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3.89  ·  Rating details ·  12,306 ratings  ·  1,728 reviews
When Ibby Bell’s father dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1964, her mother unceremoniously deposits Ibby with her eccentric grandmother Fannie and throws in her father’s urn for good measure. Fannie’s New Orleans house is like no place Ibby has ever been—and Fannie, who has a tendency to end up in the local asylum—is like no one she has ever met. Fortunately, Fannie’s bla ...more
Hardcover, 337 pages
Published July 3rd 2014 by Pamela Dorman Books
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Deborah I actually listened to this, rather than reading it, so I appreciated that it might have been "simplistic". I thought the narrator was excellent, and …moreI actually listened to this, rather than reading it, so I appreciated that it might have been "simplistic". I thought the narrator was excellent, and the characters really came to life for me, and I did enjoy the way the story unfolded.(less)
Robby Johnson
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Average rating 3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  12,306 ratings  ·  1,728 reviews

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Angela M
Jul 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I started this on Sunday and finished it on Monday. It was just one of those books that is filled with secrets of the past that you just have to know about and characters that you love as soon as you meet them and then you love them more as the author lets you see who they are.

Almost twelve years old and still reeling from the death of her father, Ibby is abandoned by her mother and left on the doorstep of a grandmother who she just barely found out she had. Fannie, her grandmother is a seemingl
Jul 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a subtle, southern charming read that gets under your skin as you read it. It’s 1964 in the deep south of New Orleans. It’s the summer and the heat is oppressive. Ibby Bell is abandoned by her mother just after her father has passed away. She is literally left on the doorstep of her eccentric grandmother whom she has never met. The atmosphere of the story is one of racial tension, acceptance of differences and the love and protection found in a non traditional family. A 50-year old story ...more
Diane S ☔
Mar 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
3.5 A coming of age story set in New Orleans during the era of Civil Rights. A story that is gently and atmospherically told, filled with secrets, family and tragedies from the past that have a strong hold on the present.

It is, however, the characters that make this novel so special. Ibby I 12 hers old, her father recently dead, when she is dropped at her grandmothers house, by her mother. A grandmother she had never met and had been told by her mother many bad things. There she meets two wonder
May 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
To all those comparing this to The Help by Kathryn Stockett..STOP IT. It's not even close. The plot here is good, but the writing is clunky and inconsistent. Difficult to follow.
Jul 14, 2014 rated it did not like it
Very disappointing. I wanted to like Dollbaby, but it was a real letdown. If you're looking for the next The Secret Life of Bees or The Help, this is not it. Dollbaby reads like a young adult novel. The narration is mainly devoted to spelling out historical details and includes some strange, nonsensical metaphors; the dialog is clunky and contains too much exposition; and the character development is simplistic. The story is disorganized, with plotlines that go nowhere. There are a handful of ve ...more
May 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeil is a 2014 Viking Adult publication.

This highly praised novel has oft been compared to “The Help”, and to a lesser extent “The Secret Life of Bees”. However, I would advise you to avoid going into this book with that type of preconceived notion. This book is nothing at all like “The Help” with the exception of it being set in the south in the 1960's, and featuring strong black women, but the similarity ends there.

When Liberty's ( Ibby) father dies suddenly, her mot
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Jun 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The 1960's, New Orleans, a matriarch, a girl without a daddy, housekeepers, families, and secrets.

Ibby was moved to her grandmother's home after her father passed away so her mother could have some time to herself. Ibby had never seen her grandmother before nor had she known about her until a week before this move. Ibby was frightened especially since she heard stories about her strict grandmother from her mother.

Ibby met Queenie and Doll before meeting her grandmother. Queenie and Doll are the
In prefacing acknowledgements, Laura Lane McNeal praises her agent and editing/publishing team for their support, assistance, and sage advice. I concur. Without professional tutelage, “Dollbaby” might have become another diamond-in-the-rough among hundreds-of-thousands lost in an overly saturated self-published sea. That would be a crying shame. Dollbaby is a delightful coming-of-age southern jewel. It’s my kind of southern-fried fiction: regionally unique and atmospheric rich with quaint ambian ...more
Jessica Jeffers
Jul 12, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I don't understand how this one has such a relatively high rating on Goodreads. It sounded like a very promising novel of a young girl coming of age in 60s New Orleans, against a backdrop of civil rights protests and family secrets, and it's drawn comparisons to The Help. But the writing is very awkward -- most of the background information is revealed through dialogue and the concept of exposition is ignored completely in favor of offering explanations after the fact -- and the characters barel ...more
Angie Lisle
Mar 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is southern-lit about a family in New Orleans, when a girl named Libby Bell is abandoned by her mother at her paternal grandmother's house in the 1960s and all the family secrets proceed to spill out of the closets.

