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One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies
Sonya Sones

Publishing Information: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: New York, 2004
ISBN: 0689858205
: 272 p.
Ages: 14 & Up

Fifteen-year-old Ruby Milliken leaves her best friend, her boyfriend, her aunt, and her mother's grave in Boston and reluctantly fliest to Los Angeles to live with her father, a famous movie star who divorced her mother before Ruby was born.

Subject Headings & Major Themes:

Actors and Actresses
Children of Celebrities
Death of a Parent
Divorced Families
Gay Parents
Grief and Loss
Novels in Verse

Awards & Reviews:
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 2005
YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 2005

BookList, May 1, 2004, p. 1557
School Library Journal, August 2004, p. 129

Discussion Questions and Ideas:

  1. What influence does Ruby's relationship with Max have on her relationship with her father?
  2. What do you think are the reasons why Ruby continues to email her dead mother?
  3. How does the difference in weather between the East coast and the West coast impact Ruby's adjustment to her new life?
  4. Why do you think Ruby is able to forgive Liz's betrayal with Ray? Do you think she will ever be able to forgive Ray for betraying her?
  5. What are some of the things Ruby finds she has in common with her father? What events help change her perspective of Whip?
  6. Ruby claims to have a strong "gaydar," and she senses that Max is gay. Why do you think she never suspected Whip was gay?
  7. What are some reasons the death of Devon, a boy she never met, might have affected Ruby so deeply?
  8. How do Ruby's feelings toward her mother change, as reflected in her letters? Has she come to terms with her mother's death?
  9. Do you think Ruby's dream warning from her mother will change her spiritual views about life and death?
  10. Where do you see Ruby in a few years? Do you think she will return to the East Coast for college, or stay in California?

Related Websites:
Author's Website -

Jinx by Margaret Wild, 2002 (2004 RITBA Nominee)
Keesha's House
by Helen Frost, 2003
Make Lemonade
by Virginia Euwer Wolff, 1993
by Mark Delaney, 2004
Running Back to Ludie by Angela Johnson, 2001
The Simple Gift by Steven Herrick, 2004
True Believer by Virginia Euwer Wolff, 2001(sequel to Make Lemonade) (2002 RITBA Nominee)
Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block, 1989
You Remind Me of You: A Poetry Memoir by Eireann Corrigan, 2002

Other Books by the Author:
Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy, 1999 (2002 RITBA Nominee)
What My Mother Doesn't Know, 2001 (2004 RITBA Nominee)

About the Author:
Passionate about writing, drawing, and photography from a young age, Sonya Sones has been writing in her journals and capturing images since her teens. She began making animated films at the age of seventeen and earned her degree in filmmaking and photography from Hampshire College. She went on to teach animation, make films for public television, edit films, and work as a still photographer and script supervisor in Hollywood. Sones lives in California with her husband and two children. She is the author of three award-winning novels-in-verse: Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy, What My Mother Doesn't Know, and One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies. Sonya Sones is available for school visits for readings, discussion groups, and poetry writing workshops.  

Courtesy of TeenReads ( and author's website

| ©2004 - Rhode Island Teen Book Award Committee | Aaron Coutu, Chair