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Honey, Baby, Sweetheart

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Overview

I'm not usually a reckless person. What happened the summer of my junior year was not about recklessness. It was about the way a moment, a single moment, can change things and make you decide to try to be someone different.

Ruby McQueen is a sixteen-year-old high school student with the name, she thinks, of a rodeo cowgirl porn star, or, maybe worse, a Texas beauty queen runner-up. Her mother, Ann, one of the town librarians, was reading too much Southern literature before Ruby ...

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New York, NY 2005 Trade paperback New. Clean and tight-unused copy-Excellent! ! Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 308 p. Audience: Children/juvenile; Young adult.

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Honey, Baby, Sweetheart

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Overview

I'm not usually a reckless person. What happened the summer of my junior year was not about recklessness. It was about the way a moment, a single moment, can change things and make you decide to try to be someone different.

Ruby McQueen is a sixteen-year-old high school student with the name, she thinks, of a rodeo cowgirl porn star, or, maybe worse, a Texas beauty queen runner-up. Her mother, Ann, one of the town librarians, was reading too much Southern literature before Ruby was born, and Chip, Ruby's father, who was already dreaming of Nashville stardom, thought it would make a great stage name someday. Soon after Chip Jr. was born, Chip left to try his luck in the music business and ended up at the Gold Nugget Amusement Park one state over. He returns occasionally for visits that turn Ann's heart upside down, and Ruby's stomach inside out.

It is summer in the northwest town of Nine Mile Falls, a place where brown bears sometimes show up in the shopping mall and people in hang gliders soar down the mountains and sometimes get stuck dangling from the trees. Ruby, ordinarily dubbed The Quiet Girl, finds herself hanging out with gorgeous, rich, thrill-seeking Travis Becker. With Travis, Ruby can be someone she's never been before: Fearless. Powerful. But Ruby is in over her head, and finds she is risking more and more when she's with him.

In an effort to keep Ruby occupied and mend her own broken heart, Ann drags Ruby to the weekly book club she runs for seniors. At first Ruby can't imagine a more boring way to spend an afternoon, but she is soon charmed by the Casserole Queens (named, quite ironically, after women who bring casseroles to new widowers' homes in hopes ofsnagging a husband). When the group discovers one of their own members is the subject of the tragic love story they are reading, Ann and Ruby ditch their respective obsessions to spearhead a reunion between the long-ago lovers. But this mission turns out to be more than just a road trip. Somewhere along the way Ruby and her mother learn the true meaning of love and freedom from it, individual purpose, and the real ties that bind.

This lyrical, multigenerational story of love, loss, and redemption speaks to everyone who has ever been in love — and lived to tell the tale.

Right then one of the garage doors went up, giving me the fright of my life. I felt frozen in place, and I wasn't sure if I would seem more guilty staying where I was or walking on after I'd already surely been spotted. I don't even know why I felt so bad when it was really only a glimpse I had been stealing. My feet, by default, made the decision whether we were staying or going — they wouldn't move. So as the door went up, same as a curtain when a play is starting, revealing Travis Becker on that almost stage, I was still standing there, staring.

I didn't know it was Travis then, of course. I only saw this boy, good-looking, oh God, with a helmet under one arm, looking at me with this bemused smile. Right away I got that Something About To Happen feeling. Right away I knew he was bad, and that it didn't matter.

