Wednesday, October 8, 2008

One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies

Sones, Sonya. 2004. One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0689858205

Plot SummaryCheck Spelling
Four months are chronicled here in prose, depicting the highlights of fifteen-year-old Ruby Milliken's move from Boston to LA after the death of her mother, when she meets her famous movie-star father for the first time.

Critical Analysis
Sones gives an excellent first person view of the emotional ups and downs a teen goes through when faced with a double-whammy of losing a parent and then having to move away from all that is familiar. the writing is clear, vivid, and allows one to step into the heart and mind of the main character, through insights such as "I didn't know how much I depended on being depended on by her [mother]".
The writing flows through the days and weeks using the title of each page to give the reader hints to what the main idea of the entry is about. Different fonts gives the eyes a break when the main character is emailing or receiving email from her friends back home. The character is also shown emailing her deceased mother, giving the reader another glimpse into the heart and soul of this teen.
The pace is fast, intriguing, and telling and will keep a young teen interested until the final page.

Review Excerpts
School Library Journal starred review: "In one-to-two page breezy poetic prose-style entries, 15-year-old Ruby Milliken describes her flight from Boston to California and her gradual adjustment to life with her estranged movie-star father following her mother's death. E-mails to her best friend, her boyfriend, and her mother ("in heaven") and outpourings of her innermost thoughts display her overwhelming unhappiness and feelings of isolation, loss, and grief ("...most days/I wander around Lakewood feeling invisible.?Like I'm just a speck of dust/floating in the air/that can only be seen/when a shaft of light hits it"). Ruby's affable personality is evident in her humorous quips and clever word plays. Her depth of character is revealed through her honest admissions, poignant revelations, and sensitive insights. This is not just another one of those gimmicky novels written in poetry. It's solid and well written, and Sones has a lot to say about the importance of carefully assessing people and situations and about opening the door to one's own happiness...Ruby's story is gripping, enjoyable, and memorable."

Many text-to-self connections can be made between the text and the reader. The novel can be used as a springboard for students to journal in class or to send emails to the teacher.
The novel could also be used in a book club setting allowing discussion between the students facilitated by a teacher.

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