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3.16  ·  Rating details ·  321 ratings  ·  62 reviews
Cynthia can understand how Anahera feels just by looking at her body.

Cynthia is twenty-one, bored and desperately waiting for something big to happen. Her striking fitness instructor, Anahera, is ready to throw in the towel on her job and marriage. With stolen money and a dog in tow they run away and buy ‘Baby’, an old boat docked in a beautiful bay, where Cynthia dreams
Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 8th 2019 by Scribe UK (first published 2017)
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3.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  321 ratings  ·  62 reviews

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Assigned. Weird, but oddly absorbing little book. Definitely not for mass consumption.

3 stars
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When it comes to novels, Annaleese Jochems debut novel is a product of the age we live in. In the age of the internet and all the trapping of it with social media and the way, we as a society place more emphasis on the media than who we really are as people it is a perfect breeding ground for compulsive behavior and narcissism. Those personality traits can be used perfectly to describe 21-year-old Cynthia.

Unemployed and living at home with her father, Cynthia spends her time watching way too muc
Veronica ⭐️
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
3.5 stars
I can’t say I loved this book but it certainly was compelling reading. It’s not a book to be loved; it’s a dark story of obsession, both possessive and self.
It takes place over a relatively short period of time. There is very little before in the telling.

Cynthia is a young woman of 21 but she looks and acts much younger. She runs away with Anahera, her fitness instructor.
Cynthia’s mind is chaotic, she flits from highs to lows and as the story is
Annaleese Jochems’s award-winning debut novel, Baby starts off fairly ordinary, even a bit boring, and just a little strange. That needs a slightly strange protagonist, and Cynthia fits the bill: twenty-one going on thirteen, completely self-absorbed, with a massive crush on her gym instructor, Anahera. Cynthia suggests they run away together. That night, Anahera turns up, split from her husband, apparently seeking refuge. By the following morning, Cynthia has emptied her father’s bank acco
(2.5) Well, this was one of the most peculiar novels I've ever read. I'm almost stumped as to what to say about it.

I'll start with the basics. Set in New Zealand, it centres on a twentysomething woman, Cynthia, who has what appears to be a passionate obsession with her yoga instructor, Anahera. Cynthia invites Anahera to run away with her, and Anahera, who happens to be in the middle of a divorce, unexpectedly agrees. Cynthia clears out her dad's bank account and the two of them (accompanied by
Apr 05, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The only reason that I picked up this book was that it was shortlisted for the NZ book awards. I found the book so tedious, with a ridiculous plot, unconvincing characters and dialogue. It is the worst book I have read for years. There was no sense of place. It was a very boring book about self-absorbed people doing nothing apart from occasional nonsensical acts of violence. In fact it was so bad, I felt compelled to check the criteria for the book awards as I am really annoyed I wasted time rea ...more
Jaclyn Crupi
Oh, Baby! Jochems is New Zealand’s answer to July, Moshfegh and Kleeman. This weird book is dark and demented. Bored women getting up to all kinds of trouble. Evocative of Heavenly Creatures, it’s a pretty wild ride.
Review back by popular demand:

This was one of the most annoying books I have ever read. There is so much about it that makes absolutely no sense. Here are the things that bothered me:

- The plot is outlandish and disjointed.
- You know almost nothing about the main characters from the start and this continues until the end.
- This means that there was no character development.
- Because there was no background to the characters, I couldn't understand the motives of anyone.
- The dialogue is awkward a
Wow, what an amazing talent this young woman is. All of 23 years of age, there is both an urgency and energy to her writing way beyond her youth. Her insight into how social media, celebrity culture, the culture of 'me', and how the resultant obsession with self has manipulated her generation of young people is spectacular. The result is a monster of a young woman, the 21 year old Cynthia, whose life and existence is completely dominated by her dangerously self absorbed, meaningless and boring e ...more
Andi C Buchanan
I honest to god don't know if I loved or hated this one, and I suspect that's the genius of it.
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nz
3.5 stars.

Talk about taking millennial-hood to monstrous proportions. From being obsessed with self and social media, and reading too much into everything, the experience of being a young, aimless, inexperienced woman is magnified to such a scale that it becomes scary and unrecognisable. After a few days ruminating on this story, I’m still unsure how I feel about it. I can’t say I loved it. I found the story intense, weird, and disturbing, and felt the same way about the characters (especially o
Vincent Konrad
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
what a great book! I'm going to buy a copy so I can lend it to people
May 13, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Moshfegh, Johnson and all the recent Booker Prize nominees basically
2.5 / 5 stars

The thing that excited me most about this book was the mention of places I have seen and been to in New Zealand, Paihia, Whangarei, Palmerston North, the supermarket Countdown, as well as Hokey Pokey ice cream and Tim-tams.

I desperately wanted to buy this book back in New Zealand, entranced by the pink cover and by the fact that it was by a young Kiwi writer. I did not buy it in Aotearoa, but I ended up finally caving a year later and purchasing it anyways. I am not sure if it was
Craig Sisterson
Right, let's lay this out right at the start. This is a marmite book with a capital M. It's full of dislikable, even noxious characters. The main protagonist is a self-absorbed millennial who seems fairly divorced from reality while semi-obsessed with reality TV, an unreliable narrator who snaps to judgement of others while having her own house in disorder.

But despite all of that (and things that might annoy me in other books), for some reason, BABY just works for me. It's a heck of a read - in
Carolyn Mck
This is a very good debut novel. Jochems writes cleverly for someone so young (she is 23) and shows her understanding of young people, especially those who move outside the mainstream. Her writing is spiky, unconventional and engaging.