— from Honey, Baby, Sweetheart


Finalist for the 2004 National Book Award for Young People's Literature

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Shy high schooler Ruby McQueen earned the nickname Quiet Girl. But that was before she began hanging out with good-looking, rich, thrill-seeking Travis Becker. Perfectly modulated; seductively plausible.
Publishers Weekly
Ultimately rewarding, this novel about a high school girl who steps out of her role as "The Quiet Girl" for a summer of "passion and adventure... the stuff of the books at the Nine Mile Library where my mother works," shares both the strengths and pitfalls of Caletti's The Queen of Everything. When Ruby gets involved with handsome, motorcycle-riding and rich Travis, she likes that he sees her as fearless. But he is also dangerous, and spellbound Ruby gradually gets sucked into first reckless and then criminal acts. In a concerted effort to help Ruby break away from Travis, her librarian mother, who has just endured a betrayal of her own, begins overseeing Ruby's schedule and takes her to the book club she facilitates for feisty senior citizens, the Casserole Queens-which leads to a whole other story line involving one of their members, a stroke victim who may or may not have been the lover of a famous author. There is a lot of plot, often requiring the audience's leaps of faith over not especially believable moments, and Caletti's prose, laden with strikingly apt comparisons, can make this book feel dense. Even so, so much here is uncommonly vivid, especially the exchanges among Ruby, her mother and her younger brother. Readers who stay with it will find thoughtful and authentically inspiring messages about trusting in themselves enough to insist on a love that means more than being someone's "honey, baby, sweetheart." Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT
Sometimes we are all susceptible to the honey, baby, sweetheart lure—weak even though part of us knows a particular romance is dangerous. Ruby is the narrator, and she starts by telling us about seeing the motorcycle belonging to a handsome rich boy named Travis, and how this changes the summer after her junior year in high school. She can't resist Travis and the thrill of riding fast sitting behind him racing through the dark. So she sneaks out, she lies; then Travis reveals the truth about himself: he is a risk-taker to the extreme, breaking into people's houses, stealing. Ruby knows he is bad, and she thinks what he is doing is wrong—but it's almost impossible to resist him and the excitement of loving him. Two other love stories are happening concurrently. Ruby's mother, a wonderful character—she's a librarian, after all—finds it almost impossible to resist her ex-husband, the father of Ruby and Ruby's brother. Ruby has seen her mother accept her father back, time and time again, being used and discarded. When Ruby's mother discovers Ruby's difficulties getting rid of Travis, the two form a game plan to get over these men. Part of the plan is to keep busy, and one of the ways to keep busy is to be involved in a book discussion group of elderly people who meet regularly. This may seem boring on the face of it—but these folks are outrageous in many ways and certainly not boring. One of the members, Lillian, who has had a stroke, has been separated from her soul mate, a famous writer she knew when they were young. When he finds out Lillian is sick, he urges them to bring Lillian to him in California where he will take care of her. So, Ruby, Ruby's mother, and thegroup kidnap Lillian from the nursing home and manage to get her safely to her lover in California—several days away by car—partly to prove to themselves there is such a thing as love. Caletti fills the pages with wonderful images, sharp dialogue, and memorable characters. This is longer and more involved than most YA novels, but many YAs will enjoy every bit of it. Caletti is also the author of The Queen of Everything. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2004, Simon & Schuster, 308p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Claire Rosser
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-During the summer of her junior year, shy, quiet Ruby McQueen falls in love with the rich boy down the block. After their first motorcycle ride, Travis gives her a beautiful gold chain, and she wears it everywhere. Only later, while on a date with him, does she learn where he gets his gifts-he breaks into houses and steals jewelry. Ruby struggles with her conflicted feelings for him. Her parents are separated and hardly stellar examples when it comes to relationships. By spending time with the Casserole Queens (her librarian mother's senior-citizen book group) and listening to their life stories, the teen and her mother finally discover the role models that they've been lacking. Readers will immediately fall for Ruby with her humor and her wry way of looking at the world. Their hearts will break as she makes bad decision after bad decision, and they'll cheer as she comes to some important realizations, with the help of the Casserole Queens. Young adults will see themselves in Ruby and, like her, have some laughs along the road to wisdom. A story full of heart, fun, and energy.-Lynn Evarts, Sauk Prairie High School, Prairie du Sac, WI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Tender and poetic, Caletti's tale of the multifaceted effects of the many kinds of love tells the story of Ruby, who, in an effort to break out of her quiet-girl persona, begins dating an exciting but amoral rich boy. To bring Ruby back into the fold, her divorced librarian mother gets her involved in a reading group for the aged. One of the members of the book club, an elderly woman recently debilitated by a stroke, turns out to be the real-life love of an author whose book they are studying. In the least inspired part of the tale, the crowd decides to kidnap the incapacitated lady from her controlling daughters and bring the lovers together. Caletti has the gift of voice and tells her story with humor, insight, and compassion. Listen to Ruby musing on the delicate balance of kindness and truth between mother and daughter. "We cared too much for each other to have between us the recklessness of complete honesty." Lovely. (Fiction. 12+)
From the Publisher
"Readers will immediately fall for Ruby with her humor and her wry way of looking at the world.... A story full of heart, fun, and energy." — School Library Journal, starred review

"Caletti explores the conflicting, complicated impulses of the human heart with polish and penetration." — The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Caletti has the gift of voice and tells her story with humor, insight, and compassion." — Kirkus Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—A quiet 16-year-old girl, a bad boy, a senior citizen book group, and an old-fashioned love story are all wrapped up in this novel (S & S, 2004) by Deb Caletti. Ruby, "The Quiet Girl," feels fearless when she gets involved with motorcycle-riding Travis Becker, a handsome, rich boy who leads her into adventures that are dangerous, exciting, and sometimes illegal. After Ruby makes some bad choices concerning Travis, her librarian mother takes her to the weekly book club she runs for senior citizens, the Casserole Queens. Here, members discover that their current book has one of the club's own members, Lillian, as its subject. The madcap adventure to sneak Lillian out of her nursing home and the resulting road trip to reunite long-separated lovers has some unexpected benefits for Ruby and her mother as they work out unresolved issues in their own relationship. While the story begins somewhat slowly, it picks up speed as Amanda Ronconi perfectly voices all of the club members on their wild trip from Washington State to northern California. Be aware that there is mild swearing throughout the book.—Ann Brownson, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689864742
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • Publication date: 8/30/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Deb Caletti
Deb Caletti’s first novel for teens was The Queen of Everything, was nominated for YALSA's Best Books for Young Adults, and was chosen for PSLA's Top Forty of 2003 and the International Reading Association's Young Adult Choices for 2004. Honey, Baby, Sweetheart, a National Book Award finalist, was Deb's second book for teens. Deb lives with her family part-time on acreage in Issaquah, a Seattle suburb, and part-time in the city on a houseboat. She steals her best lines from her mother, her kids, and the dog, who doesn't seem to mind. You can visit her at www.debcaletti.com.
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Read an Excerpt

Honey, Baby, Sweetheart


By Deb Caletti

Simon & Schuster

Copyright © 2004 Deb Caletti
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-689-86765-4


Chapter One

The first thing I learned about Travis Becker was that he parked his motorcycle on the front lawn. You could see the tracks of it all the way up that rolling hill, cutting deeply into the beautiful, golf course-like grass. That should have told me all I needed to know, right there.

