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Gr. 7-12. After the death of her mother, high-schooler Ruby is sent from Boston to L.A. to live with the father she has never met: He's such a scumbag / that he divorced my mother / before I was even born. The scumbag is Whip Logan, a famous movie actor, but Ruby is too angry to be impressed; at the airport she wonders whether to ask him for his autograph, / or kick him in the balls. Sones' latest free-verse novel follows Ruby through her first few months in her new home, a mansion where her every desire is granted--except what she longs for most: her best friend, her boyfriend, and of course, her mother. Sones' novel is an unusual combination of over-the-top Hollywood fairy tale and sharp, honest story about overcoming grief. Teens may predict the novel's surprises long before Ruby discovers them, including a revelation about Whip's sexuality, and, as in every fairy tale, many things are too good to be true--especially Whip's eager devotion and celebrity. It's Ruby's first-person voice--acrimonious, raw, and very funny--that pulls everything together, whether she is writing e-mails to her deceased mother, attending Dream Analysis class at a private L.A. high school, or finally learning to accept her father and embrace a new life. A satisfying, moving novel that will be a winner for both eager and reluctant readers. --Gillian Engberg Copyright 2004 Booklist
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This winning portrayal of a teenage girl's loves and losses, written in Sones's (What My Mother Doesn't Know) signature free-verse style, opens as 15-year-old Ruby is en route from Boston to L.A. ("Hell A" as she calls it). Following her mother's untimely death (in a poem called "Maybe You're Wondering About It," Ruby furiously says, "But that's just tough./ Because I'm not even going to go in/ to how she died"), Ruby leaves behind her best friend Lizzie and her boyfriend Ray, to live with a father she's never met. Whip Logan, a famous actor, seems anxious to kindle a relationship; however, when Ruby meets him, she thinks: "I don't know whether/ to ask him for his autograph,/ kick him in the balls,/ or run." The scene in California proves "deeply surreal": neighbor Cameron Diaz pops over, Brad Pitt grins at her in the local bookstore, and at the high school she enrolls in "Dream Interpretation Through the Ages." The only person Ruby feels comfortable with is her father's live-in "assistant/slash personal trainer," Max, whom Ruby believes is gay. Sones gives the audience clear signals of what Ruby can't allow herself to take in. Readers will accept some melodrama because, even with a few contrivances, Ruby's voice conveys genuine emotions. Ages 12-up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal
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Gr 7-10-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 wordplays. 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. Despite several predictable particulars of plot, Ruby's story is gripping, enjoyable, and memorable.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.