Getting Near to Baby

Book review by
Maria Strom, Common Sense Media
Getting Near to Baby Book Poster Image
Moving story of grief and recovery.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 2 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Protesting situations in a manner that places a younger sibling in danger.


Death of sibling. Father's desertion. Control conflicts between a preteen and an adult older sister.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the beautifully handled nonlinear plot and the vivid language keep readers engaged, but the slow, sad story makes it less appealing.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10-year-old Written bytrombone May 10, 2011

Worth it.

Very well written. Sad story. Really good.
Teen, 14 years old Written bymychemialromance November 23, 2008
Teen, 16 years old Written byBAD_singer April 9, 2008

What's the story?

When Baby dies, tragedy affects everyone in the family differently. They must find their own paths through grief, in their own time, and this may not match another's schedule or needs. The wisdom of one family member in supporting these differences results in healing. This moving story of grief and recovery is told in an eccentric, nonlinear fashion.


Is it any good?

The moving story line highlights the shattering effect of grief in 12-year-old Willa Jo Dean's family. It echoes Willa Jo's fragmentary process of working through grief over her baby sister's death and its debilitating effects on Mom. It also adds to the satisfaction of the family reunion at book's end. Some children may have a hard time with the sad topic and the slow pace of the story.

Willa Jo is portrayed as a spunky girl fighting to help her sister, while struggling to be of help to Mom, by living with rule-making Aunt Patty. Willa Jo sounds adult, partly as a result of the book's engaging Southern voice and partly because she's the older sister.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Willa Jo handles her baby sister's illness and death and its effects on her mother. How does Willa Jo try to help her mother and sister? What do you think of her efforts?

Book details

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate