Baby Help

by Marilyn Reynolds

Melissa doesn't consider herself abused—Rudy only hits her when he's drinking—until she realizes the effect his abuse is having on their child. Finally, Melissa leaves Rudy, and she and Cheyenne go to a shelter for battered women. As difficulties with group living arise, however, she misses the good times with Rudy. The clarity of Melissa's decision soon fades, and she finds herself again in a dangerous situation, more trapped than before. Through the compelling character of Melissa, the reader experiences the dangers and complexities of abusive relationships.

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ISBN: 978-1-929777-04-4
224 pages

Grade level: 7 and up

Lexile count: 740

AR: 9.0 IL:UG, BL:4.6

Reviews:Teen readers wrote:

This book really got to me as a teen and it stuck with me even through my adulthood so much so that I had to go out and buy it. I loved this book as a teen. Melissa's story was so real and powerful. She was a girl stuck in a terrible situation with no one to turn to and she had to be a strong person to get her and her daughter out of a tough situation. Very good book!! — Jasmine

This book is So AMAZING i read it in 2 days and i never put it down . i actually shed a tear. — Diva M.

I absolutely loved this book. This is my third time reading it. Marilyn Reynolds is a great author. I am going to continue to buy more of her books. — Aimee D.

School Library Journal wrote:

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.

Booklist wrote:

Gr. 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.

Reviewer’s Bookwatch wrote:

Reflects the realities in many women’s lives.

Midwest Book Review wrote:

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.

About the Author

Marilyn Reynolds is the author of eleven books of realistic teen fiction: Telling, Shut Up, No More Sad Goodbyes, If You Loved Me, Love Rules, Baby Help, But What About Me?, Beyond Dreams, Too Soon for Jeff, Detour for Emmy, and Eddie's Choice, all part of the popular and award-winning True-to-Life Series from Hamilton High. Ms. Reynolds also co-wrote the Emmy-nominated script for the ABC Afterschool Special teleplay of Too Soon for Jeff.

In addition to books for teens, Ms. Reynolds is also the author of a book for educators, I Won’t Read and You Can’t Make Me: Reaching Reluctant Teen Readers; Over 70 and I Don’t Mean MPH,a collection of essays on the gifts and challenges of longevity; and 'Til Death or Dementia Do Us Part, a memoir chronicling her husband's descent into Frontal Temporal Dementia. Her newest book is Over 80: Reflections on Aging, a collection of essays.

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 visits (Zoom or in-person) to middle and high school students ranging from struggling readers to highly motivated writers who are interested in developing work for possible publication. She offers staff development workshops for educators and is a frequent guest speaker for programs and organizations that serve teens, parents, teachers, and writers.

To request a visit, ask a question, or learn more about her work, visit

Other Books By Marilyn Reynolds