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Critical Praise

“In this tender coming-of-age novel, McNeal brings to life a place, an era and an amazing cast of strong, larger-than-life characters. Heartrending, captivating and, ultimately, triumphant.”

—Cassandra King, New York Times bestselling author of MOONRISE

“McNeal’s DOLLBABY is such an impressive debut --- a powerful roux of family drama, long-simmering secrets and resentments and, ultimately, forgiveness and redemption. Deeply evocative, with memorable characters, DOLLBABY belongs on the keeper shelf along with THE HELP and THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES.”

—Mary Kay Andrews, New York Times bestselling author of LADIES’ NIGHT

“Deeply Southern and evocative, Laura Lane McNeal’s beautifully written debut, DOLLBABY, takes us back to a not-so-long ago time when we were learning to look through different eyes at the fabric of our society, race, youth and family."

—Susan Crandall, author of WHISTLING PAST THE GRAVEYARD

"This flavorful and enthralling novel brilliantly captures New Orleans during the civil rights era. It's a deeply personal tale about growing up and searching for family, as well as a provocative exploration of race and kinship. I found it both thrilling and poignant."

—Walter Isaacson, New York Times bestselling author of STEVE JOBS

“There is plenty of mystery and deception in DOLLBABY, but the prevailing theme is love and its power to blast away even the biggest betrayals. Reading this evocative Southern novel is like alternately sipping sweet tea and healthy snorts of bourbon.”

—Lorna Landvik, author of MAYOR OF THE UNIVERSE

“[A] touching coming-of-age story that is sincere and poignant…DOLLBABY is sure to please.” 


“Since McNeal’s novel is bursting with believable conflict and loveable characters, it’s hard to believe that it’s a debut. A vivid portrayal of post-war New Orleans, lush and evocative in its descriptions, McNeal’s unique voice shines through surprising and pleasing the reader.” 

—Library Journal, starred review

“Rich characterization makes McNeal’s debut novel a rich (summer) read.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“Beautifully rendered and perfectly paved, DOLLBABY is one novel this year not to be missed, with just the right amount of mystery mixed with coming of age drama.”


“When someone asks you for a great book to read, usually you pause and think about genre and authors and then give a few options. But every now and then there’s a book you tell everyone to read, because it is that good. DOLLBABY by Laura Lane McNeal is that book.”

—Durham Herald-Sun

“A sassy new Sothern voice! McNeal’s witty prose and expertise on all things New Orleans will enrapture readers of THE HELP and DIVINE SECRETS OF THE YA YA SISTERHOOD.” 

—Book Page