I'm not usually a reckless person. What happened the summer of my junior year was not about recklessness. It was about the way a moment, a single moment, could change things and make you decide to try to be someone different. I'm sure I made that decision the very moment I saw that metal, the glint of it in the sun, looking hot to the touch, looking like an invitation. Charles Whitney - he too made a decision like that, way back on August 14, 1945, just as he ground a cigarette into the street with the toe of his shoe, and so did my mother when she decided that we had to steal Lillian.

Reckless is the last thing you'd call me. Shy is the usual word. I'm one of those people doomed to be known by a single, dominant feature. You know the people I mean - the Fat Girl, the Tall Guy, the Brain. I'm The Quiet Girl. I even heard someone say it a few years ago, as I sat in a bathroom stall. "Do you know Ruby McQueen?" someone said. I think it was Wendy Craig, whose ankles I had just whacked with too much pleasure during floor hockey. And then came the answer: "Oh, is she That Quiet Girl?"

I blame my quiet status on two embarrassing incidents, although my mother will say that I've always just been a watchful person by nature, doing my own anthropological study of the human race, like Jane Goodall and The Chimpanzees of Gombe. She is probably right that personality plays a part. I sometimes feel less hardy and cut out for the world than the people around me, too sensitive, the kind of person whose heart goes out to inanimate objects - the sock without a partner, a field of snow interrupted by footprints, the lone berry on a branch. But it is also true that humiliating experiences can wither your confidence sure as salt on a slug.

I was reasonably outgoing in the fifth grade, before I slipped on some glossy advertising circulars in our garage, broke my tailbone, and had to bring an inflatable doughnut to sit on at school. Before this I would actually raise my hand, stand at the front of a line, not be afraid to be noticed. My stomach seizes up into knots of humiliation just remembering that doughnut. It looks like a toilet seat, Brian Holmes cracked, and the above mentioned Wendy Craig laughed. And he was right; it did - like those puffy ones that you see in tacky, overdecorated bathrooms.

I had begun to put it all behind me, pardon the pun. I'd nearly erased the memory of Mark Cummings and Dede Potter playing Frisbee with the doughnut during lunch, trying instead to remember what my mother told me, that Brian Holmes would no doubt end up prematurely bald and teaching remedial math, and that Mark Cummings was gay, only he didn't know it yet. Then it happened again: humiliating experience, part two. Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the water. This time it was my own fault. I'd placed a pair of minipads in the armpits of my blouse so I wouldn't soak my underarms with nervous sweat during a science speech, and one sailed out as I motioned to my display board. At home, peeling the paper strips and sticking the pads in my shirt had seemed ingenious. Why had no one thought of this before? But as soon as I started to speak, I could feel the right one loosen and slip with every small gesture. I tried to keep my arm clutched tight to my side, soldierlike. Just because an organism is one-celled, doesn't mean it is dull and uninteresting. Finally, I had no choice but to flip the page of my board, and down the minipad shot like a toboggan on an icy slope, landing on the floor in white, feminine-hygiene victory. The crowds roared.

So I became quiet. This seemed the safe thing to do when embarrassments hunted me like a stalker hunts a former lover. Again my mother tried her wisdom on me - Laugh it off, she said. Everyone else is too busy trying to forget their own humiliations to remember yours. You're no different than anyone else. Why do you think that years later we still have dreams that we went to school and forgot to get dressed? And again, this might be true. Still, it seems to me that if I get a pimple it will be in the middle of my forehead like an Indian bindi, and if the answer is spermatozoa, I'm the one that will be called on. I've just found that it's best to lie low.

Quiet People, I can tell you, usually have friends who play the violin way, way too well, and know that continental drift isn't another way you can get your coffee at Starbucks. My friend Karen Jen won the Youth Math Extravaganza (I noticed that the bold letters on the sweatshirt she got spelled Y ME, but I didn't mention this to her), and Sarah Elliott and I became friends in P.E. because the V-sit was the highlight of our gymnastics ability. Last winter, Sarah made a wild pass of her basketball and whacked Ms. Thronson of Girl's State Volleyball Championship fame on the back of the head. One minute there was Ms. Thronson, her shoulders as big as the back of a dump truck, blowing her whistle - Threeep! And the next minute, bam, she was down on her knees as if praying for forgiveness for making us do that unit on wrestling. Sometimes you don't know your own strength.

