014 Wendy Storer rated it it was amazing
This is just a fabulous novel, packed with atmosphere, unusual characters, rich language and bags of plot. The story of Emily Ann Teegarten, a determined 13 year-old girl who has her sights set on singing jazz and will let nothing stand in her way. Her beautiful voice carries her through adversity and abuse, just as the narrative voice carries the readers through some desperately sad and difficult scenes.

The writing here really is something special; oozing ambience and evoking 1920s Southern Ame
Feb 12, 2014 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful time piece of early 20th Century Mississippi. Beem Weeks did an outstanding job taking the reader through the journey of Emily Ann (Baby) Teegarten. Baby's voice brings tears to the women in her church but she wants more. She wants to sing Jazz. Baby, a young white pre-pubescent girl does not fit the "Jazz Scene". She tries valiantly to be welcomed into the black speakeasies. Baby's struggle to make it as a Jazz singer takes her through many troubling times and puts her into ...more
Bette Stevens
Oct 27, 2014 Bette Stevens rated it it was amazing
Author Beem Weeks has captured the Roaring Twenties and enlivened the imagination of this reader. I was transported back in time through the voice of protagonist Emily Ann, a young teen living in rural Mississippi, and into her life of growing up in poverty and wanting a way out above all things. Beem's novel transports readers through prohibition, speak-easies, crime bosses, revenuers, 'hooch', 'hop', and sex in a heart-wrenching adventure enlivened with fresh images and a memorable cast of cha ...more
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Jazz Baby by Beem Weeks 2 9 Apr 15, 2014 09:56AM  
Beem Weeks here. I am a writer, blogger, blog talk radio host, Acquisitions Editor for Fresh Ink Group, and reviews coordinator for Rave Reviews Book Club. I have written the historical fiction/coming-of-age novel Jazz Baby, which is available at and Slivers Of Life: A Collecetion of Short Stories I write in many different genres but p ...more
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