What My Mother Doesn't Know

What My Mother Doesn't Know

4.3 518
by Sonya Sones

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My name is Sophie.
This book is about me.
It tells
the heart-stoppingly riveting story
of my first love.
And also of my second.
And, okay, my third love, too.

It's not that I'm boy crazy.
It's just that even though
I'm almost fifteen
I've been having sort of a hard time
trying to figure out the difference

…  See more details below


My name is Sophie.
This book is about me.
It tells
the heart-stoppingly riveting story
of my first love.
And also of my second.
And, okay, my third love, too.

It's not that I'm boy crazy.
It's just that even though
I'm almost fifteen
I've been having sort of a hard time
trying to figure out the difference
between love and lust.

It's like
my mind
and my body
and my heart
just don't seem to be able to agree
on anything.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"Drawing on the recognizable cadence of teenage speech, the author poignantly captures the tingle and heartache of being young and boy-crazy," wrote PW in a starred review. "She weaves separate free verse poems into a fluid and coherent narrative with a satisfying ending." Ages 12-up. (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
To quote KLIATT's September 2001 review of the hardcover edition: Another story told in a series of short poems. Sophie is the narrator, and she is full of enthusiasm for boyfriends and kissing. First she finds Dylan, after breaking up with Lou. Dylan's kisses are exciting, but as time goes on, they become less so as Sophie gets to know him better. Sophie's friends follow the details of these adolescent passions—Sophie's and their own—so Sophie is somewhat taken aback when she finds the boy of her dreams, but is embarrassed to reveal his identity. Robin Murphy, outcast, reveals his entertaining, witty, and even sexy appeal to Sophie in the Museum of Fine Arts, on the Boston Common, and at the Boston Public Library. They share a love of drawing and people watching—in fact, they discover they share many interests, including kissing each other. Sones' method of telling a story through brief poems is captivating. The reader flies from one experience to the next, enjoying the frequently witty titles of the poems, re-reading the poignant images, laughing at the impossible dilemmas. Sophie is full of life, excited about falling in love, worried about her image, loyal to her friends, trying to understand her parents. Sones' revelation of Sophie's character through poetry is brilliant. KLIATT Codes: J*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior high school students. 2001, Simon & Schuster, Pulse, 260p.,
— Claire Rosser
This book was very well written. The topic was just right for Sones. Her writing style and the way she incorporates poetry into her stories is really wonderful. I think this is an incredibly good book and I would recommend it along with her other one. I rate it 5Q 4P. 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). 2001, Simon & Schuster, 272p, $17. Ages 12 to 18. Reviewer: Andrea Alonge, Teen Reviewer
Children's Literature
Nearly fifteen years old, Sophie narrates her quest for Mr. Right-and a-half in a novel-length collection of free verse poems. On the way, readers travel through her first and second loves and a secret cyber relationship that she deletes at the first sign of weirdness. The highs and lows of Sophie's life reflect much of the excitement and anguish that mark adolescence¾maintaining and developing new friendships;experiencing first love;despairing of parents in the midst of marital strife and personal transitions;and facing down religious bigotry and collective scape-goating. Sophie negotiates all of these life-events with honesty, openness and humor as she reconstructs her identity and learns to trust her own perspective. 2001, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $17.00. Ages 12 up. Reviewer:Melissa J. Rickey
What My Mother Doesn't Know is a novel written in verse that reads like a journal. Sophie is a typical 15-year-old girl. She worries about school and likes to hang out with her friends, and much of her energy is devoted to boys. As the story begins, she has broken up with Lou, and is about to go out with Dylan. Then, she meets Chaz while chatting on-line, but quickly becomes disgusted with his perverted remarks. At a Halloween dance, Sophie is swept off her feet by a masked stranger never reveals his true identity. To be sure, Sophie is confused. But Sophie is not as confused as her mother is. Sophie's mom is a stay-at-home mother who cooks, cleans, and watches soap operas. The trouble is that she is moody, and when her feelings are hurt, she retreats to the basement for days on end. Unfortunately, Sophie's dad is away on frequent business trips, leaving Sophie to cope with the mother whom she cannot reach. Restless, she longs for a stable relationship with someone she can completely trust. By chance, at an art museum in her hometown of Boston, Sophie meets just such a boy, Murphy, who proves to be her soulmate in love and conversation. What Sophie's "mother doesn't know" is what Sophie learns on her own in this quirky, yet endearing teen romance: that good, lasting, important relationships must be built on mutual understandings. 2001, Simon and Schuster, 259 pp.,
— Cindy Carey
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up

