Early Daze by Jennifer Gilby Roberts

Early Daze by Jennifer Gilby Roberts
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (73 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Life has always gone smoothly for Jess, but then she got pregnant and it wasn’t just her breakfast that started going down the pan. And now her baby has “fallen out” before she’s even started anti-natal classes.

Suddenly she’s sucked into the bubble of the Neonatal Unit, where tensions run high and the real world feels very far away. She’s got a new home, new routines, new friends and even a new crush – and sleep deprivation, stress and separation are threatening to tear her neat little world apart.

When it’s time for Jess to go home, what will she be going home to? And who will she be going home with?

Some people say that adversity makes you stronger, but Jess isn’t so sure about that. Even the toughest person will eventually crack if they’re subjected to too much pressure.

The character development in this novella is phenomenal. When I first met Jess she was still reeling from the unexpected delivery of her very premature daughter. She was understandably quite traumatized by this experience, and for the first few chapters most of Jess’ personality is revealed by well she does (and does not) cope with the various health problems her baby faces.

What really impressed me, though, was what happens once Jess adjusts to her new routine. As glimpses of the sheltered but ultimately kind-hearted woman she once was begin to surface I couldn’t help but to wish she were a real person. Jess has more than her fair share of a few faults, but she’s not afraid to own up to them when they bring out her dark side.

A strong supporting cast of secondary characters rounded out the rest of the plot. It’s difficult to discuss the other parents Jess meets who are visiting their own sick babies without giving away spoilers, but their backstories are incredibly well done. Such a diverse cast of characters probably wouldn’t have gotten to know one another under normal circumstances, yet their differences are overshadowed by this painful experience that all of them now share.

I never would have thought to include a love triangle in a tale about a woman whose baby was born several months early, but for this particular piece it works really well. Sometimes crushes develop at inopportune times. What happens after this subplot heats up is a big part of the reason why I gave this story such a high rating.

I was so mesmerized by Early Daze that I read the whole thing in one sitting. It’s something I will be passing on to everyone I know who has a seriously ill loved one. The emotions in this story transcend the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit experience, and I will just as heartily recommend it to anyone with even a fleeting interest in what it’s like for a family to deal with a life-threatening event.


  1. Thank you so much for this lovely review!

  2. Astilbe says:

    You’re welcome. I had a wonderful time reading it. 🙂

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