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Caul Baby

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  1,081 ratings  ·  220 reviews
New York Times bestselling author Morgan Jerkins makes her fiction debut with this electrifying novel, for fans of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jacqueline Woodson, that brings to life one powerful and enigmatic family in a tale rife with secrets, betrayal, intrigue, and magic.

Laila desperately wants to become a mother, but each of her previous pregnancies has ended in heartbreak.
Audio CD
Published April 6th 2021 by HarperCollins
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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 ·  1,081 ratings  ·  220 reviews

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Apr 08, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Caul Baby just came out this week and is a story loaded with secrets.

The Melancons are a well-known Black family in Harlem with a gift — a caul, an extra layer of skin protecting them from harm. To maintain their home and status in the community, they sell pieces of their caul for premium prices.

Laila reaches out to the Melancons after suffering from numerous miscarriages. When they refuse to help her during her latest pregnancy, Laila’s fury and devastation takes over. Her niece, Amara, secre
I can see this being a favorite for a lot of people come 2021!

I love a book with a solid premise and Caul Baby explores a topic I have never read about. A caul birth is when the baby comes out at birth with the sac (caul) still intact. A caul birth is so rate that 1 in 80,000 persons are born that way… yes! It is a miracle, something special to behold.
In CAUL BABY we meet the Melancons who known in Harlem as dealers of cauls which is a precious piece of skin that offers healing power to th
The Artisan Geek
A story about 'indestructible and psychic black women born with a caul'. I have no idea what this means, but you had me at 'psychic black women' so I'm reading it.

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Elyse  Walters by Janiece Abbott-Pratt
10 hours and 53 minutes

This book is soooo good....
I went in blind...(worked like a charm)

From start to finish ....”Caul Baby” is an engaging fascinating story!
I liked the story, the audiobook narrator, the characters, the family roots and history, the themes of love, loss, sacrifice, motherhood, and the value of family, the emotional integrity, and learning more in-depth about ‘caul’ (amniotic membrane enclosing a fetus)...and the way it’s used to tell
Jan 20, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this book so much - the idea behind the plot, the concept it grapples with of what those with power owe to those in need, the racial politics and history of selling Black bodies for white profit, all of that was unique and interesting. I just couldn't get past the writing - the characters seemed wooden, the dialogue stilted, the descriptions bland. It felt like it needed a few more heavy edits before being released into the world. ...more
Jerkins’ intriguing plot revolves around the magical powers of a caul, the amniotic sac membrane that some babies are born with still intact around their bodies. Jerkins infuses magical realism in the caul and redefines it as a regenerating layer of skin with healing powers.

The Melancons have monetized the caul’s healing powers by first fusing the precious membrane to their babies at birth, and then later cutting off pieces and selling them to mainly wealthy, white customers. The family’s failur
Fascinating premise with lackluster execution. Needs heavy editing. There’s far too much mundane dialogue and not enough depth. I wanted more of the “caul” magic and lore, more of the racial implications and motivations. Instead, every facet is utterly flat.
May 11, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2021
Unusual and interesting family drama with just the right touch of magical realism. Nicely written; absorbing and atmospheric.
Read In Colour
Morgan Jerkins is likely best known for her works of non-fiction: This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female and Feminist in (White) America (a collection of essays) and Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots, her exploration of her family's history before fleeing the South. Caul Baby is her first venture into fiction and it's an interesting one.

Babies born in a caul are said to be special, almost magical. Their birth is good lu
Apr 02, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My 100th read of 2021!!!

4.5 ✨

And I am so glad I picked this book to be book 100! It's so awesome and it's got a lot of elements I just love!

Black women, black women's magic, women's fiction, mother-daughter relationship, marriage and marital issues, fertility issues, grief, family, loss, secrets, betrayal, race and relations, gentrification, black motherhood and mortality, generational trauma, police brutality, and so many other important themes/topics were discussed and explored in this book.
Uchenna (favourite_igbo_boy)
(Caul Baby x Morgan Jerkins //4.4/5 Rating)

Have you ever read gone ahead to read a book just because of the genre without you further knowing anything else about the book?

This was me when I read Caul Baby, and I'm impressed I did.

The primary reason I went for this audiobook on @librofm was due to the fact it was categorized under contemporary literature and the Motherhood genre. But along the line, while listening to the audiobook, I had to check the synopsis and goggle for what the title meant
So this book took a minute for me to get addicted to it, but once I hit that sweet spot, baby, I couldn't get enough of this book. I switched from reading to listening, and the narrator brought this book to life for me. Shout out to Joniece Abbott-Pratt for narrating the hell out of this book!  

