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Baby of the Family (Harvest Book) Paperback – May 31, 1991

4.1 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this engaging coming-of-age novel by a new black writer, young Lena McPherson leads a charmed life, secure in her family and in the world Ansa evokes. Born in 1949 in a private blacks-only hospital in rural Georgia, Lena is the third child and longed-for first daughter of Nellie and Jonah, who own the local bar and liquor store. Considered "special" because she was born with a caul, believed to bestow sight into the future, Lena learns as a toddler that her special powers have more to do with the past: she can see and talk with ghosts. Despite her extraordinary talent, Lena is most memorable for the ordinariness of her everyday life. Following Lena's first friendships, her years at school, her observations of her parents' sometimes stormy relationship, her grief at her grandmother's death, Ansa beautifully renders Lena's stable, well-off world. Readers get a view of middle-class black small-town life in the relatively placid mid-century, a time when a grandmother scorns the black families who vacation at the beach, and where a little girl often feels her life is dictated solely by demands that she keep her hair dry and combed. Ansa's thorough and affectionate portrait marks her as a writer of both promise and achievement.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA-- A coming-of-age novel with ethnic and supernatural threads that weave reality with the mystical. Born in Georgia in the late 1950s, Lena McPherson was special at birth--she was born with a caul or veil over her face, indicating the presence of magical and psychic powers. Young adults are sure to relate to Lena as she grows up with her family, her peers, and the other adults who frequent her parents' successful bar and liquor store business. Besides the human characters, Lena also learns to deal with apparitions that only she can see, such as Rachel, a young slave who gives Lena insight into what slavery was like and the emotional effects it had on the individual. Ansa's dialogue is realistic, and her characters are colorful. The supernatural elements are well blended into the novel, adding to the richness of the fiction.
- Krystal K. Irven, Willowridge High School, Sugarland, TX
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Harvest Book
  • Paperback: 265 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (May 31, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156101505
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156101509
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #584,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
BABY OF THE FAMILY read like two seperate novels, and that was a problem for me. The first few chapters dealt with Lena's sixth sense and I was captivated. Then, the book shifted into a coming of age story that took up the majority of the novel. Lena's powers were not addressed anymore until the last three chapters, and by then, I didn't care anymore. Had the novel stayed true to the plot, I am sure it would have been a great read, but because it deviated and didn't jump back on track until the end, the entire novel was a let down.
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Format: Paperback
I had read so many great things about the author that I decided to check out all her books starting from the beginning with Baby of the Family. Although I think the author did a great job with imagery and detailed description, I was somewhat slightly disappointed with the plot. It started off great - Lena's birth with the veil over her face, visits from ghosts, and the superstitious undertones set the tone for a juicy plot and then NOTHING for the majority of the book. I was so disappointed; the novel had great potential to be so much better.
It went on to become an elongated coming of age story that concentrated on select moments of Lena's adolescence. Interesting characters were sprinkled in the book; but often exited with no closure to their story lines. I actually found myself wanting to know more about other characters, as they were more interesting than the mediocre clips into Lena's teenage years.
I enjoyed the author's style but questioned the delivery of plot. I haven't given up on the author, I hope to jump into Ugly Ways next.
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Format: Paperback
I liked this book mainly for the realism. The story line was excellent but I felt there could have been more to it. When I read the synopsis before purchasing the book, it made me think there was going to be a whole lot of ghosts, good and bad, and the nurse was going to constantly enforce the importance of the caul and the formula that she had made. But the story read to quickly through everything. Lena's teenage years were no more than a couple of chapter's, her young years in school was recognized only a few times in the novel and a lot of other stuff that should have been included, wasn't. I think it would have been a great story if it had a little more time put into it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was so glad to find this book in a hard cover version. I brought this as a gift for a co-worker. We had both read the sequal to this book, "The Hand I Fan With," but we could never find the Baby of The Family . I really enjoyed Tina McElroy Ansa's books. I wish she would've written more.

The book arrived quickly and in good condition. I was very happy.
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Format: Paperback
The story is not very interesting. The book has too much discription of the furniture in the house and not enough of a story line. I wanted to read more about ghosts and Lena's supernatural powers. This is a typical coming of age story with one or two ghost stories thrown in. I was truly disappointed.
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Format: Paperback
This book was excellent! Very deep and detailed. I love the way the author talks about the relationship of the whole family. Many people expected this to be more sci-fi than fiction...I think this had the right combonation of both elements. A must read for anyone.
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By A Customer on November 12, 1998
Format: Paperback
While I feel that this was not Ansa's best work. The book was very amusing. This was my first time reading about a baby born with a caul. After reading, I felt enlightened.
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Format: Paperback
I grew up in Mulberry Heights community in a small town in Alabama. It is quite uncanny the similarities to how I grew up as the "baby of the family" in my home town.Lena is truly one of a kind. I have read all of Tina's books. I found "You Know Better" the only one I couldn't relate to. This is way off track but I am anxious to know what happens to Lena after "The Hand I Fan With." I believe it was left with a questionable reason for a sequel.
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