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One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies

One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies

4.5 192
by Sonya Sones

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Following her mother’s death, Ruby is reluctantly reunited with her estranged movie star father in this stunning free verse novel featuring a new cover and larger trim size.

When Ruby’s mother dies, she’s dragged three thousand miles away from her gorgeous boyfriend, Ray, to live in LA with her father, who she’s only ever seen in


Following her mother’s death, Ruby is reluctantly reunited with her estranged movie star father in this stunning free verse novel featuring a new cover and larger trim size.

When Ruby’s mother dies, she’s dragged three thousand miles away from her gorgeous boyfriend, Ray, to live in LA with her father, who she’s only ever seen in movies. He’s a mega-famous actor who divorced her mom before Ruby was even born, and while the rest of the world may love him, Ruby definitely does not.

But as time passes and pages turn, Ruby comes to understand that circumstances are far more complicated than they seem, and sometimes forgiveness is found where you least expect it. This award-winning and bestselling novel in verse weaves a gripping narrative that is accessible as it is compelling.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
PW called this story of a 15-year-old who must move from Boston to L.A. after her mother's untimely death a "winning portrayal of a teenage girl's loves and losses." Ages 12-up. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
It is true that the mother dies, but this hilarious and painfully real novel in verse and letters is anything but hideous. Ruby Milliken knows everything that she needs to know about her father, Whip Logan, whom she has not seen since she was a baby. He is a world-class actor, and more important, a world-class jerk who left her and her mother and never wrote once. When her mother dies, however, Ruby is sent from her home in Massachusetts to Los Angeles to live with him. She resolves not to like him, a decision that is steadily worn down by a mutual love of classic cars and some first-rate mediation by Max, Whip's personal assistant. As the school year progresses, Ruby finds a home in Los Angeles and makes some important discoveries about Whip's absence from her life. Whip Logan might be in the movies, but Sones's sparse, carefully chosen prose is the star here, conveying Ruby's conflicts of home, friendship, and family in a sympathetic, thoroughly believable manner. Ruby's grieving for her mother is heartbreaking, but also humorous and never overwrought. Without being preachy, Sones addresses stereotyping, variations of friendship, betrayal by loved ones, and parent-child relationships. Readers will cry as easily as they laugh at Ruby's frank observations of life in, as she calls it, Hellywood, even if they do not have teachers named Feather who make them keep a dream journal. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2004, Simon & Schuster, 272p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Carlisle K. Webber
Ruby Milliken shines as a saga unfolds from the mind of a teenager in this fast-paced novel of vibrant emotions and high drama. Ruby is a fifteen-year-old who has just lost her mother, home, and reason for living. She moves across the country to live with her movie star father leaving behind her boyfriend, Ray, and best friend, Lizzie. A look into the mind of Ruby is like boarding a jolting roller coaster as she thrives on impulsive decisions and peaks of emotion. At one moment, she will be fired up about how she thinks this "loose" girl named Amber is trying to steal Ray; another moment she'll be writing an e-mail to her dead mother. Sones writes with a poetic, plot-driven style magically connecting each new character to the next event. Having experienced the culture shock of Hollywood herself, Sones equates some of her experience through Ruby, causing the first-person narrative to come alive in a natural way. Young readers will be drawn to the journalistic feel, poetic set-up, and page-long chapters. 2004, Simon and Schuster Books, 268 pp., Ages young adult.
—Mary McCoy
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, May 2004: Sones is a gifted writer of novels in poetry. (Her novel What My Mother Doesn't Know was selected as an ALA Best Book for YAs, and this one is an ALA Best Book as well.) Told in a series of brief poems interspersed with e-mails and letters, this could have been just another story about celebrity—the narrator's father is a famous movie star. It evolves into much more than that! Ruby is the narrator. Her parents were divorced before she was born and she never knew her father. Now her mother has died of cancer and the story begins as Ruby is flying to California from the East Coast to live with this father she despises because she thinks he deserted her and her mother. She is leaving behind a best friend and a boyfriend, and the loss of her mother and these close friends is enormous; yet, she is unable to cry, numbed by the trauma of her mother's death. The story moves on to details of the luxury of her father's home and way of life, Ruby's private school, filled with children of celebrities, and Ruby's continuing rage, grief, and isolation. But, then things change, and finally Ruby is able to weep. The person who can comfort her is her father. When Ruby finally is willing to listen to him, she discovers he is quite different from the person she imagined him to be. YAs will love this book—for the emotional storms, for the details of life among the rich and famous, and for the basic character of Ruby—smart, responsible, resilient. KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2004, Simon & Schuster, Pulse, 268p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Claire Rosser
School Library Journal
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 Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In a story worthy of Hollywood, 15-year-old Ruby moves to LA to join her estranged father, the movie star Whip Logan, when her mother dies. The grieving Ruby, given the fulfillment of many a teen's fantasies, is nothing but sullen at being wrenched away from her Boston home and friends and plunked into the middle of the celebrity district of Beverly Hills with a father she's never known. Short, stream-of-consciousness free-verse poems make up most of the narrative, by turns bathing readers in Ruby's emotions and treating them to very sharp, very funny observations about LA. It's a hugely artificial form, but its free acknowledgment thereof ("my life better not turn out to be like one of those hideous books where the mother dies and so the girl has to go live with her absentee father . . . ") allows the text, and Ruby, to explore the possibilities behind the fantasy. Ruby's eventual adjustment and her rapprochement with her father (cue the violins) will come as no surprise to readers but, hey-this is Hollywood after all, and sometimes a happy ending is exactly what we need. (Fiction. 12+)
From the Publisher
Entertainment Weekly Winning.

