105 Ways to Give a Book

Poetry Friday: What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know

I love books in verse because they are so quick to read. What? You think the same thing, admit it. Sonya Sones also does a good job of making them funny, realistic, and completely enjoyable.

What My Girlfriend Doesn't KnowWhat My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know is a direct continuation of the story of What My Mother Doesn’t Know. In WMMDK, Sophie starts dating Robin, a boy very outside of the high school social circle, during the school’s winter break. In WMGDK, the break is over, and now they’ll have to see what happens when a popular girl dates a boy whose name is synonymous — literally — with loser. This poem from the book pretty much sums it up.
As Sophie and I walk through the halls,
holding hands on our way to art class,
it feels like we’re committing a crime.

Everyone who sees us
looks offended, grossed out,
horrified, even,

as though I’m King Kong,
and Sophie’s the little blonde
struggling to escape from my huge hairy fist.

They’re gawking at us,
like Sophie’s Beauty and I’m the Beast.
Like I’m Shrek and Sophie’s Fiona.

I can feel her palm
beginning to sweat in mine.
I can feel her fingers stiffening.

But I try to let go of her hand,
so that people won’t know
we’re together —

she won’t let me.
The relationship is difficult for both of them. Sophie is losing her friends. Robin feels responsible for her unhappiness, and additionally has to look more closely at his own social status. He finds some refuge in a college art class that he is allowed to take. On campus, the students don’t know his past or his age and accept him for the funny, smart, talented guy that he is. In some ways, that only makes the situation harder.

As someone who regularly dated... let’s say unexpected guys in my own high school and college careers, I could relate to the story. It’s all too easy to say in books that it doesn’t matter who is identified as cool or uncool, but as someone who’s been there, it matters. You try being the smart kid whose arty boyfriend goes through a punk phase, though I have to admit that I lost interest just before the mohawk made its appearance. His, not mine.

In this book I was intrigued with the boy’s point of view of the odd-couple relationship. Teen girls may also appreciate the boy’s perspective on the early stages of making out. I’d say it was a tad overdone on the “it will all be better in college” message, but maybe smart teens need that idea hammered home by someone other than their parents. There was definitely a strong message for girls to take it slow with their boyfriends — but with two daughters, you’re not going to find me objecting to that concept.


Sara said...

Oh, MR, I was so picturing you with a mohawk. :)

Becky said...

I liked the message that things would get better in college. Maybe that's just because I wish I had known that at 14. (There are many things I know now that I wish I had known at 14.) And I liked the hope that seemed to give him. Anyway, looking back it seems that no one ever told me that life would be better, get better, drastically, emphatically better after high school. And that college could be so mind-blowingly wonderful...

Jennie said...

A teacher once told my mother that life would be easier for me as I got to bigger and older schools-- junior high would be better than elementary school, high school better than junior high, and college the best of all.

Now, if only my mom had told ME that.

Not that I would have believed her. ;)

Robin Brande said...

I really loved What My Mother Doesn't Know--as well as Sonya Sones' other books. She's such a talent. Can't wait to read this one, especially after your review!

tanita✿davis said...

Heh. In college this was me -- the nerdy girl working two jobs with the goth boyfriend with the eyeliner and black nails. I had people, well-meaning adults take me aside. It didn't get better in college for me, but by then I was well practiced in "don't care." Well, I thought so, anyway.

Little Willow said...

I have had this book on request at the library since the moment they first put it into the system. It needs to turn up! I adore Sones' writing.