Morgan Jerkins takes us on a journey, ok?! She is a griot! In all the meanings of the word 'griot,' she is it. The way she explores the various topics in this book, was amazing! She has school in this boo
May 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: motherhood, race
[review of an ARC]

I came to this already a fan of Morgan Jerkins, as she's a brilliant nonfiction writer, and was interested to see what she could do with fiction. Her debut is what feels like a "big" book that centers Black women, generational trauma and endurance, magical realism, fertility, power and the responsibility of those who have it, mother-daughter relationships, family obligation and independence....really, there is so much to consider while reading this, and it's a wonder how Jerkin
I loved Morgan Jerkins' book This Will Be My Undoing, and I am continually frustrated that more people don't seem interested in reading it, especially this past summer when so many people were posting their anti-racism reading lists all over social media. I was a little surprised when her latest book turned out to be fiction. Not just fiction -- magical realism, which is a genre I have very little patience but a grudging respect for. I was a little heartened when she referenced Toni Morrison in ...more
Why do I feel like a 3-star rating is mediocre??
I don't think Caul Baby is mediocre, it's a good read. It's not like anything I've ever read so I can't compare it to another book. It's probably just me, but there was something missing...a lot was predictable, but I was not expecting the connection that was revealed at the end.

To start at the beginning, Laila is cautiously anticipating the birth of her baby. Her previous pregnancies have resulted in miscarriages, but this time she's farther alo
Apr 24, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While the book has an interesting premise, the writing is really lackluster. Maybe I’m being a little judgemental since I tend to enjoy literary fiction opposed to plain old storytelling. I feel like this book is written more so as a screenplay than a book I should be reading. It’s not a short read, so while I didn’t love the writing the promise of a developing story is what made me hang on. 78% though the book and I felt like.. this isn’t really getting anywhere. The storyline was just way too ...more
Dec 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved every minute of this story!
This book was difficult to get through. It was just too drawn out and dry. I didn’t get genuinely interested in a way that held my attention until chapter 18. I only finished this book because I started it. I’m declining to score/rate but if I had to it would be a 3
Apr 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a beast of a story! Emotionally draining, but damn good.
Thanks to Libro.FM and Harper audio for the complimentary copy.

I wanted to LOVE this book. The premise about an enigmatic family with a caul that is coveted for its healing properties is intriguing. I was here for the secrets, lies, betrayal, the longing and desperate ambition. I expected an epic and engrossing multi-generational saga. It was a promising start. While I did enjoy the story, I found it it overly long, wordy, and clunky. As characters in the book have to reckon with the damage thei
Elon Green
Nov 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best novels I've read in years. It manages to be simultaneously about New York, gentrification, the exploitation of Black women, and generational trauma. If that sounds like a difficult trick to pull off, well, you're correct.

"Caul Baby" is a high-wire act from first page to last, and there's not a single misstep.
Daniel Shindler
Apr 10, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A caul is the amniotic membrane that encloses a gestating fetus. In an extremely rare number of births, the caul still encloses the newly born baby. In many cultures and folklore, a baby born with a caul is considered a form of good luck and an omen of the child having a “second sight.” Morgan Jerkins uses this phenomenon to construct a story of magic realism with allegorical overtones that is set in Harlem beginning in 1998. Long considered a Mecca of Black culture, Harlem in 1998 is entering a ...more
Phoebe Kiekhofer
Phenomenally written. I could not put this down. The plot is masterful and each character’s nuance is explores and connected to the others’. The other thing I loved is that characters’ motives, feelings, and emotions are often explored through the lens of other characters (this is a multi-perspective story) and it adds a lot of depth to the overall story.
Myra Schmitz
May 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So good and well written!!
Richelle Robinson
4/ 1-2 stars

Solid debut by Morgan Jerkins. I’m shocked this is a debut novel. I feel like any review I will give away the storyline and I don’t want to be that person. I would have liked more closure in one particular area, but overall I really enjoyed this story. This book touched on racism, generational trauma, gentrification among several other important topics. I would love to see this book made into a limited series on a streaming network. Definitely recommend reading this book!
Erricka Hager
2.5 ✨ rounded up to 3

This started off really strong and then the last 1/2 of the book completely lost me. I think Jenkins tried to do too much with the second half of the book which lead to confusion.

I loved the premise of this book - intergenerational families, the selling of Black bodies, magical realism, DOULAS - but the execution was poor. I found myself getting bored or zoning out in certain parts of the story because it just didn’t make sense.
May 01, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021
This was overall a very interesting good read. Up until about 50% and the story slowed significantly.

I love the Harlem setting and the magical part.
DNF. I will keep the 'did not finish' book nearby for another attempt at reading this difficult novel. Difficult for me because I just couldn't get into it. It's not the author --- it's me. I'll try again later.
Sorry, but it's a no-go for now.
Jan 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is Morgan Jerkins's first fiction book and wow what a fantastic one. Highly recommend. ...more
Melanie’s reads
3.5 stars

I am a forty seven year old white woman who has only known two black people my entire life, so I can’t even begin with my ignorance on black lives, culture and tradition. What I can relate to is losing babies and my experience of that is probably a lot different to that faced by a black mother. That’s the great thing about reading though, it gives you the extraordinary chance of seeing things from a different perspective and opens you up to worlds unlike your own.

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Morgan Jerkins is the author of the New York Times bestseller, This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America and the forthcoming Wandering In Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots.

A graduate of Princeton University and the Bennington Writing Seminars, Jerkins is the current Senior Editor at ZORA of Medium and for

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“am, and I haven’t forgotten you. I can tell you ain’t never had no children. Your hips the size of my ironing board. You walk around here all high and mighty. You ain’t nothing but a doll. A pretty doll in a big ol’ dollhouse.” She spat on Josephine’s pump. “You’ll reap what you sow. You hear me?” 0 likes
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