Booklist, starred review Fast, funny, touching.

Publishers Weekly, starred review Honest...destined to captivate.

Kirkus Reviews, starred review Romantic and sexy.

Children's Literature - Jeanna Sciarrotta
Ruby is not that depressed for a girl whose mother has just passed away and whose father is a famous actor who she has only glimpsed in movies that her aunt snuck her in to see. She is not that depressed when suddenly she is on an airplane being whisked away from her boyfriend, best friend and everything she knows, in order to be united with this famous father that she knows only from the silver screen. She tries to throw away the "woe is me attitude" and remain positive when her world is falling apart, but she cannot quite grasp this new life she is living with the man who immediately seems to play the role of the caring father and she cannot quite figure out why all of the sudden he is so interested in her life when until now he did not even seem to care that she was even alive. Similar to her other stylistic verse novels that teen girls seem to be drawn to, Sones unveils the thoughts and actions of her main character through a series of blank verse poems, emails, and letters. Like her other novels, the story is predictable and the characters are relatively unoriginal, however, it is a satisfying and fast paced novel for the reluctant female reader. Reviewer: Jeanna Sciarrotta

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 4.86(h) x 0.73(d)
820L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

American Airlines Flight 161

I'm not that depressed,

considering that this

gigantic silver bullet with wings

is blasting me away from my whole entire life,

away from Lizzie Brody,

my best friend in the world,

away from Ray Johnston,

my first real boyfriend.

Not that depressed,

considering I've been kidnapped

by this monstrous steel pterodactyl

and it's flying me all the way to L.A.

to live with my father

who I've never even met

because he's such a scumbag

that he divorced my mother

before I was even born.

I'd say I'm doing reasonably well,

considering I'm being dragged

three thousand miles away from all my friends

and my school and my aunt Duffy

and the house I've lived in ever since I was born,

three thousand miles away from my mother,

and my mother's grave,

where she lies in a cold wooden box

under six feet of dirt,

just beginning to rot.

I'm not that depressed

considering that I'm trapped

on this jumbo poison dart

shooting me away from everything I love,

and there's this real weird guy

sitting in the seat right behind mine,

who keeps picking his nose

and eating it.


Who? Me?

Aunt Duffy Drove Me to the Airport

And there was a second there

when I actually considered

getting down on my hands and knees

and begging her not to put me on this plane,

begging her not to send me away,

pleading with her to let me stay in Boston

and live with her instead.

But Duffy's so nice that I knew she'd say yes

and I knew that that would make me feel

like crawling under a boulder,

because her apartment just has

this one microscopic bedroom

and now that she's finally

got herself a new boyfriend,

the last thing she needs

is to have her fifteen-year-old niece

permanently camped out in her living room,

which is barely even big enough

to fit her couch.

So I contained my urge to grovel.