If you are kind, or were one of my friends in the pre-doughnut days, you've cringed for me over the years, sending supportive thoughts with a glance. But maybe, just maybe, when it is my turn to read aloud in English class (because reading aloud means that Mrs. Forrester can grade papers rather than really teach), you also notice that my voice is clearer and stronger than you thought it would be. When I read Fitzgerald, when I read the part about the light at the end of Gatsby's dock, you see that Mrs. Forrester puts down her red pen and pauses with her coffee cup halfway to her lips, her eyebrows knitted slightly in a look of the softest concentration. That's when you wonder if there might be more to me. More than the glimpse of my coat flying out behind me as I escape out the school doors toward home. At least that's what I hope you think. Maybe you're just thinking about what you're going to have for lunch.

Old Anna Bee, one of the Casserole Queens, told me the same thing once, that there was more to me. She took one finger, knobby from years of gardening, and tapped my temple, looking me long in the eyes when she said it so that I would be sure to take in her meaning. I liked the way it sounded - as if I lead a life of passion and adventure, the stuff of a good book of fiction, just no one knows it. It sounded like I have secret depths.

And I guess for one summer, just one summer, maybe it was true. I did have passion and adventure in my life, the stuff of the books at the Nine Mile Falls Library where my mother works. Summer, after all, is a time when wonderful things can happen to quiet people. For those few months you're not required to be who everyone thinks you are, and that cut-grass smell in the air and the chance to dive into the deep end of a pool give you a courage you don't have the rest of the year. You can be graceful and easy, with no eyes on you, and no past. Summer just opens the door and lets you out.

It was nearly summer, though school wasn't let out yet, when I got that brief glimpse of Travis Becker's motorcycle on the long lawn of the Becker estate. I had walked home by myself that day, instead of with my friend Sydney, as I usually do. Sydney has lived next door to me forever; we both have movies of us when we were babies, sitting in one of those blow-up wading pools, screaming our heads off.

"We're only screaming because of those bathing suits you guys had us in. They look like the kind you see at the community pool on the old ladies recovering from heart surgery. They've got skirts, for God's sake," Sydney said one night as we all watched the movies at her house.

"You were babies. The old ladies, by the way, only require heart surgery after seeing what girls wear to the beach these days," my mother said.

"Personally, I think Sydney started screaming then and just never stopped," her mother, Lizbeth, said, dodging a few popcorn pieces Sydney threw her way.

Lizbeth was probably right. Sydney was one of those people who weren't afraid to express themselves, through words, through clothes, through honking a horn at another car during her Driver's Ed test. She once got grounded for grabbing the family goldfish out of the bowl and threatening to throw it at her brother during an argument. Sydney and her whole family, really, were the kind of people who made you feel that power was possible if you could only get to the point where you didn't care what anyone thought. Sydney was a year older than I was, and my only friend who didn't know more about algorithms than was actually good for the health. She was more like family, though.

"You are a cool and beautiful person," she had said to me after the minipad incident. "Just remember that high school is a big game where the blond, perfect ones sit on the sideline while everyone else crosses a mine field trying not to look stupid. In the real world, this all reverses." She sounded a bit like my mother. "Being blond and perfect prepares you for nothing in life but being married to a brain-damaged former football jock named Chuck and having a license plate holder that says FOXY CHICK." Next year when Sydney went off to college, I would miss her more than I could say.

But that day, fate sent Sydney to the dentist, and I walked home on my own. I got to go the way I liked: the long way. After you get out of school and pass the Front Street Market and the used bookstore and the community theater where they put on plays that usually star Clive Weaver, our postman, you can go home two ways. Sydney's way, the quickest on foot, is down a side street, cutting through Olsen's Llama Farm and the property of Johnson's Nursery. But I like to take the main road, Cummings Road, the same one we take in the mornings when Mom drives my brother and me to school on her way to work. Nine Mile Falls sits in the center of three mountains, and Cummings Road weaves through the valley of the largest one, Mount Solitude.

When you walk, you can look at it all more closely - the winding streets named after trees that lead to snug neighborhoods; the small houses that sit right on the road near town, with their lattice arbors and gardens packed tight with old roses. If you go far enough, you walk past the sprawling lawn of George Washington's house, at least that's our name for it, the huge colonial that is odd and unexpected in our Northwest town, as odd and unexpected as finding a decent car at Ron's Auto, the place you pass next. Ron's Auto is in a dilapidated building with old junkers parked in front and RON'S spelled out in hubcaps on the fence. If you're looking for a car that actually starts, I'd probably look somewhere else.

You get a little of everything on Cummings Road. Mom says it's like a living bookshelf, each piece of property a separate, distinct story. If that's true, then it's a shelf organized by wacky Bernice Rawlins, mom's co-worker. When she puts away the books at the Nine Mile Falls Library, you never know what will end up where. She once put How to Be Lovers for the Rest of Your Lives in the children's section next to Horton Hears A Who.

