Children's Literature - Janice DeLong
This novel-in-verse is a "selfie" of the highest order. It is more poignant and humorous for being told in the voice of Robin Murphy, an outsider and object of ridicule par excellence. No one sits with Robin at lunch and when anyone else does something really dumb, his peers will call the gaffe a "Murphy." Enter, Sophieattractive, creative, and surrounded by her crowd. What do these two have in common? The beautiful part of this novel is that during the summer of their fourteenth year, Sophie and Robin discover each other at an art museum by accident, and soon they realize how much they like each other. Sharing a sense of humor, intellectual level, and interest in art, they fall in love. This is beautiful, especially Sophie's loyalty in the face of brutal rejection when school begins in the fall. There is a great deal that the young audience can and will learn from this story about courage in the face of bullying and strength under fire. However, there is a less appealing side of the book, particularly much sexual foreplay and nudity. For the innocent early teen, this is heady stuff, and for the young reader who is sexually active, the author seems to give tacit approval to precisely the type of intimacy that may lead to promiscuity and heartbreak. What Sones "doesn't know" seems to be the adult writer's responsibility to her readership. Reviewer: Janice DeLong
Returning with a sequel to the well- received What My Mother Doesn't Know, Sones delivers another engaging story about young love, this time from the boy's perspective. This free-verse novel opens with 14-year-old Robin worrying that he will soon be dumped by his girlfriend, Sophie (star of the previous book), who is being ostracized at school for dating "the guy whose last name people use as a diss." ("Let's face it./ I'm the type of guy/ who doesn't even have any buddies/ on my buddy list," Robin says.) But Sophie is her own person and together they form a plan to rise above the derision by laughing at themselves. Robin is believable and endearing as he struggles to make sense of his devotion to his "amazing girlfriend," his nascent sexuality and his attraction to Tessa, a girl in his art class at Harvard who is refreshingly unaware that he is the butt of jokes at his high school. When Sophie catches him kissing Tessa, Robin has to do something dramatic to win her back. Concrete poems and comics punctuate the text, adding interest to the form. The author's fans will be delighted to have a new installment written with the same raw honesty and authentic voice as the original. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 12-up. (June)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
VOYA - Kimberly Paone
This book picks up almost immediately where What My Mother Doesn't Know (Simon & Schuster, 2001/VOYA October 2001) left off. Popular Sophie and outcast Robin-better known by his last name, Murphy, which has become synonymous with "loser"-have just spent an amazing winter break together falling in love. Now it is back to reality-school. Robin is nervous that Sophie will ignore him, even expects her to do so, but when Sophie joins him for lunch, Robin's happiness is only dampened by the fact that her association with him has now made Sophie a pariah as well. Even Sophie's two best friends have abandoned her, so it becomes Sophie and Robin against the world. Unfortunately their classmates are not the only problem that they face. As Robin starts taking a college-level art class and Sophie's friend Rachel sees the error of her ways, the couple spends time apart and it could be the downfall of their relationship. Sones's wonderful free verse comes from Robin's point of view this time, but it is just as authentic and heart wrenching as Sophie's voice in the first book. Teens will devour this book and again will be left wishing for more at the end. Both Sophie and Robin are unforgettable characters, and their trials and triumphs are completely recognizable and easy to relate to by teens their age. It is not necessary to have read the first book to understand the second, so buy multiple copies-it will fly off the shelves.
KLIATT - Claire Rosser
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, May 2007: This is a sequel to What My Mother Doesn't Know, telling the story of Sophie and Robin's romance from Robin's point of view. Since he has always been a social outcast, he is used to it; but it kills him to see Sophie become an outcast once she reveals to their high school world that the two are a couple. Sones writes Robin's story using poetry throughout, in the poetry-novel format. Sophie is swept away by her romance with Robin, sharing their love of art and their intelligence, but she is hurt when her friends reject her. The social bullies have always picked on Robin, and now they add Sophie to their victim list. Robin finds a way to feel good about himself when he starts taking art classes at nearby Harvard University and is accepted easily by the college students, who don't know he is a high school freshman. Things get better at high school for Robin and Sophie, and Sones (through Robin) tells how that happens. This is a good choice for creative students who sometimes feel ostracized in high school. It deals honestly with sexual feelings. Strong emotions of love, of humiliation, anger, and shame drive the poetry and the reader forward. Reviewer: Claire Rosser
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up
This sequel to What My Mother Doesn't Know (S & S, 2001) stands completely on its own. Robin's life at Cambridge High School is miserable. The arty outsider's last name becomes the pejorative slang of the school-as in, "Don't be such a Murphy." His lot improves, however, when popular Sophie becomes his girlfriend despite the detriment to her reputation. Better still, the freshman is invited to audit an art class at Harvard. It is his homecoming; for once, he is the comedian rather than the butt of jokes. One of the college freshmen even shows some romantic interest in him. Written as a novel in verse, this title is a fast-paced, page-turning romp that gives authentic voice to male youth even when it is painfully truthful.
Leah KrippnerCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Six years after What My Mother Doesn't Know sizzled onto the scene, Sones returns to continue the story of teen sweethearts Sophie Stein and Robin Murphy. Her signature free-verse poems give class-loser Robin voice this time, allowing him to describe his feelings as Sophie's public acceptance of him makes her a social pariah; as he explores the physical and emotional roller-coaster of first love; as he remakes himself from outcast to one-of-the-cool-crowd when he audits a Harvard art class-and finds himself attracted to one of that cool crowd. The excruciatingly painful dynamics of the high-school in-crowd receive a thorough treatment, as does Robin's ambivalence with them: He recognizes Sophie's pain at her rejection by formerly close friends, but at the same time, he understands that this very rejection makes her need him all the more. Robin emerges as an appealingly flawed character whose desires-for love, for acceptance, for sex-will be instantly recognized by readers. If this offering lacks some of the intensity of its predecessor, it nevertheless provides both an opportunity to revisit two likable characters and the advantage of a fresh viewpoint. (Fiction/poetry. YA)
Read an Excerpt
Piece of Advice from Me to Me
Better brace yourself,
are about to be dumped.
But It'll All Be Over in a Minute
and done with.
Sophie's just standing there
staring at me
from across the cafeteria.
Look at her.
Have you ever seen anyone so beautiful
in your life?
How could a girl like her
ever have wanted
to be with a guy like me?
Even just for two weeks?
Grace is waving her over.
Rachel's calling her.
"Fifi. Hey, Fee, we're over here!"
But I'm calling her, too.
Calling her with my eyes.
Come to me, Sophie.
Come to me . . .
Who am I kidding?
I know exactly
what she's gonna do.
A second from now
she'll yank those killer blue eyes of hers
away from mine
and walk straight over to Rachel and Grace.
Like I'm not even here.
Like the best two weeks of my life
But They Did Happen
With everyone gone for winter break,
Sophie and I were
the only two people on the planet.
It was sort of like we were inside
one of those little snow globes,
Just the two of us,
chilling under that thick glass dome --
and drawing and dancing
and kissing . . .
And I practically went into shock
when Sophie looked straight into my eyes
and told me she loved me.
Even if I come down
with a severe case of amnesia,
I'll never forget those two weeks.
And I'll Never Forget Those Kisses, Either
making out with Sophie
was a very big deal for me.
I'm not exactly what you'd call
the most experienced guy in the world.
So I'm the least experienced guy
in the world.
So Sophie was the first girl
I ever laid lips on.
But it was definitely
fourteen years for.