My Mother Hated Flying

Especially after September 11th.

She used to squeeze my hand so hard

during takeoffs and landings

that she'd cut off my circulation.

She'd screw her eyes closed and whisper this silly prayer someone taught her once. Something about manifold divine blessings being unto the plane or the universe or some hippie-dippy thing like that.

And if there was even

a teensy bit of turbulence — forget it.

She'd start apologizing to me

for every mean thing she'd ever said

or done or even thought about doing.

This morning,

when the plane was lurching down the runway

and I didn't have Mom's hand to hold,

my heart flung itself up into my throat.

And for a minute there,

I couldn't even breathe.

I didn't know how much

I depended on

being depended on

by her.

Peach Fuzz

When the flight attendant

leans in to ask me

if I'd like something to drink,

and the sun splashes across her face,

I notice

all these tiny little

blond hairs on her cheeks,

and tears rush into my eyes.

My mother had them, too.

I used to tease her about them.

Called it her peach fuzz.

It used to make her laugh.

If I could reach out

and stroke those little hairs

on the flight attendant's face,

without totally freaking her out,

I'd close my eyes

and I'd do it right now.

I'd touch my mother's cheek

one more time.

Maybe You're Wondering About It

But that's just tough.

Because I'm not even going to go in

to how she died.

Let's just say she knew that she was sick,

that she felt it burrowing,

felt it gnawing at her insides.

But the doctors wouldn't listen.

And when they finally found it,

there was nothing they could do.

Nothing she could do.

Nothing I could do.


Let's just say

she wasted away into a toothpick,

and leave it at that, okay?

That after a while

she was just a shadow

lying there on her bed.


And I guess we can say

that I was holding her hand

when it finally happened.

I Love to Read

But my life better not turn out

to be like one of those hideous books

where the mother dies

and so the girl has to

go live with her absentee father

and he turns out to be

an alcoholic heroin addict

who brutally beats her

and sexually molests her

thereby causing her to become

a bulimic ax murderer.

I love to read,

but I can't stand books like that.

And I flat out refuse

to have one of those lives

that I wouldn't even want

to read about.

And Speaking of Fathers

As soon as I was old enough

to notice that I didn't have one,

I started asking questions.

Like, "Where's my daddy?"

And, "How come Lizzie has a daddy,

but I don't?"

Mom's face would sort of slam shut

and all she'd say was,

"He divorced me before you were born."

If it wasn't for my aunt Duffy

I'd never have even found out

who my father was.

Copyrights & © 2004 by Sonya Sones

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"A satisfying, moving novel."

Booklist, starred review

"A winning portrayal of a teenage girl's loves and losses."

Publishers Weekly

"Ruby's voice is pitch-perfect."


Meet the Author

Sonya Sones has written five YA novels-in-verse: To Be Perfectly Honest (A Novel Based on an Untrue Story), Stop Pretending, One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies, What My Mother Doesn’t Know, and its companion, What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know. Her books have received many honors, including a Christopher Award, the Myra Cohn Livingston Poetry Award, and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize nomination. But the coolest honor she ever got was when What My Mother Doesn’t Know made it onto the American Library Association’s list of the Top 100 Most Banned Books of the Decade (to see why, see p.46). She lives near the beach in southern California, and only tells the occasional fib. Visit her at SonyaSones.com or follow @SonyaSones on Twitter.

