When this story opens, 15-year-old Ruby says, “My life better not turn out to be like one of those hideous books where the mother dies.” She hates books like that, where the main character’s mother dies, she has to go live with her alcoholic father who beats her, and she turns into a psychopathic ax murderer. Ruby doesn’t want that. But she doesn’t want what she has either. Her mother has just died, and she’s flying off to Hollywood to live with a father she has never even known, the famous actor Whip Logan, who divorced her mother before Ruby was born, or so she thinks. Ruby is miserable in Hollywood, and she is determined never to give her father a break. She lives in a mansion with a front hall twice the size of her old house, an indoor fishpond, a curved marble staircase and a bedroom right out of her dreams. She is committed to detesting it all, including the drives to school in any of her father’s several classic cars, the bizarre array of actors’ sons and daughters at her new school and classes such as Freudian Dream Interpretation. Still, it is kind of cool to have Cameron Diaz as a next-door neighbor.
For all of her acute and humorous observations of the high school scene and her self-righteous attacks on her father, there are things Ruby doesn’t know or understand, and there are surprises in store for her and the reader. Sonya Sones is one of the leading practitioners of the novel in verse for young adult readers, and readers will enjoy this new book every bit as much as her previous novel, What My Mother Doesn’t Know, a huge hit with teens. Ruby’s voice is pitch-perfect, with all of the humor, high spirits, melodrama and wisecracking typical of a smart teenager plopped down in an unwanted situation.
By the end, Ruby is beginning to find her way in this bizarre new life, and she finds pieces of the puzzle of her life that begin to make her seem whole. She likes that, and her life no longer seems destined to be a hideous book. Dean Schneider teaches middle school English in Nashville.