Sones, S. (2001). What My Mother Doesn’t Know. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers. ISBN 0689841140
In this novel in verse, Sophie, an almost fifteen year old girl, recounts the story of her first, second, and third love. Sophie shares the hopes, thrills, and confusions of her young romances.
Sones employs a varied collection of rhythms in her free verse poems for this novel that capture the undulating, ever-changing emotions of a fourteen year old girl. Her word choice is direct and honest and her rhythm, rhyme, and sound combine to capture the immediacy and life or death attitude of every situation as a teenage girl. Throughout the novel, Sophie shares the stories of her different love interests, but Sones avoids the formulaic, cliché ending by having the unexpected boy end up as Sophie’s true love. Along the way, Sophie learns that she does not need to be embarrassed of this boy even though he is made fun of at school. This theme in the book will speak to young adults without being pedantic and off-putting. The other main theme in the book is Sophie longing for the genuine attention of her parents. Both of these themes are spot on for the age group and will appeal to young adult female readers as being exactly what they are going through in their own lives. Young adult males should check out the sequel, What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know, for the same story from a teen boy’s perspective. Despite the years on the book, it still rings true for young adults and is a welcome addition to any collection for the age group.
Practice writing free verse poems:
First, have students pick one of the poems in the book and adapt it to be true for themselves by changing the necessary parts of the poem. Students may practice adapting more than one poem until they feel comfortable with the format.
Then, using the adapted poems and the original poems as a guide, have students select a topic from a list (first date, first crush, first day in new school, friend’s birthday party) and write a free verse poem about that topic.
Girls Health Website
This website has information about several topics including relationships, feelings, and bullying. These three topics all have a presence in the book and this website geared toward teen girls could be helpful to readers of this book that are seeking more information.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2015). Girls Health. Office on Women’s Health. Retrieved from http://girlshealth.gov/
What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know
This is the sequel to What My Mother Doesn’t Know, and is told from the point of view of Robin, one of Sophie’s boyfriends. This will give the reader more insight into the male point of view of some of the same situations in the first book.
Sones, S. (2013). What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers. ISBN 9781442493841
What’s Happening to My Body? Book for Girls: Revised Edition
This nonfiction book answers questions about girls changing bodies and feelings during preteen and teen years. This book will serve as a good information companion to What My Mother Doesn’t Know.
Madaras, L., Madaras, A. & Sullivan, S. (2007). What’s Happening to My Body? Book for Girls: Revised Edition. New York, NY: William Morrow Paperbacks. ISBN 9781557047649
Korbeck, S. (2001, October 1). [Review of the book What My Mother Doesn’t Know. Available online from School Library Journal: http://www.slj.com/
Cover Picture Citation:
Harper, Charise Mericle. (Illustrator). (2001). Cover of what my mother doesn’t know. Retrieved from https://www.juniorlibraryguild.com/books/view.dT/0689841140