The best part of Cummings Road, though, is Moon Point, a part of Mount Solitude. Paragliders leap from Moon Point in numbers that are almost mystical - thirty-five at one count, soaring like brilliant butterflies and floating so close to the road before they land that if you ever drive past in a convertible, you worry that a sudden, unexpected passenger might drop in. There is something special about the winds there, how they whip down from Mount Solitude and swirl back up again. I don't know how it works; I only know that people come from all over to paraglide off Moon Point. There's even a school on the grounds, the Seattle Paragliding Club, housed in an old barn. The club's logo, wings carrying a heart aloft, is painted on the side of the barn, huge and colorful.

You get all kinds at Moon Point - the professionals with their gliders all rolled up into neon cocoons and strapped to their backpacks with precision, and the people who don't have a clue what they're doing and get stuck in the trees. Chip Jr., my younger brother, saw one once as we drove past. "There's a paraglider in that tree," he said, his face tilted up toward the window. I didn't believe him - Chip Jr.'s favorite joke, after all, is telling you that he saw the governor in the men's bathroom on his field trip to the state capitol. But sure enough, there was a guy stuck high in a fir, his legs dangling down and his glider tangled hopelessly in the branches.

I love to see those paragliders weaving softly around Moon Point, their legs floating above you in the air. When they drift in for a landing, their feet touch the ground and they trot forward from the continued motion of the glider, which billows down like a setting sun. I never get tired of watching them and I've seen them thousands of times. I always wondered what that kind of freedom would feel like.

That day, I stopped at Moon Point for a while. I walked past the row of cars that were always parked in front of the school - active, mud-splattered cars and trucks. I looked for my favorite one - the van with a whale painted on the side and an I LOVE POTHOLES bumper sticker, and was happy when I saw it there. A car with a sense of humor. I sat on the ground with my chin pointing upward and counted an even twenty paragliders soaring against the wooded backdrop of Mount Solitude. I stayed a long while, sat on the grass, and listened for the flapping sound of tight nylon wings against the wind. I had some things to think about. That morning, even before my alarm clock went off, I could hear my mother running the vacuum. It was a bad sign, a sure start to at least three days of hurricane cleaning, endless whiffs of lemon Pledge, odd colored liquids in the toilet bowls, the seeek, seeek sound of paper towels wiping down ammonia-squirted mirrors. This cleaning - it meant that my father was coming. It meant that my mother would once again lose her heart to a man who was no longer even her husband, but whose ring she still wore on a chain around her neck. And it meant that my brother and I would be walking around the broken pieces of that heart for days after he left.

I watched the paragliders until the sun snuck behind Mount Solitude. The shadow it cast quickly stole all of the summer heat, and so I decided to head home.

Continues...


Excerpted from Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti Copyright © 2004 by Deb Caletti. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Introduction

A Simon Pulse Guide for Reading Groups

Honey, Baby, Sweetheart

By Deb Caletti

About The Book

Ruby McQueen has never had trouble being good-getting along with her family, doing well in school, and making good decisions. Which is why nobody is more surprised than she when bad boy Travis Becker sucks her into his world of privilege and lawlessness and she follows so willingly. But when Ruby does the unthinkable, she sets in motion a madcap multigenerational adventure, as those close to her do everything they can to save her from herself. Can one summer change what Ruby knows about true love, family, fate, and her own heart?

Discussion Questions

  • Ruby's involvement with Travis Becker is out of character for her, but she says, "It was about the way a moment, a single moment, could change things and make you decide to try to be someone different." What does Ruby feel is her pivotal moment? Do you agree? Who else in the story has moments like the one Ruby describes?
  • Travis believes that Ruby is fearless, and so she becomes that way around him. How much of our personalities is defined by how others see us? Does Ruby succeed in becoming truly fearless? On what do you think Travis is basing his vision of Ruby?
  • In what ways are Ruby and her mother similar when it comes to romantic relationships? In what ways are they different? What do they learn about romance over the course of the summer?
  • Discuss Ruby's relationship with Chip Jr. What role does Chip Jr. play in her life? What role does he play within the family as a whole?
  • How is Joe Davis different from Ruby's father? What does he bringto the McQueen family? How do his struggles with the church sign reflect his beliefs about spirituality?
  • How do the members of the Casserole Queens feel about Ruby? About each other? Why does Ruby enjoy her time with them so much?
  • Why is it so important to the Casserole Queens that Charles and Lillian be reunited? What does each member of the group contribute to the plan? What does each member gain from the reunion?
  • Ruby says that, had they known Lillian had so little time left, they would have hurried their trip along. Do you think this is true? What did they gain by taking their time on the way to meet Charles? Do you think that Lillian would have wanted them to hurry?
  • Why is Ruby so fascinated by the paragliders? What do they represent to her? Does anything else in her life make her feel this way?
  • Ruby says, "I guess for one summer, just one summer...I did have passion and adventure in my life." To which events do you think she is referring? Do you think that there was any adventure in her life before this summer? Do you think she will continue to have passion and adventure in her life?

