Author: Sonya Sones
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Plot Summary: What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know begins with Robin Murphy and his girlfriend Sophie as they begin their romantic relationship in high school. However, due to Robin being highly unpopular, to the extent that his last name is used as an insult, Sophie's friends abandon her and the rest of the school mocks her. Robin, being used to this aimed at himself, bridles at the changes Sophie has to encounter just for being with him. Sophie, however, thinks of ways to fight back and believes that it will all blow over once something new happens. However, Robin suddenly gets a new chance at his teenage life when he is accepted to a college-level art program, where nobody knows what a Murphy is and nobody knows his embarrassing past. He gets a new group of friends who automatically invite him to hang out and he is the center of attention. Robin struggles between supporting Sophie and enjoying his teenage years with his new college friends.
Critical Evaluation: The format of Sones' novel is intriguing. Each page consists of a short poem format with no set rhyme scheme, but with indentation that causes the reader to pause at certain points in the sentences, as can be seen in the quote above. While at first, the format felt stilted and awkward, as the reader continues reading they are drawn in by the unfolding plot and the format becomes smooth and rhythmic. It is a very original format and may put off readers at first, but if given a chance, it allows for a quick and entertaining read. Similar to reading song lyrics, What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know has innate music within the writing. The main characters within the novel of Robin and Sophie are endearing and well-rounded, especially as the plot continues and Sophie's friends return to her, her actions are believable. The side characters do not have enough time devoted to making them complete and three-dimensional.
Reader's Annotation: Robin Murphy is a ridiculed 15-year-old who finally gets to date the girl of his dreams, only to realize that all her former friends turn their backs on her for dating the Murphy, a common insult derived from his name. Soon, his guilt overrides his love for her and he takes solace in his college art class, where nobody knows him as Murphy and he falls into a crowd of cool, artistic young adults.
Information About the Author: Sonya Sones was born in Boston and first thought she would grow up to be an artist. Later, she decided she liked animated films and earned her degree in film-making and photography.
Sones started writing after reading to her children and now is a prolific young adult writer who has been awarded multiple honors. She lives in California. Read more about Sones at her website.
Genre: Popularity; Fiction; Dating; Romance; Art
Curriculum Ties N/A
- How did the format of the book affect the experience of learning about Robin and his life? Did you feel it helped or took away from the process?
Reading Level: 15+
Challenge Issues N/A
Why This Book?: 2007 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
Sones, S. (2007). What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know. New York: Simon & Schuster Books.