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Baby Help
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About the Author

Marilyn Reynolds is the author of eleven books of realistic teen fiction, all part of the popular and award-winning True-to-Life Series from Hamilton High. Marilyn is also the author of a book for educators, I Won't Read and You Can't Make Me: Reaching Reluctant Teen Readers, and a collection of essays, Over 70 and I Don't Mean MPH. She has a variety of published personal essays to her credit, and was nominated for an Emmy for the ABC Afterschool Special teleplay of Too Soon for Jeff. Ms. Reynolds worked with reluctant learners and teens in crises at a southern California alternative high school for thirty years. She remains actively involved in education through author presentations to middle and high school students ranging from struggling readers to highly motivated writers who are interested in developing work for possible publication. In the introduction to her book on techniques to help reluctant readers (I Won't Read and You Can't Make Me), Marilyn writes: "Over time I came to realize that the greatest gift I could give to my students, many of whom would have no formal schooling after they left [high school], was the gift of a reading habit. Silent reading time became the backbone of my program." She quotes a study in the the Los Angeles Times reporting that the single most significant factor in determining a person's success in life is whether they read for pleasure. She published her first novel, Telling, with the encouragement of Gloria Miklowitz, a well-known writer of young adult fiction. Telling dealt with molestation, and students at her school became avid readers (and critics) of the manuscript. In the process, "students were developing a critical sense, using literary terms, analyzing character and motivation. And they were paying attention to the specifics of language use." Encouraged by the experience, she went on to write a realistic novel about teen pregnancy, Detour for Emmy. She believes that "the essence of sustained silent reading has to do with the increased understanding of one's self and the world, of enabling the wounded to heal, the isolated to know they are not alone, the bigoted to see the humanity of others." Marilyn Reynolds is a passionate advocate of the benefits of writing in addition to reading. She promotes writing through participation in the 916 Ink program, and works with incarcerated youth in the Sacramento area. She engages with teens in a local continuation high school, and through visiting schools as an author. She also presents staff development workshops for educators and is often a guest speaker for programs and organizations that serve teens, parents, teachers, and writers.

Reviews

Grade 7 and Up. Melissa, a senior at Hamilton High School, lives with her child, the child's father, and his mother. The teen has convinced herself that Rudy's need to control and abuse her isn't really a problem, but when he turns on their daughter, she knows she must get out and get help. As with Reynolds's other titles, this offering is a bit didactic in its intent to raise the consciousness of readers about pertinent personal and social issues. The author is very successful in creating characters that YAs will relate to and be interested in. The plot development successfully depicts the protagonist's growing awareness of her situation. Her gradual understanding of her personal rights and the increasing severity of the abuse are realistic and familiarize readers with both the emotional and practical issues involved. The dialogue is authentic and is more likely to hold the interest of reluctant readers than nonfiction titles on this topic. The title is repeated throughout as the protagonist's baby's expression of the need to do things for herself, a not-so-subtle message that asks young people to stand up for themselves and take charge of their own futures. - School Library JournalGr. 8^-12. Being a teen mom, living with your boyfriend and his mother, and trying to finish high school are even more difficult when your boyfriend is physically and verbally abusive and his mother claims it's your fault. This is Melissa Fisher's life-a life she accepts until boyfriend Rudy begins the same abusive patterns with two-year-old Cheyenne. True to other books in her Hamilton High series, Reynolds carefully explores the problem of partner abuse, guiding Melissa through the complexities of identifying the problem, exploring ways to escape its destructive effects, and facing the reality of living with its solution. Although she occasionally verges on the didactic, Reynolds understands Melissa's dilemma: her need for love and support and a dad for Cheyenne, the pull to return to the patterns and security of old ways, and the legal ramifications of escaping them. Good parenting techniques are incorporated naturally into the narration. - BooklistReflects the realities in many women's lives. - Reviewer's Bookwatch The latest in the "True-to-Life from Hamilton High" series, Marilyn Reynolds' Baby Help is a novel of the nightmare of teen domestic abuse. A young mother doesn't see herself as battered because her boyfriend "only" hits her when he's been drinking... until he starts behaving abusively toward her daughter. That's when she realizes it's time to get out of the relationship - but after she reaches a shelter for battered women, she has second thoughts about leaving, which place her and her daughter's life in mortal jeopardy. Baby Help is a powerfully written fictional treatment of a very real and dangerous issue facing teens today. - Midwest Book Review

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