When fifteen-year-old Ruby's mother dies, she's shipped off to live with her father in California. Forced to leave her boyfriend and her lifelong best friend, Ruby is less than thrilled at the prospect of a reunion with the father she's never known. And he's not just any father - he's Whip Logan, star of the silver screen. Full of resentment at the man who deserted her before she was even born, Ruby is determined not to let him into her life. But as her life crumbles around her, keeping him out proves harder than she ever would've expected.
Told in a series of connected poems, One Of Those Hideous Books Where The Mother Dies is a shining example of a much-underrated form. Having only fairly recently discovered for myself just how absorbing the YA verse novel can be, I can relate to all those who don't think they'd enjoy reading a story written entirely in poetry. Especially if - like me - you're not a huge fan of poetry in general. But if any verse novel can change your mind, I think it might be One of Those Hideous Books Where The Mother Dies. With an engaging story and a wonderfully snarky narrator, this one is gold.
In this particular verse novel, the poetry is interspersed with the occasional prose email from main character Ruby to the people who mattered most in her life back in Boston: her boyfriend Ray, her best friend Lizzie, and her much-missed mum. Each of the poems has its own subtly unique flavour, but flows as part of a seamless whole. As a protagonist, narrator Ruby shares poignant memories, striking imagery and the occasional WTF moment, taking the reader with her through the grieving process and out the the other side. It's also a journey of discovery, as Ruby slowly realises that maybe everything she thought was true about her father... isn't.
The majority of Ruby's story takes place in Hollywood, home of her movie-star father. For Ruby, it's like a different planet. Being snapped by the paparazzi, attending a school that has its own resident drug dealer, living next door to Cameron Diaz... Despite the sad circumstances, the setting gives her journey an element of wonder that ensures it never becomes dark or depressing.
One of Those Hideous Books Where The Mother Dies is a sensitive and thoughtful story about a girl who loses everything - and then finds something new. It's insightful and surprisingly upbeat and at times laugh-out-loud funny in a way I hadn't realised a verse novel could be. It's like a hit of pure YA amazingness. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys verse novels and anyone who thinks they just might, given the right book. This may well be the right book.
Out: already, US.