Reviews for What My Mother Doesn't Know


Booklist Monthly Selections - #2 November 2001
/*Starred Review*/ Gr. 6-10. In a fast, funny, touching book, Sones uses the same simple, first-person poetic narrative she used in Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy (1999), but this story isn't about family anguish; it's about the joy and surprise of falling in love. Sophie, 14, thinks she has a crush on handsome Dylan, but she discovers that her most passionate feelings are for someone totally unexpected, a boy who makes her laugh and shows her how to look at the world. And when they kiss, every cell in her body is on fire. Meanwhile, she fights with her mom--who fights with Sophie's dad--and she refuses to wear a pink flowered dress to the school dance, secretly changing into a slinky black outfit with the help of her girlfriends. Their girl talk is hilarious and irreverent in the style of Naylor's Alice books. The poetry is never pretentious or difficult; on the contrary, the very short, sometimes rhythmic lines make each page fly. Sophie's voice is colloquial and intimate, and the discoveries she makes are beyond formula, even while they are as sweetly romantic as popular song. A natural for reluctant readers, this will also attract young people who love to read. ((Reviewed November 15, 2001)) Copyright 2001 Booklist Reviews

----------------------
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2002 Fall
This novel chronicles the life and loves of eighth-grader Sophie in first-person free-verse poems. Sones tries a little too hard to be hip and her style is sometimes contrived, but overall the voice is fresh and honest, often transcending cool to realistically portray adolescent vulnerability. Copyright 2002 Horn Book Guide Reviews

----------------------
Kirkus Reviews 2001 September #2
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 together with 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) Copyright Kirkus 2001 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved

----------------------
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2001 October #3
Drawing on the recognizable cadences of teenage speech, Sones (Stop Pretending) poignantly captures the tingle and heartache of being young and boy-crazy. The author keenly portrays ninth-grader Sophie's trajectory of lusty crushes and disillusionment whether she is gazing at Dylan's "smoldery dark eyes" or dancing with a mystery man to music that "is slow/ and/ saxophony." Best friends Rachel and Grace provide anchoring friendships for Sophie as she navigates her home life as an only child with a distant father and a soap opera-devotee mother whose "shrieking whips around inside me/ like a tornado." Some images of adolescent changes carry a more contemporary cachet, "I got my period I prefer/ to think of it as/ rebooting my ovarian operating system," others are consciously clichéd, "my molehills/ have turned into mountains/ overnight" this just makes Sophie seem that much more familiar. With its separate free verse poems woven into a fluid and coherent narrative with a satisfying ending, Sophie's honest and earthy story feels destined to captivate a young female audience, avid and reluctant readers alike. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

----------------------
School Library Journal Reviews 2001 October
Gr 6-8-A story written in poetry form. Sophie is happily dating Dylan, "until he's practically glued himself to my side." Then she falls for cyberboy ("if I could marry a font/I'd marry his"). Imagine her surprise when he becomes downright scary. In the satisfying ending, Sophie finds the perfect boyfriend-someone she's known all along. Sones is a bright, perceptive writer who digs deeply into her protagonist's soul. There she reveals the telltale signs of being "boy crazy"; the exciting edginess of cyber romances; the familiar, timeless struggle between teens and parents; and the anguish young people feel when their parents fight. But life goes on, and relationships subtly change. Sones's poems are glimpses through a peephole many teens may be peering through for the first time, unaware that others are seeing virtually the same new, scary, unfamiliar things (parents having nuclear meltdowns, meeting a boyfriend's parents, crying for no apparent reason). In What My Mother Doesn't Know, a lot is revealed about the teenage experience- ("could I really be falling for that geek I dissed a month ago?"), clashes with close friends, and self-doubts. It could, after all, be readers' lives, their English classes, their hands in a first love's. Of course, mothers probably do know these goings-on in their daughters' lives. It's just much easier to believe they don't. Sones's book makes these often-difficult years a little more livable by making them real, normal, and OK.-Sharon Korbeck, Waupaca Area Public Library, WI Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

----------------------
VOYA Reviews 2001 October
Fifteen-year-old Sophie dreams of finding true love. It is hard to find love among friends who are trying to be cool, romance that does not work, and distant parents who fight. Sophie finds herself shocked and turned off by an encounter with an Internet pervert, fighte with her mother after getting caught wearing a dress she was forbidden to buy, and is frustrated at seeking the identity of the masked boy who captures her heart at the Halloween dance. During the winter holidays, while her friends are away on vacations, Sophie runs into outcast Murphy at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. To her great surprise, Sophie strikes up a friendship with Murphy. Somewhat predictably, she discovers that he is the masked man from the dance. Eventually, she falls in love with him. How will the cool kids at school, especially her best friends, Grace and Rachel, react when they find out that she has fallen for someone they consider unacceptable? Sophie's final decision will leave readers breathless and cheering. Sones follows the novel-in-verse tradition of Karen Hesse's Out of the Dust (Scholastic, 1997/VOYA April 1998), Robert Cormier's Frenchtown Summer (Delacorte, 1999/VOYA December 1999), and her own Stop Pretending (HarperCollins, 1999) in this humorous and bittersweet novel. The poems are snappy, and each one strikes a chord that fluidly moves the reader on to the next episode. Whether she is socking a boy who molests her on the street, purchasing a half dozen sperm-shaped-print panties off the discount rack, or watching her parents finally split apart, Sophie is a strong, likeable, and memorable character.-Diane Tuccillo. 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.-Andrea Alonge, Teen Reviewer. 5Q 4P J S Copyright 2001 Voya Reviews

----------------------