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One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 192 reviews.
Corbella More than 1 year ago
I absolutly fell in love with this book! It was so hilarious to me! But yet it was serious. Weird, but a good mix. I told one of my friend to read it, but she didn't like the way in was writen in a long paragraph instead of a chapter (I really didn't like that either, but I got over it), so I started to read it to her, and she fell in love with it!! This book is about Ruby, who has to go live with her movie star dad, Whip Logan, since her mother died and her Aunt is going away with her new boyfriend. Now to me that would be heaven!! Living next to movie stars, going to a cool school (where teachers actually let you call them by their first names!), and having lots of money to buy anything you want!But to Ruby it's torture! She has to move away from her best friend, and her more than awesome boyfriend,Ray! Once Ruby gets to "Less Angeles" she is forever hating Whip. But Whip is bound to get her to like him. But little does Ruby know Whip has some secrets. What are they? Like I'm going to tell you!! Read it for yourself!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing I read it about 5 times and it never got boring. I don't care about haters so if you don't like it don't bother with it. :)
luckeyBARE More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutely amazing, its very great. Its very emotional, funny, and thrilling. Its truly unforgettable, I enjoyed reading this book, Its just so FANTASTIC. I recommend this book for ages 13 and up. This is probably the best book i've read in years!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was amazing! Not writing in paragraphs annoyed me at first, but I got over it quickly! The characters weren't developed the best, it might leave you wanting to know more about Ruby's personality, and past like it did with me! I didn't feel the love for Max like Ruby did, but I didn't despise him. I liked how the author got you to dislike characters quickly! *cough* Ray *cough* Lizzie *cough* But in the end I did like Lizzie. I wish there was more of Colette though. She seemed like an iffy character, like you wanted to have a trio of best friends, and Colette was there just to be another number. The plot was fresh, interesting, and cute! I haven't read anything like it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book a couple days fter my mothers deaf. I thought this was a stupid cliche book.... telling you ways how to cope and didnt really understand. But this book is amazing.. its like someone took MY feelings and thoughts and put it into a book... BUT this book is also funny and the way it is written really gets your attention. Loved it :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a good book couldn't put it down, the twist in the book was litteraly the best! I read it when I was 13 and I read it in maybe two days! Its so good.
SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
The first half was good, a little slow but it was good. Then it got a little better in the second half. And liked book title references, some I either read or heard. However with the ending, I kind of liked, since like with the What My Doesn't know books endings, the ending for this one I kind of like but felt ended abruptly. But still liked it at the same time. If that make, again makes sense. Do I recommend these verse books, I guess? Actually, sure, why not.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite books ever
miztrebor More than 1 year ago
This was another great verse novel from Sonya Sones. This is the fourth of Sones' books I've read, and I can say I haven't been disappointed yet. I was a bit surprised with where the story went on this one. I was thinking it was going to be more of a romance focus, but instead there was more of a focus on Ruby healing after her mother's death and other major life changes. It was this and some other minor themes that really made the story stick for me. The characters and their actions were very realistic, especially Sones' younger characters. This author is a great at writing a teenager's point of view and voice effectively. I always enjoy the way Sones can work a well-developed plot, characters, and conflict into her verse. The limited word count allows for each line to be to the point and, at times, more thought-provoking than a normal prose novel could. If this were written in prose I don't think it'd have held as much enjoyment, for me. Though, I have a feeling if this author were to write prose novels, I'd be just as eager to read them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Does it matter how many pages? If you want it get if you dont then dont get it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this twists in the story and the shocking events. I also reconmend what my mother doesnt know i love that book too.sonya sones is one of the best authors ( in my opinon)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very interesting. In the beginning i thought it would be boring but when i got further along, i started to love it. It is a very interesting story and you have to read it all the way through.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Here is a shocker for you... He got a divorce from her cause he was gay and relized it too late... and she asked him not to help with child support...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book, “One of Those Hideous Book Where the Mother Dies” by: Sonya Sones is a book about heartbreak, loss, lifelong changes and love. Ruby, the main character had to go through her mothers death and leaves everything behind including her boyfriend, her best friend and her home to go live with her famous dad, who she has never met before. When I first read that her dad was famous I thought about how cool it would be to have a dad like hers but knowing that Rudy has to start over completely plus adding on the stress and confusion of being famous was a mind changer. She has to adjust to his rich and famous lifestyle by going to a new school and meeting kids with famous parents just like her, she tries to make new friends, and she has to adjust do the fans that lover her dad. Ruby has a hard time loving her dad just like everyone else, but throughout the book he tries to be the best father he possibly can to her. This book shows how the good things in life can help you overcome the bad things.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Omg!!! This book is one of the best book i'v read.. i loved this book soo much... i am not big reader at all i really dont like reading but i wanted to read this book all the time..... you should read it you would love it...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Did ur mom die?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I Love this book!!!! Great read ;-)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book, its one of the only books ive read!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ot reminds me of ny own life ..... LITTERALY every thing tjhar happened to rube happened to me!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was not entirely suprising it was pretty predivtable it was a good book but not great it lacks a certain umph