Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones

What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones
published 2001 by Simon & Schuster
259 pages (hardcover), YA

Jacket flap:
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.
I think that's enough of a summary, really. You've got the main character (Sophie), the basic content of the book (her love life as a 15 year-old girl), and the style in which it's written (series of poems).

What My Mother Doesn't Know shockingly made it to #7 on 2010's Most Frequently Challenged Books list for reasons that I cannot comprehend. So, I'm just not going to even try. Instead, let's talk about why this book is absolutely amazing and why I love it so. :)

The title of this book makes it sound like it's going to be super trashy, but it's not - not at all! I don't like to do this, but I'm going to reveal the secret of the title for you. Cover your eyes if you really don't want to know. Here it comes ... What Sophie's mother doesn't know is that Sophie doesn't want to wear the ugly rose-printed dress she guilted Sophie into buying and that Sophie actually will be changing at a friend's house into a slinky black dress more suited for the Halloween dance. Oh Sophie, how could you! (Pardon the sarcasm.) C'mon, who hasn't performed the good ol' switcheroo? I know I certainly did as a teen!

What's wonderful about the book is Sophie's voice. She's so disarmingly honest. Her poems transport you right into the depths of a specific feeling. From the initial sparks of a new crush to the empathy of a lonely classmate and the longing for a better relationship with her mother, Sophie feels everything so acutely that you can't help but feel it a little too. On the back cover of my book, there's a blurb by Laurie Halse Anderson that sums up my thoughts about the story - "Tender and sexy and honest. With the poetry of an innocent kiss and the passion of a teenager's heart, Sones has created a book that feels like real love." Exactly! It feels like real love.

I remember reading this book when it first came out and absolutely devouring and adoring it because I could relate to it so well (even though I was a few years older than Sophie), but even reading it again just last night, 10 years later, I'm still right there with Sophie. It's not that it was a good book for me at the time because I could relate to it - it's just a good book, period. It's one that I'll re-read again and again because it'll remind me of what it's like to be a teen in such a beautiful and heartfelt way. Sophie and I are kindred spirits, that's for sure, but I think Sophie's charm can extend to those who may not relate so closely too. Gosh, I want to read it again right now! I'm not properly conveying how excited about and grateful for this book I am. You'll just have to read it for yourself to see why it makes me so giddy and tongue-tied. :)

So yeah, I was indeed surprised to find this book on last year's Most Frequently Challenged list mostly because it's so old. Ten years is a long shelf life for a YA novel! Does that mean it's on its way to becoming a classic? Are teens still gobbling it up like I did back in the day? I sure hope so! And I hope that this list appearance makes it a little more popular still.

Five purple crayons for one of my favorite books ever!


Cross-posted to the Banned Books blog.


Jennifer said...

In my library, it's on the "most frequently stolen" list. I think I've replaced it 4? 5? times in the last three years.

Peaceful Reader said...

This sounds like a wonderful read! I need to check for it at my public library.

Banned books (like brunettes) are just more fun!

NatalieSap said...

Jennifer - That's kinda awesome. :) I hope you don't give up on it!

Michelle - It really is. I love all her books. I wish she'd write more!

Jan von Harz said...

Loved this review and am now needing to read this book because based on what you said I can't imagine why in the world it would be challenged. I am always amazed when a parent comes to me or my school librarian complaining about books that are they have quite obvious not read in their entirety but have instead taken something out of context to question. Loved reading your thoughts.

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