Activities

  • Start your own book group, like the Casserole Queens. Invite all your friends, decide how often you would like to meet, and have someone bring snacks.
  • The story behind Lillian and Charles's relationship inspired the Casserole Queens to strike out on their adventure. What stories are hidden in your family tree? Interview your parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles about their lives. Write down this oral history and share it with other family members.
  • Look into volunteering at a nursing home or retirement community in your neighborhood.
  • Is there something in your life that you've been want- ing to learn-like Ruby and paragliding-that you could take up now? See if there's anywhere in your town you could take lessons.

This reading group guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing • www.SimonSaysTeach.com

Deb Caletti's first novel for teens was The Queen of Everything, about which Kirkus Reviews raved "Caletti expertly succeeds in capturing the way a smart teen can grasp and skewer her world" and Publishers Weekly announced "[This] marks Caletti as a writer to watch." In addition, it made the cover of the esteemed review journal the Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books, was nominated for YALSA's Best Books for Young Adults, and was chosen for PSLA's Top Forty of 2003 and the International Reading Association's Young Adult Choices for 2004.

Honey, Baby, Sweetheart, a National Book Award finalist, was Deb's second book for teens. It received a starred review in School Library Journal, which called it "A story full of heart, fun, and energy." Kirkus Reviews described the novel as "tender and poetic" and the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books pronounced it "stylish and perceptive."

Deb lives with her family part-time on acreage in Issaquah, a Seattle suburb, and part-time in the city on a houseboat. She steals her best lines from her mother, her kids, and the dog, who doesn't seem to mind. When she is not writing books or reading them, Deb is a painter, a lyricist, and a lecturer. She is currently at work on her next book for teens. You can visit her at www.debcaletti.com.

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Reading Group Guide

A Simon Pulse Guide for Reading Groups

Honey, Baby, Sweetheart

By Deb Caletti

About The Book

Ruby McQueen has never had trouble being good-getting along with her family, doing well in school, and making good decisions. Which is why nobody is more surprised than she when bad boy Travis Becker sucks her into his world of privilege and lawlessness and she follows so willingly. But when Ruby does the unthinkable, she sets in motion a madcap multigenerational adventure, as those close to her do everything they can to save her from herself. Can one summer change what Ruby knows about true love, family, fate, and her own heart?

Discussion Questions

  • Ruby's involvement with Travis Becker is out of character for her, but she says, "It was about the way a moment, a single moment, could change things and make you decide to try to be someone different." What does Ruby feel is her pivotal moment? Do you agree? Who else in the story has moments like the one Ruby describes?
  • Travis believes that Ruby is fearless, and so she becomes that way around him. How much of our personalities is defined by how others see us? Does Ruby succeed in becoming truly fearless? On what do you think Travis is basing his vision of Ruby?
  • In what ways are Ruby and her mother similar when it comes to romantic relationships? In what ways are they different? What do they learn about romance over the course of the summer?
  • Discuss Ruby's relationship with Chip Jr. What role does Chip Jr. play in her life? What role does he play within the family as a whole?
  • How is Joe Davis different from Ruby's father? What does he bring to the McQueen family? How do his struggles with the church sign reflect his beliefs about spirituality?
  • How do the members of the Casserole Queens feel about Ruby? About each other? Why does Ruby enjoy her time with them so much?
  • Why is it so important to the Casserole Queens that Charles and Lillian be reunited? What does each member of the group contribute to the plan? What does each member gain from the reunion?
  • Ruby says that, had they known Lillian had so little time left, they would have hurried their trip along. Do you think this is true? What did they gain by taking their time on the way to meet Charles? Do you think that Lillian would have wanted them to hurry?
  • Why is Ruby so fascinated by the paragliders? What do they represent to her? Does anything else in her life make her feel this way?
  • Ruby says, "I guess for one summer, just one summer...I did have passion and adventure in my life." To which events do you think she is referring? Do you think that there was any adventure in her life before this summer? Do you think she will continue to have passion and adventure in her life?

Activities

  • Start your own book group, like the Casserole Queens. Invite all your friends, decide how often you would like to meet, and have someone bring snacks.
  • The story behind Lillian and Charles's relationship inspired the Casserole Queens to strike out on their adventure. What stories are hidden in your family tree? Interview your parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles about their lives. Write down this oral history and share it with other family members.
  • Look into volunteering at a nursing home or retirement community in your neighborhood.
  • Is there something in your life that you've been want- ing to learn-like Ruby and paragliding-that you could take up now? See if there's anywhere in your town you could take lessons.

