Dena Nordstrom is finally making it big in TV–she is being recognized for awards and is being offered jobs of a lifetime as journalist/anchorwoman. However, her life feels empty and as of late she has been suffering from panic attacks and stomach problems. When she is ordered to go to a psychiatrist for help handling her stress, she begins to take a deep look at her life and the source of her continual push for success at all costs.
Set mostly in the 1970s, with the exception of a few flashbacks, Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! is Dena’s story of self-discovery but also of discoveries she makes about her mysterious past. Dena’s father died while fighting in World War II before Dena was born and she and her mother moved around from town to town throughout her childhood as if they were running from something. Dena’s mother, too, has passed away although Dena does not like to talk about the details and prefers to keep her life a secret–but could this be because Dena doesn’t really know her past or her mother? When she begins to dig deeper into her life will she be prepared for the secrets she will uncover?
Along with Dena there is a cast of characters from a small town in Missouri where Dena’s father was from. As Laura from Reading Reflections mentioned in her review of Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven, the characters of Aunt Elner, Norma, and Macky were a lot of fun and very endearing. Relatives of Dena, they take her in when she is trying to hide from the present and trying to figure out her past. Also Dena’s college roommate Sookie is a hoot–and through these characters I got the true Southern Lit feel that I was hoping for in the novel.
After reading and loving Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man last year, I had high expectations for this book that unfortunately weren’t met. Overall the writing is pleasant and the story was interesting, but the big surprise at the end was totally out of the blue taking me on a tangent that just didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the story. Also, there is a sort-of love story ends up working out perfectly with little development. And the book spans about five years, but the only way the reader would know this is by reading the chapter headers–again the development of the novel doesn’t quite fit the time span. All that being said, I’m glad that I read it and hope the next Flagg book I read is more like Daisy Fay in all of its wonderful, sassy quirkiness.