One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother DiesThis book starts with Ruby on an airplane, leaving all that she knows behind, to go live with her dad, Whip Logan - an all-star movie actor, and in Ruby's eyes, an all-star jerk. Ruby's mother has just died of cancer, and now she must move across the country to LA to live with her dad whom she's never met.
by Sonya Sones
NY: Simon & Schuster, c2004. 268 p.
ages 12 - 16
Welcome to CaliforniaRuby longs for her mother, her boyfriend and her best friend. She pushes her father away at every chance she gets. Having turned her grief into anger, Ruby spends most of her time either criticizing her father or writing desperate emails to her boyfriend, best friend and dead mother. But slowly, she starts dealing with her new school, making a few friends, and realizing things about her dad.
He says it like he's rehearsed it.
But he says it like he means it.
Like he really, really means it.
so what if he does?
Because I'm here to tell him
that he can't just ooze out
onto the stage of my life
and play my father.
Not after Mom did all the hard work
of teaching me to be a decent human being,
which is something he obviously couldn't have done
even if he'd bothered to try
since he clearly doesn't know the first thing
about being one himself.
I'm here to tell him
that this is going to be
the toughest role he's ever had to play.
(c) Sonya Sones
Sones' novel is written in free verse poetry, and is a quick satisfying read. Teens will definitely like how this tells Ruby's story from her point of view. It's a combination of unrealistic Hollywood tale, and authentic exploration of overcoming grief. Ruby's voice is sharp and witty, and at points made me laugh out loud.
As a mom, I'd want to know that this book doesn't get into the details of how Ruby's mom died, but it does show Ruby longing for her boyfriend and wanting to explore her sexuality with him. This is a book that will hook young teens looking for a satisfying summer read. It would make a great book to talk about together, as it explores issues of grief, sexuality, and family. But I would definitely say it's for grades 7 and up.
Find it at your local independent bookstore, Amazon or public library.