I loved this book. Loved. The story has the magic of Alice Hoffman, Sarah Addison Allen, Rebecca Wells, and Mildred Taylor, all rolled up into one. I also thought about the older movie version of Steel Magnolias while I read this book - not because of similar plot-lines or chara
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: southern
I loved this book. The characters are so likeable you just can't help falling in love with them. They become family. The author continues to feed you bits and pieces until the plot comes around full circle. Loved it and highly recommend. Quick and easy book!
Sonja Arlow
So many themes, issues, secrets and clichés crammed into a story that never really created any depth and complexity. The book blurb also didn’t do this story any favours by comparing it to The Help.

It’s a sweet, safe and predictable coming of age story narrated by Ibby Bell, whose father passed away suddenly prompting her mother to dump her on the doorstep of a grandmother she has never met.

It’s not that I am allergic to sweet stories but this book really struggled to hold my attention. The cha
Jul 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
I have so many books on my to-read list that I didn't even finish this one. It has been compared to "the help" and in my opinion, is far from that in quality and story-telling. The characters are annoying, and the big family secrets revealed are obvious and boring.
Judy D Collins
A special thank you to PENGUIN GROUP Viking, Pamela Dorman Books, and NetGalley for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Update Audio Book 2015:
Almost a year has passed since the launch of award-winning DOLLBABY, a favorite among southern fans.

Being an Audible member, I enjoy going back to some of my "all time favorites reads" from the previous year, and re-reading by listening to them via audio. What a pleasure experiencing once again an extraordinary and heartwarming story by Laura Lane
Jun 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
Many readers will disagree with my rating this book two stars. I read a lot of books. This was not literature. It is a perfect Oprah Book of the Month genre and likely why it has received high overall reader score. It's a feel good book. I found it to have a predictable plot which was not believable, formulaic, simple writing, and little character development.
Set in New Orleans, twelve year old Liberty Alice Bell (Ibby) is deposited by her mother, Vidrine Crump Bell, on the doorstep of her gran
May 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
Very stilted writing and xeroxed characters. DNF.
*ALL the stars! Simply the best book to end the year with!

After the death of her father in 1964, Liberty "Ibby" Bell is taken by her mother to New Orleans and dropped off outside the home of her eccentric grandmother who is a stranger to her. She has no way of knowing what is to come, or the people she will grow to love...redefining what it really means to be a family. There she meets Dollbaby and Queenie, the two women that know how to keep the house running and take care of Fannie, the grandmo
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
Sep 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2014
12-year-old Liberty Bell or Ibby as everyone calls her is send after her father’s death to live with her grandmother Fannie in New Orleans. That Ibby had a grandmother was quite a shock to her because it has always been her and her parents. Her grandmother Fannie lives in an old house with black servants Queenie, Dollbaby, and Crow. This is the 1960’s so segregation is still a part of the everyday lives. Ibby soon realizes that the town treats the blacks way different than the whites. She also g ...more
Jul 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Literally dumped on the door step of her eccentric grandmother,Ibby must cope with not just her mother's abandonment,but living in a new city, going to a new school andtrying to fit in, all the while being the grand daughter of one of the more colorful residents of New Orleans.
But she does make her way. While harboring that secret wish of all abandoned children, that her mother will return for her,she comes of age as the era of civil rights begins to hit it's stride in the deep South.The turbu
Sometimes you can really tell when history has been sanitized and written too optimistically. Dollbaby takes place between 1964 and 1972, in the American south, featuring a cast of both white and black characters. Any realistic portrayal of this setting and period would be practically obligated to prominently portray race-related tension and struggle. Yet Laura Lane McNeal’s story is unerringly ho-hum, and any racist difficulties are quickly overcome or swept under the rug. Though Dollbaby is mo ...more
Nov 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: coming-of-age, race
I debated between a 2 and 3 star rating on this one. It is not really average (which would be a solid 3 star), but wasn't bad enough for me to pull the trigger on 2 stars.

