52nd Discussion: Sonya Sones’s One of those Hideous Books where the Mother Dies

one-of-those-hideous

Present: Timmy, Luke, Aaron, Jiaqi, Gavin and Alexius.

Themes

1. Father-Daughter Relationship: Why does Ruby need to know that Whip loves her mother before forgiving him? Timmy suggested that knowing it is a revelation for Ruby, turning her world around, sets her thinking.

Timmy also said that Ruby giving Whip his name is Whip’s way of submission.

For Ruby to reconcile with Whip, several severe incidents have to occur: death of a classmate (Jiaqi’s point), betrayal of best friend and boyfriend (Jiaqi), natural disaster (Timmy), and substitution of absent, seemingly uncaring Aunt Duffy with Aunt Max (Aaron). (Alexius chimed, “Wah, Ruby makes a very good accountant, she knows her debts and balances”.)

Except for Jiaqi, we thought that it was heavy-handed for the author to bring the father-daugther together in such a manner. Jiaqi was thinking in terms of time, and said that it was relatively short time (6 months) for the daughter to accept the father.

Would the author be so heavy-handed if it were a straight father? Aaron contended that the heavy-handedness is a form of overcompensation, and hence, showing insecurity of one’s sexuality: “Look here, everyone abandons you, except for your gay father and his boyfriend, so gay people are nice people after all.”

This overcompensation is also shown in the “clean” handing of Max and Whip’s relationships. Alexius pointed out, “Why is the house so quiet at night? How come they don’t moan?” Throughout the book, there are no telltale signs of Max having an intimate moment with Whip, or no direct declarations of “I love yous.” Javin said, “They are gay, but they have no sexuality.” Indeed, it seems like gay men are Ken dolls.

Because of the overcompensation of a gay father, Aaron argued that the author worked so hard to bring about the reconciliation of the father-daughter pair. A gay father is better than “an alcoholic heroin addict who brutally beats her and sexually molests her thereby causing her to become a bulimic ax murderer” (p. 7). It is as if the author is saying, “phew.. look here, the father is gay, but he loves the daughter and does all these things for her that no one else can do. A gay father is a step up from a child-molester, right?” Jiaqi disagreed with Aaron, stating that there was no direct evidence of the sexuality of the father having to do with her acceptance of him.

2. Gay Stereotypes: Alexius observed that stereotypes of gay men are presented: goodlooking actor and buff, sensitive nanny. The usage of “Aunt Max” irked us, although Alexius justified that it is easier to call “Aunt” (1 syllable) than “Uncle” (2 syllables).

3. Mother-Daughter Relationship: Timmy brought up the emails that Ruby sends to a dead mother as a form of working through her grief, which Aaron found touching while Alexius found inane.

Structure/ Literary Devices

1. Verse: Both Alexius and Timmy thought the novel is MRT-friendly, easy to read in bite-size.

2. Readership: Javin pointed out the narrator is an American teenage girl and the target reader is an American teenager.  Timmy continued that we may be too old to read a Young Adult book, which accounts why we didn’t like the book.

3. Lyrics: Aaron noted that in many instances (pp. 89, 48, 87, 191, 207, 205) are written very similar to song lyrics. Timmy suggested that the writing came off as trite.

4. Movie references: There are several movie references, as if Ruby’s life is a movie. Alexius hinted that it is because Ruby’s epistemology is learned from movies, and Timmy suggested that instead of coming off as smart, the author’s plans backfire, making the novel predictable and cliche.

5. Title: Alexius disliked the title because it is too long to be keyed in the National Library catalogue, hard to search, while Timmy thought the

Characters

1. Ruby: Most of us, especially Timmy, disliked her because she is self-absorbed and unforgiving but insecure.

2. Ray: Alexius’s favorite character.

3. Colette: Timmy’s favorite character.

4. Max the muscle bear is Aaron’s favorite, although Alexius finds him creepy; he keeps going to Ruby’s room, like he’s the 3 bears and Ruby is Goldilocks.

5. Alexius hates Mom because she is the cause of everything.

Conclusion

Timmy said the book doesn’t deserve the blurbs on the back cover. “‘Ruby’s voice is pitch-perfect’….ly off-pitch,” Timmy said.

While we all disliked the book, we wanted to end on a positive note and say something nice. Timmy calls on the “Disney ending.” Both Timmy and Jiaqi agreed it was easy to read. Alexius liked the consistence book covers across all her books–they all have an orb of light. Javin, who didn’t read the book, turned the cliche-ness of the book into something positive: “I can discuss the book even without reading it.” Timmy’s favorite part is page 226. The page starts with “Things I am Thankful For”–and is a blank page.

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1 Comment

Filed under Family, Gay, Love, Sonya Sones, USA, Young Adult

One response to “52nd Discussion: Sonya Sones’s One of those Hideous Books where the Mother Dies

  1. Pingback: Our Favorite Books in 2013 | Queer Book & Movie Club (Singapore)

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