"My name is Sophie. This book is about me." With these words, Sonya Sones's novel (S & S, 2001) draws listeners into the private thoughts and longings of a ninth grade girl on the verge of finding love and learning what it means to mature. Dealing with a mother who immerses herself in the lives of her favorite soap stars, Sophie finds herself thinking about all the things her mother doesn't know about her, such as the fact that she's dating socially acceptable Dylan, though she has started daydreaming about a dorky boy named Murphy. When everyone else seems to leave town on a school break, Sophie has a blast with Murphy, and wonders if he is Mr. Right. Thoughts of her friends' reactions to the boy almost bring the new relationship to a halt. Told in Sophie's own free verse poems, the story moves and evolves quickly in a satisfying and tantalizing manner. Kate Reinders perfectly portrays Sophie's teen angst. Although the reading is sometimes too rapid for listeners to absorb the changes in topics, girls will relate to the author's honest prose and Sohie's angst. An excellent addition to YA collections .-Jessica Miller, New Britain Public Library, CT

Kirkus Reviews
This year's umpteenth novel in verse begs the question, if the narrative were told in conventional prose, would it be worth reading? The answer in this instance is, maybe not, as it does little more than chronicle one ninth-grade girl's progression through boyfriends until she arrives at last at an unlikely Mr. Right. Laid out in a series of mostly free-verse poems, however, the text gets at the emotional state of this girl so completely and with such intensity that a conventional narrative framework would simply dilute the effect. Sophie's romantic travails take her from sexy Dylan (" . . . when he kisses me / all I feel is / the overwhelming / overness of it") through cyberdude Chaz ("If I could marry a font / I would definitely marry his") and friend-from-preschool Zak ("I hope I didn't embarrass him / when I laughed. / It's just that I thought he was kidding") to class dork Murphy ("I mean, / we're talking about Murphy here. / He's not exactly boyfriend material. / Is he?"). Along the way she must contend with casual anti-Semitism, her parents' failing marriage, and her mother's depression, but she is also bolstered by her friendship with Rachel and Grace. The verse format allows Sophie to interrogate and explore her feelings and relationships with quintessentially teenage ferocity: "I guess it wasn't how [his eyes] looked / that got to me. / It was how it felt / when they connected with mine- / like this door / was opening up inside of me / that had never been opened before, / and his soul was walking right in." If the threads involving Sophie's parents are left hanging somewhat, readers will forgive this oversight. Romantic and sexy, with a happy ending that leaves Sophie togetherwith Mr. Right, Sones (Stop Pretending: What Happened when My Big Sister Went Crazy, 1999) has crafted a verse experience that will leave teenage readers sighing with recognition and satisfaction. (Fiction/poetry. YA)
From the Publisher
Entertainment Weekly Winning.

Booklist Starred review Fast, funny, touching.

Kirkus Reviews Starred review A verse experience that will leave readers sighing with recognition and satisfaction.

Publishers Weekly Honest...destined to captivate.

KLIATT Brilliant.

Children's Literature - Christy Devillier
Fifteen-year-old Sophie is the introspective narrator of this emotionally-rich novel in verse. Concise, easy-to-read passages capture the drama of her life as she falls in and out of love, copes with emotionally distant parents, makes mistakes, and struggles down the uncertain path of self-discovery. Sophie shares the bliss and heartache of her romance with handsome Dylan, an infatuation that dissolves with the realization that they have little in common. Luckily, she has support from her two best friends, Rachel and Grace. Sophie details how the three young women love, annoy, and unintentionally influence each other. Readers learn Sophie's innermost feelings about a variety of memories and experiences—a near-miss with a cyber-predator, her first time buying tampons, painful clashes with her mother, and a titillating dance with a masked stranger. Sophie also confesses something she won't tell another soul: She is fascinated with Murphy, the least popular and homeliest boy at school. While her friends are out of town, she runs into Murphy at a museum. A shared passion for art and sketching brings them together, and Sophie finds herself falling hard for a guy widely derided by her friends and everyone she knows. How will she tell Rachel and Grace about this new love? Finding a true connection with someone is rare and wonderful, but Sophie isn't sure it's worth the risk of losing her best friends. She faces a difficult choice, and readers will be rooting for her in this honest, heartfelt novel. Sones' convincing portrayal of Sophie will resonate with teen and pre-teen readers. Her well-written, poetic prose effortlessly draws readers into Sophie's world. The wide appeal of this engaging title makes it an ideal choice for young adult collections. A sequel, What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know, continues the journey. Reviewer: Christy Devillier

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Product Details

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
12 - 15 Years

Read an Excerpt


Most people just call me Sophie

(which is the name

on my birth certificate),

or Sof,

or sometimes Sofa.

Zak and Danny think it's cute

to call me Couch,

as in:

"How're your cushions doing today, Couch?"

Or sometimes they call me Syphilis,

which I don't find one bit funny.

My parents usually call me

Sophie Dophie or Soso.

And Rachel and Grace call me Fifi,

or sometimes just Fee.

But Dylan calls me Sapphire.

He says it's because of my eyes.

I love the way his voice sounds

when he says it.


I like whispering it to myself.

His name for me.


It's like the secret password

to my heart.

Sixth Sense

Sometimes I just know things.

Like when Lou asked me to go on that walk

down by the reservoir last year

on the last day of eighth grade.

I knew he was going to say

he wanted to break up with me.