The main character, Cynthia, is an aimless dropout obsessed by social media and reality TV - and by her fitness coach Anahera, with whom she runs away to the Bay of Islands and buys the boat ‘Baby’. The pair doesn’t attempt to sail the boat - instead they live a h
Tamsien West (Babbling Books)
I honestly don't know how to rate this book, it's somewhere between 3 or 3.5 or 4 stars depending on the way the wind blows. It's a strange book, that defies being put into a neat 'genre' box. It reminds me mostly of Convenience Store Woman, both having protagonists that see the world in a unique way and don't have a clear understanding of why people around them act the way they do (ie. in a way that appears to be normal to the reader).

There is also something interesting and enthralling about a
Scribe Publications
Sultry, sinister, hilarious and demented, Baby blazes with intelligence and murderous black humour. Heavenly Creatures for a new generation.
Eleanor Catton, Author of Man Booker Prize-winning The Luminaries

Patricia Highsmith meets reality TV in this compelling debut. Jochems nudges up the tension until we can’t bear to look — and can’t bear to look away: thrilling, dangerous, and deliciously funny.
Catherine Chidgey, prize-winning author of The Wish Child and The Beat of the Pendulum

This funny, se
James Daly
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Baby's quick and sharp, it's also overt and blunt. It could be a butter-knife but it's also hot so people say it's more like a fire-iron, poking at you constantly. it's uncomfortable, anyone will tell you. I think it's more like a clothes iron, fresh out of the box, a pink handle and a pleasing aesthetic oh la la, but it burns the clothes and spits venom instead. When you're burnt by a fire-iron it hurts in one place, but reading Baby is like being ironed all over, the iron stalling in the more ...more
Feb 21, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
I read this book as the February pick for the Gouda Book Club, the book club my best friend Daphne and I started together.

I really hated this book. It was disturbing and surreal and uncomfortable, and I realise that that was the point, that I was supposed to be disturbed and uncomfortable, but I couldn't appreciate what it was trying to accomplish, because it was all so fucking nasty. I got the point; I just didn't like the point. This book made me feel dirty. It got under my skin, grimy and lo
Lee Kofman
The 21 years old protagonist Cynthia is a motherless daughter of a wealthy and aloof man. She is a drifter who dropped out of university. She finds it difficult to get a job. She even failed McDonald’s employment test, which indicated that she can’t relate to other people. But Cynthia isn’t that interested in getting a job anyway. She prefers the online world and the world of reality TV shows to the tangible world. Her main passions are her French bulldog Snot-head and her fitness instructor Ana ...more
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
I want to give this more than 2 stars, but I really don’t know why. Maybe because I feel like it has artistic merit of some kind, even though I found the prose to be slightly irritating and a little bit try-hardy, like people who go to music festivals and dress all odd and need to prove for some reason that they’re “alternative” even though they aren’t really.

This book was bold and weird and wasn’t afraid to go to dark strange places, but did I really care about what was happening? No, not real
Vaughan Willis
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fit, tan, tasty Anahera (gym instructor); young, not-so-fit, pasty Cynthia; Gordon (the German tourist, but really from Palmerston N); a 15-year-old graffiti-drawing kid who falls out of a tree and dies; Snot-face, Cynthia's slobbering bulldog, which she abandons; Baby, the cramped boat she and Anahera buy with money stolen from Cynthia's father, Ron… Two bad girls run away together and want to steal the "tourist's" money. The stringy blonde Cynthia is more into the taut and older Anahera than A ...more
Ro Weena
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book felt so fresh, unlike any book I’ve read. It has such a strong voice. I read this for my Bookclub via library ecopy but I want to buy it so I can reread bits again, and lend it out.

A disconcerting and compelling millennial thriller-black comedy about obsession. At times really unsettling with its claustrophobic atmosphere and disjointed ‘reality’, hard-to-like characters. Yet somehow it draws you in, you feel like you are right there watching it unfold, a virtual fly on the wall it’s s
Jun 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very young, unlikable, potentially sociopathic people doing not much. Won’t be every ones cup of tea but the sense of dread and claustrophobia was great.
Ashley Lamont
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Strangely beautiful, beautifully strange. Compelling. I'm off to eat a jam sandwich now.
BABY is the story of a self-absorbed, narcissistic pain of a woman who is judgemental, obsessed by minutia, unreliable, untrustworthy, unlikeable and unbelievably compelling.

Which is quite an achievement when you think about it. Partly it's because the book starts out intense and unnerving, and keeps ramping that up to the point where whatever is wrong with Cynthia is nothing compared to whatever "this" is all about. Partly it's because the style is surprisingly low-key, so what starts out as se
Imagine a book-length, slightly more twisted Cat Person, but less hetero-normative (and therefore less about toxic masculinity, though there's still a bit of that), and set on a boat in New Zealand.

It's powerful, in that I felt downright awful about the protagonist -- and by extension, myself -- the entire time I was reading it. Thoughts like, "is it possible that I am somehow this delusional? helpless? pathetic? needy?" frequently popped into my head, and at one point I even had to confirm wit
Baby is a dark and unnerving tale of Cynthia’s unhealthy obsession with her gym instructor Anahera and the claustrophobic life they lead on a boat, named ‘Baby’, after running away together when Anahera’s marriage breaks down. Both women are unlikeable and manipulative with the main protagonist Cynthia quite self-absorbed and with a penchant for reality TV which, together with her inner dialogue, demonstrates her limited grasp of her actual reality.

This was a difficult review for me to write as
Miss Wilson
Jul 14, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nz-authors
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
For much of this novel, I felt that it was a slow read. It was unexpected, then, to reflect on ‘Baby’ once I had finished reading it and to realise that so much actually happened in this novel!
Narrated from Cynthia’s point of view, her narcissism and self-obsession often made it difficult for me to understand exactly what was happening because her reactions and tone were seemingly inconsistent with the events she was narrating. Being caught in her head was an alienating - and often monotonous -
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