This reading group guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing • www.SimonSaysTeach.com

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 70 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(31)

4 Star

(16)

3 Star

(14)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 70 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2008

    Honey, Baby, Sweetheart

    I read Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti. I found the novel because a friend of mine read the novel and said that it was a good story. There are many things I liked about the book. Some things I liked were that it is a book that is easy to relate to, easy to understand, easy to read, and has humor through out the entire novel. There are also things I did not like about it. A couple of things I do not like are the beginning of the novel, and how there is a lot of unneeded facts through out. <BR/><BR/>I liked more things about Honey, Baby Sweetheart than I did not. The story being about a teenage girl who is struggling with her emotions makes it really easy to relate to. The fact that the book is based in present time also makes it easy to relate to. Even though the first chapter of the book is hard to get into because it is a slow start, the plot of the rest of the novel is very enticing. Also, The humor in the story makes it more interesting. The humor pulls you back in as a reader when you start to get bored. The embarrassing stories Ruby tells in the first chapter were the funniest to me. A lot of teenage girls in today's society, past, and present, have problems with their relationships with boys, parents, and siblings, just like Ruby McQueen does in Honey, Baby Sweetheart. Many people can relate to her nearly non-existent father-daughter relationship or her emotional mother-daughter relationship.<BR/><BR/>Deb Caletti's novel Honey, Baby, Sweetheart is a wonderful book full of drama and love. The drama, humor, and being able to relate to the story makes it a really good book. I would most certainly recommend others to read Calleti's novel. Deb Caletti did a wonderful job writing Honey, Baby, Sweetheart.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2008

    Funny yet poigant

    Honey, Baby, Sweetheart was a great read. It is filled with romance, yet not in the typical fashion. The message is that one must know herself, and not just be someone's 'honey, baby, sweetheart'. I felt myself directly relating to what Ruby was experiencing. The scenes with the Casserole Queens were laugh out loud funny. Albeit this book requires a modicum of suspension of belief, but I still highly recommend it!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2008

    Honey, Baby, Sweetheart

    I just finished reading Honey, Baby, Sweetheart. I loved this book! I felt like I was Ruby McQueen and that I was there going through the experiences. The first chapter was a little boring, but if you don't read it then you wouldn't be able to understand the rest of the story. Ruby McQueen is an average teenager that goes through experiences with Travis Becker (a boy she met and likes that is reckless), the Casserole Queens (a book club that Ruby's mom runs for the older people), and with her parents (who are divorced). One of the Casserole Queens is an elderly woman named Lillian who was in love with Charles Whitney, who is now a famous author. Chalres Whitney wrote a book about her and about half way through the book you see that the rest of the book club figures it out, so they decided to take her to see Charles Whitney so that they could finally be together after such a long time. I would deffinitely reccommend this book to anyone. Except for the fact that there is a good amount of swearing in it. But besides that you should read this book and go with Ruby through all of her experiences.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Hmmm

    Honestly, this book was a bit odd. I thought it had such good potential, but it just didn't meet that. I don't really understand why it got really high rating because it's just not that good. I wouldn't recommend reading this book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2005

    wOw

    wow this book was great i loved it!! It gives you a sense of how crazy love makes you act and how it keeps you coming back for more even though you shouldn't. It makes you want to bond with your mother, and have an elderly crew juss like the Casserole Queens!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2004

    Car crashing effect

    Wow. This was a good book. You can never go wrong with a car filled with old people and a girl with a broken heart. If you like guys that are trouble, schemeing old folk, and laught-out loud funny, then you'll love this!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2013

    This is a GREAT book.

    Im in 8th grade i read it in 6th grade amd i loved it

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2013

    I usually don't post reviews online but I wanted to save everyon

    I usually don't post reviews online but I wanted to save everyone the misfortune of wasting money on this book. The text went way too far into detail about unnecessary things and I got to the point where I just had to put it down because I felt like I was watching a train wreck. You know what I'm talking about. Like when you just want to yell and scream for it to stop but it won't . I have no sympathy for the main character. She has no respect for herself and the leading guy has no redeeming qualities except for his wealth and good looks. He's  a stereotypical troubled rich boy who creates his own drama. Not to mention he has no real depth as a person. The main character has no strengths and I literally had to stop reading this book shortly before half way through in order to keep my sanity. 

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  • Posted July 23, 2012

    Pretty good. The first half was a little slow but the second ha

    Pretty good. The first half was a little slow but the second half was good. Very poetic and had a good ending.

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  • Posted April 20, 2011

    OMG!!!!!

    I want to read this book so bad. Someone please let me borrow it!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2011

    Honey, Baby, Sweetheart

    Ruby McQueen was just a normal sixteen-year-old girl until she met Travis Becker, a reckless, rich boy who begins to change her. When Ruby's librarian mother, Anne, begins to notice her new risky behaviors she decides to drag Ruby along with her to a book club at an old folks home every week called The Casserole Queens. When Ruby and Anne learn that one of their members is the long lost love of the author whose book they are reading Ruby and her mother set out on a road trip to reunite the two lovers. Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti is a fantastic novel about the trials and adventures in love, and the bounds of a mother and daughter. The beginning is a little slow but once you get past the first few chapters the author keeps you wanting more and more, I myself could barely put the book down to even go outside and breath.
    Deb Caletti writes in such a way that you feel like you are Ruby McQueen, feeling her heartbreaks and joys and laughing along with The Casserole Queens (who by the way are hilarious and I love). As the reader she allows you to live every part of Ruby's journey right along side her. This would be a great book for you to read if you like romantic comedies filled with tragedy as well as joy I guarantee there will be at least one point where you won't be able to set this book down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2011

