Saturday, June 13, 2009

Summer teen reading - One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies, by Sonya Sones

Summer reading - what do you like? Personally, I like a combination of books: riveting adventures and quick heartfelt friendship stories. Sonya Sones is a great author for young teens who like heartfelt, real stories about friends. For the young teens in your life, I'd highly recommend One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies. Don't let the title turn you off - this is a great story about a young girl coming to know her dad after her mother dies.
One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies
by Sonya Sones
NY: Simon & Schuster, c2004. 268 p.
ages 12 - 16
This 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.
Welcome to California
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
Ruby 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.

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.


  1. The book seams really nice :)

  2. Interested in some teen fiction from overseas? Try Dangerous Days: The Autobiography of a Photojournalist, a n Australian adventure novel of four separate but connected stories released recently in New York by Eloquent Books/AEG Publishing.

  3. Hi Mary Ann,
    I am a huge Sonya Sones fan! I've used two of her books for 8th grade girl book clubs with huge success. They love how frank the books are and how she accurately depicts emotions they are experiencing!