I think my biggest complaint was that the title (Dollbaby) and the "big reveal" (yes, quotes because it wasn't really so surprising) revolve around a minor character. The protagonist here is Ibby Bell (another complaint I had about the book was the names: Liberty and Graham Bell to cite a few), NOT DOLL.

I could feel McNeal spr
Apr 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I am absurdly delighted to review Dollbaby. This is the rare kind of book where you'll begin reading it, and the next time you look up, somehow a hundred pages have flipped by. It occurs during my favorite historical time period to read about and features steadfast, but zany characters you wish were your own family. Complete with southern charm, it's a must read!
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
Dollbaby brings to life both the charm and the civil unrest of the 1960's Southern States.

Set in New Orleans, Dollbaby chronicles the life of Liberty Bell who, upon the death of her father, is unceremoniously dumped at the door of her grandmothers house along with the urn containing her father's ashes. A grandmother she has never met. A grandmother who spends periods of time in the local asylum, leaving her Negro staff of Queenie and Doll to raise Libby.

There are a lot of family secrets hidden b
Feb 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
4.5★s rounding up to 5★s

So glad I listened to the audio book. January LaVoy, the narrator, did a fantastic job bringing these characters to life!

Dollbaby starts with a bang during the 1964 civil rights era in New Orleans and takes you on a journey as secrets are revealed. The characters are fantastic, strong, and resilient. They know what it truly means to be a family. The end ties all the loose ends together and left me teary-eyed. If you are a fan of southern fiction in general give this one a
Aug 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was a sweet southern coming-of-age novel that I would best describe as a mixture of The Help and The Secret Life Of Bees! Definitely an enjoyable read for all southern fiction fans!
Aug 02, 2014 rated it liked it
I realize I'm in the minority here, but I vacillated between 3 and 4 stars for this book. I think I was expecting it to "shake me to my core", but it did not. In fairness, though, I kept thinking of SAVING CEE CEE HONEYCUTT, which I loved. On the positive side, the narration by January Lavoy was a wonderful addition. It's just that I never really connected to the characters for some reason. So, as my friend, Mitch, stated, "I liked it, but did not love it."
Jul 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book and the characters.
Fred Shaw
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dollbaby is a story of secrets. The kind that families in the south keep even until death. But somehow the truth always comes out eventually. In this book, the secrets are told when the time is right, which I believe is the best way.

Twelve year old Ibby Bell, short for Liberty Bell, is abandoned by her mother at her grandmother’s house in New Orleans, shortly after the death of Ibby’s father. It’s 1964, in the south, and Ibby’s grandmother Fannie, and her house help Queenie and Dollbaby, raise
3.5 stars

I primarily chose to read this book because it was set in New Orleans and I was going on vacation there. Maybe a weird reason to pick a book, but I think it's fun to get excited about a vacation destination by reading about it ahead of time (even if fictionally).

The main character of this book is supposedly Ibby (Liberty Bell). However, I have to say she's kind of boring and doesn't carry the plot at all. If anything she seems to just be a device used to tell other people's stories and
May 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014, arc
The setting undoubtedly adds zing to this touching coming of age story. As we ride along with Ibby on her journey from adolescent to adulthood we are invited to the exciting and turbulent times of New Orleans during the mid 1960's to mid 1970's. Experiencing the culture and vibe of New Orleans from succulent food, vibrant street performers to the issues of civil rights. A delightful, touching and inspiring story of one young woman's discovery of herself, her family and the family she never knew ...more
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Play Book Tag: Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal - 2 1/2 stars 1 13 Sep 26, 2016 01:13PM  
2017 Reading Chal...: Dollbaby 1 12 Sep 18, 2015 02:53AM  

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After receiving two undergraduate degrees from Southern Methodist University (a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Business Administration), she went on to earn an MBA from Tulane University. She spent most of her career in advertising, working for firms in New York and Dallas, before returning to New Orleans where she started her own marketing consulting firm and became a free-lance writer a

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27 likes · 10 comments
“New Orleans was like that. A live-and-let-live attitude was ingrained into the fabric of the city; no one cared who you were or what you looked like - you had a place, and everyone respected that.” 5 likes
“Those called penny bags. Each of them got a brand-new penny on the bottom. The light reflecting off the penny supposed to confuse the flies, so they don’t come around and bother the food, although every time I see a fly, they confused enough already. Know what I mean?” Queenie chuckled.” 5 likes
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