Baby Help

Baby Help is a novel about teen partner abuse. Melissa is frequently beaten by her boyfriend, Rudy. Although the couple has a baby, Cheyenne, they live with Rudy’s mother, Irma, who uses Melissa’s welfare check to help pay the rent. Melissa finds no help with the abuse from Irma. Her advice is for Melissa to learn when to shut up so that she won’t provoke Rudy’s anger. In the meanwhile, Melissa cooks dinner and cleans up Irma’s house, takes Cheyenne to an on-campus daycare center for children of students, and attends school. In spite of her busy schedule, Melissa receives good grades and hopes to graduate.


When Melissa hears a guest speaker talk about partner abuse in her Peer Counseling class, she knows that many of the indicators of abuse fit her life, but she believes that things will be better soon, when she and Rudy go up to Las Vegas to be married. However, in one of his fits of anger, Rudy shoves Cheyenne into her crib and Melissa realizes that a life with him may include child abuse as well as partner abuse. She decides to get help and finds herself in a shelter for battered women (all the women there seem to be young—teenagers).


It would seem that the rest of the story will center on Melissa’s progress toward a successful life without Rudy. However, she misses him and in a fit of loneliness and weariness of the shelter, Melissa calls Irma and has her come to take her and Cheyenne “home.” Irma is angry and says that if Melissa ever runs away again, she will have the police out after her for kidnapping and child endangerment. Melissa doesn’t know if this is possible since Cheyenne is her own child. Irma reminds Melissa that Melissa’s own mother rarely sees her and has made no effort to care for her or the baby.


Melissa continues to suffer more violent assaults as well as threats about going to school. Though Melissa’s teachers think she is an exemplary student, Rudy is paranoid that Melissa is having an affair with a teacher. She must decide what to do about his bizarre behavior.


About Victoria Waddle

I'm a high school librarian, formerly an English teacher. I love to read and my mission is to connect people with the right books. To that end, I read widely--from the hi-lo for reluctant high school readers to the literary adult novel for the bibliophile.
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