And I knew my heart

would shatter

when he did.

I just know things.

I can feel them coming.

Like a couple of weeks ago

when I went to the Labor Day party at Zak's.

Something perfect was going to happen.

I just knew it.

That was the night I met Dylan.

How It Happened

After Zak's party,

Rachel's big sister

came to drive a bunch of us home,

with her friend

and her friend's younger brother.

I was the last one to get in the car

and it turned out

all the other laps were taken,

so I had to sit on

Rachel's sister's friend's brother's lap.

It was

Dylan's lap,

but even though he goes to my school

I'd never seen him before.

And he had such smoldery dark eyes

that I felt like I'd been zapped

smack into the middle

of some R-rated movie

and everyone else in the car

was just going to fade away

and this guy and I

were going to start making out,

right then and there,

without ever having said

one word to each other.

But what really happened

was that he blushed and said,

"Hi. I'm Dylan."

And I blushed back and said,

"I'm Sophie."

And he said, "Nice name."

And I said, "Thanks."

After that we didn't say anything else

but our bodies seemed to be

carrying on a conversation of their own,

leaning together

into every curve of the road,

sharing skin secrets.

And just before we got to my house,

I thought I felt him

give my waist an almost squeeze.

Then the car rolled to a stop

and I climbed out

with my whole body buzzing.

I said good night,

headed up the front walk,

and when I heard the car pulling away,

I looked back over my shoulder

and saw Dylan looking over his shoulder

at me.

When our eyes connected,

this miracle smile lit up his face

and I practically had

a religious experience.

Then I went upstairs to bed

and tried to fall asleep,

but I felt permanently wide awake.

And I kept on seeing that smile of his

and feeling that almost squeeze.

Distracted in Math Class

All I have to do

is close my eyes

and I can feel his lips,

the way they felt

that very first time.

I can feel the heat of them,

parting just slightly,

brushing across my cheek,

moving closer

and closer still

to my mouth,

till I can hardly breathe,

hardly bear to wait

for them to press onto mine.

All I have to do

is close my eyes.

Between Classes with Dylan

We fall into step

in the crowded hall

without even glancing

at each other,

but his little finger

finds mine,

hooking us


and all the clatter

of the corridor fades away

till the only sound I can hear

is the whispering of our fingers.

In the Cafeteria

Sitting alone

with Dylan.

Eating my sandwich,

but not

tasting it.

I'm only aware of

the sparks in his eyes,

the sun in his hair

and the spot where his knee's

touching mine.

Then, over his shoulder,

I see Rachel and Grace waving at me,

grinning like pumpkins,

holding up this little sign

with "Remember us?" written on it.

In the Girls' Bathroom

"Is he a good kisser?"

Rachel asks.

"Unbelievable," I say.

And it's true.

Dylan's kisses

seem like something

much better than kissing.

It's like

I can feel them

with my whole body.

That never used to happen

when Lou kissed me.

And he's the only other boy

I've ever made out with.

"Has he tried to get to second base?"

Grace wants to know.

But the bell rings just in time.

It's Been Rachel, Grace and Me

Ever Since

That September afternoon,

when third grade had barely begun

and we were just getting

to know each other,

we skipped through

the first fallen leaves,

weaving our way through

the quiet neighborhood

to Sage Market for Häagen-Dazs bars.

That September afternoon,

when we saw the four older girls

pedaling towards us,

we didn't expect them to stop

or to leap off their bikes

and suddenly surround us.

But they did.

And we had no idea that the biggest one,

Mary Beth Butler,

who had these glinting slits for eyes,

would ask Rachel

what church she belonged to.

That September afternoon,

after Rachel mumbled, "Saint James's,"

we didn't know that Mary Beth

would ask Grace the same question,

or that Grace would squeak out,


And it's none of your business."

But she did.

And when Mary Beth asked me the question

and I said I didn't go to church

because I was Jewish,

I didn't think she'd start shouting

at Rachel and Grace,

"Don't you know you aren't supposed

to play with anyone

who doesn't go to church?"

while her friends glared

and tightened their circle around us.

That September afternoon,

when Rachel kicked Mary Beth in the shin

and the three of us

crashed through the cage of bikes,

racing off together

across the nearest lawn,

scrambling through the hedge

and into the alley,

not stopping till we

were locked safely behind

the heavy oak of Rachel's front door,

we didn't know that we'd just become

best friends.

But we had.

Text copyright © 2001 by Sonya Sones

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Entertainment Weekly Winning.

Booklist Starred review Fast, funny, touching.

Kirkus Reviews Starred review A verse experience that will leave readers sighing with recognition and satisfaction.

Publishers Weekly Honest...destined to captivate.

KLIATT Brilliant.

Meet the Author

Sonya Sones has taught animation, worked as a photographer, and edited movies. Her first book, Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and won a Christopher Award, the Claudia Lewis Poetry Award, and the Myra Cohn Livingston Poetry Award. Sonya lives near the beach in California, with her family. Visit her at www.sonyasones.com.

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