One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies


Ruby is headed out to California to live with her famous movie star father, who has been absent her entire life. Her mother has just passed away from an illness and Ruby watched her get sick and held her hand when she died. She doesn’t want to leave Boston where her Aunt, best friend, and boyfriend live. We find Ruby is sarcastic and uses humor and exaggeration to help her cope with her situation. We also learn she is not going to be nice to this “scumbag” of a father that “divorced [her] mother/before [she] was even born.”


The structure of a verse novel provides a lot of white space which could make it more appealing to read for some readers. The author most often uses repetition to convey Ruby’s true feelings or thoughts within these poems that serve as chapters. The verse form allows Ruby’s voice to use run-on sentences with a lot of detail without truly having run-ons. The text can be read as regular sentences, ignoring line breaks, but the breaks offer the narrator emphasis to what she is saying with sarcasm. The last few lines of each chapter are often insight as to what has happened. The verse is broken with the prose letters between Ruby, her best friend Liz and her boyfriend Ray. The story is strong with twists to keep the reader guessing, and ultimately, has a lot of heart.


Fifteen-year-old Ruby talks about a lot of different things-her relationships with her best friend and boyfriend, being homesick, fitting in at a new school without knowing the unspoken rules, trying to make new friends, coping with the loss of her mother and the absence of her close aunt, and getting along with her father and his assistant, Max. Middle school and high school girls, more than boys, will find this most appealing and will be able to relate to many of Ruby’s situations. The vocabulary is relatively simple, and the short line breaks make it an easier and more appealing read for struggling readers, as they can read one line at a time, comprehend the meaning, and then continue without being left out of the story. More advanced readers will find it appealing because of the verse form, noting the location of the line breaks and how that impacts the meaning, as well as the use of other poetic elements such as repetition and the sparse use of rhyme. I really enjoyed this book and read it in a single afternoon.


270 pages    978-0689858208  Ages  12 and up

Recommended by:  Anna Montgomery, Librarian, USA

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