    It Stuck With Me

    Honey Baby Sweetheart is a great book; at first it seems to drag out but really captures your attention later in the book. It's easy to relate to if you ever met a boy that made you feel "fearless" or had made a good girl go bad.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2010

    honey baby sweetheart by angel mcintyre

    Review of novel Honey, Baby, Sweetheart After reading Honey, Baby, Sweetheart I realized there were several points that stood out to me. Throughout the book Ruby and her mom are constantly being taught lessons. They both go through the same love spasm. Finally they are taught the same lesson. Later they go on a trip, which I think brings them closer together. In the end they realize that they both haven't been that supportive for each other and solve there differences. Honey, Baby, Sweetheart is an intruding book that will catch your eye. It caught mine. It's a fun read and romance novel that is made specifily for young adults. So go ahead and pick it up.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2010

    Sucked!

    This book wasnt my favorite book. I thought it was really slow most of the book i just keep flippin the pages. It wasnt really good the first 200 pages.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 8, 2010

    A great read...

    I loved this book! At first, it seemed a bit slow but it exploded almost suddenly into something so much more. The adventures of the Casserole Queens makes you wish you could be apart of the story. The true love story in this book is a sad and sweet one. It also is a great book on finding yourself. A must read, for sure!

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  • Posted November 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Love the characters

    The characters in this make the book, for me. I love them all. Ruby is and her friends are cool, but my fave. are the book clubers! Harold, Peach, Mrs. Wong, and all the others had me cracking up through out the book. Loved it! Deb Caletti is an amazing author, and I love everyone of her books! Can't wait untill a new book of her's comes out!

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  • Posted October 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Loving Fun Filled Story

    What makes danger attractive to people? Is it the sudden thrill and excitement that rushes throughout your body, or is it the mad rush of adrenaline? In Deb Caletti's, Honey, Baby, Sweetheart , Ruby McQueen finds herself doing dangerous things and enjoys the thought of being different. Proving herself to the world that the quiet and shy girl can be rebellious and free.
    Honey, Baby, Sweetheart is a fun filled book about a girl that falls in love with a boy or more so his motorcycle. She couldn't resist the way the metal bike gleamed in the sunlight, or the way Travis Becker's eyes sparkled when he looked at her. The first ride on the back of his motorcycle would be the start of many mistakes to come.
    Ruby finds herself making many mistakes like lying to her mother multiple times and sneaking out of the house. Something that many people can relate to is the urge to be with the one you love, know matter how dangerous it might be.
    Deb Caletti shows us what it feels like to have a strong feeling of love for someone you can never have. She mixes humor in with sad events, and uses lots of detail hitting every sense. You can easily picture what the many characters look like and the expressions on their faces. I enjoyed the humorous remarks made by the members of the book club Ruby attended , and the way they always found something to argue about.
    In the end Ruby finds herself and realizes she doesn't need a boy to make her feel whole. She becomes closer with her family, and created memories she would never forget.
    Over all the story of Ruby McQueen is a great one. She teaches us that its ok to make mistakes just know that there will always be consequences. And Stay close to the ones around you, because you are loved by more people then you realize.

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  • Posted October 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    ...

    interesting take on a good girl going out with a bad boy. truthful and realistic. i liked it. for fans of sarah dessen and maybe sara zarr.

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  • Posted September 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Megan Early, a Junior at Hewitt- Trussville High School in Alabama

    Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti is the story of Ruby McQueen and how she falls head over heels in love with Travis Becker. Ruby is not very well known at her school and is what you would consider "the quiet girl". Ruby accidentally meets and eventually falls in love with Travis Becker who is the rich, bad boy who makes every girl's heart melt with his charm and exceptionally good looks. The book takes an exciting look at young love and how it makes you do all sorts of crazy things. In the novel, Ruby and her mother take a road trip that brings them closer together and along the way they compare love experiences and really become closer from being able to relate on a new level. Ruby has the biggest struggle with her mother throughout the novel because her mother disapproves of Travis and Ruby being together. The novel ends with an unexpected twist that will shock you!
    Overall I really enjoyed Honey, Baby, Sweetheart. I thought it was very well written and incredibly relatable. Ruby reminded me a lot of Chloe from the book Mediterranean Holiday by Kate Cann. Ruby also reminded me of myself in various ways, like her lack of self-confidence when it comes to dating. Ruby is always worrying about what Travis will think of her and her actions and that's exactly how I am in relationships. Ruby's mother reminded me of my mother so much! My mother is very understanding but she too sets down rules and expectations like Ruby's mother does. The end of the book really surprised me. You will definitely not see Ruby's choice coming! I would recommend this book to teen girls who enjoy reading a realistic, compelling book that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Although the book starts off slow and hard to get into, it dramatically picks up and you will not be able to put it down from there.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2009

    Classic

    Basically, it's a classic. Rereading it reminds me how good it is. Don't miss it. Beautful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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