What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know

>> Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Author: Sonya Sones
Recommended Age: Young Adult
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
ISBN: 978-0-689-87603-5
Year Published: 2008
No. Pages: 291
Genre: Realistic Fiction/ Free Verse
Main Character Gender: Male
Read & Reviewed by: Zach

"My name in Robin Murphy this book is about me. It tells the story of what happens when after almost  fifteen pathetic years of being a loser, the girl of my dreams finally falls for me."

What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know is a free verse novel and the sequel to What My Mother Doesn't Know. The story picks up after Sophie decides to publicly date Robin Murphy. Robin is a great artist, an old music trivia buff and a social outcast. When Robin gets offered to audit art classes at Harvard, he feels better about himself because he makes new friends who like him for who he is. He also meets a girl who develops a crush on him and this causes him to make a mistake that could cost him what he cares about most.

I enjoyed the book because of the techniques Sones used. She wrote each chapter in free verse poetry and the use of white space made the book more interesting. For example, she wrote one page in the shape of an arrow pointing downwards when Robin was feeling depressed. On another page, the words are shaped as a human head with a Pinocchio nose when Robin was lying.

I also enjoyed the novel because of the humour weaved throughout. Sones uses Scott's hormones and sexual innuendo to make the reader laugh. For example, one of the pages is shaped as a pair of breasts and is entitled I Do Not Have a One Track Mind while the only other words say, “yeah, right”. This really had me laughing because like many males, my mind often wonders to this same place. It was refreshing for me to see a writer be so upfront and open.

This was only my second free verse novel and I really enjoy them because they are short in terms of length but they still carry a lot of meaning. Sones uses a lot of imagery so it was really easy to feel the story unfolding like a movie in my mind. Since this novel was in first person, I could really hear Robin's voice and I got to know his thoughts and feelings. He echoed the difficulties I have experienced and witnessed of what it is like being a teenager struggling with social status. Robin has always been bullied and this is one of the main themes in the novel. Robin showed tremendous strength of character to endure bullying and always chose to just put up with it instead of fighting back.

The ending is unresolved for me because I prefer a clear cut ending. This story only hints at the resolution sending my mind scrambling to all the possibilities. I would enjoy a third novel in this series. I rated this one a nine out of ten and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys short reads and can relate to the difficulties teenagers face in terms of relationships and social status.

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