Wednesday, May 29, 2019

REVIEW: Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti

Honey, Baby, Sweetheart

Right away I got that Something About To Happen feeling. Right away I knew he was bad, and that it didn't matter.

It is summer in the Northwest town of Nine Mile Falls, and sixteen-year-old Ruby McQueen, ordinarily dubbed The Quiet Girl, finds herself hanging out with gorgeous, rich, thrill-seeking Travis Becker. But Ruby is in over her head, and finds she is risking more and more when she's with him.

In an effort to keep Ruby occupied, Ruby's mother Ann drags Ruby to the weekly book club she runs. When it is discovered that one of the group''s own members is the subject of the tragic love story they are reading, Ann and Ruby spearhead a reunion between the long-ago lovers. But for Ruby, this mission turns out to be much more than just a road trip....

I picked this book up on a whim. It was a free read on Riveted and since I had yet to read a book by Deb Caletti, I decided to give it a read.

Honey, Baby, Sweetheart is about a teenage girl, Ruby McQueen's, summer. There are two main storylines. First, while walking home from work she passes the new Becker house and one day meets Travis Becker. This sets off a fast and spiraling relationship. She rides on his motorcycle, walks along train tracks, skips out on work, and jumps out the way of a car at the last second. Being with Travis is dangerous and Ruby knows this, but she wants to be around him. Until Travis asks her to do something that she regrets and hurts someone she cares for. The second storyline is after this event, when Ruby's mother drags Ruby to the Casserole Queens book club, a book club of old ladies (and Harold). When they find out that the book they are reading is connected to one of the Queen's lost loves, the book club turns into a kidnapping (from a senior home) and a road trip.

The writing in this book was wonderful. Every small detail was described and every character gets careful attention. I really loved the narration in this sense and it really made me feel like I was within the setting. The observations from Ruby as she tells us these small details did not feel at all like an interruption or unnecessary, they felt natural. They made me feel like I was really seeing these places through her eyes and hearing her tell me the story. That said, her narration did bother at some points when she would step aside and hint that there were darker things to come, they had no idea what was about to happen, etc. I'm not really a fan of narration that vaguely hints at what is to come in an unhelpful manner. I don't mind past tense, but there is no reason for these vague hints as they don't really do anything for the story.

As I mention in my run-down of the plot, there are two main storylines: The Travis Plot and the Book Club Plot. Unlike other books with multiple storylines, these did not weave very well with each other. The Travis Plot ended and then the Book Club Plot began, but we were still reading the same book. The Travis Plot focuses on Ruby as she starts up a relationship with a rich, bad boy. This did explore unhealthy relationships a little, along with first love, but it was very quick. We did not see very many in the moment interactions with Ruby and Travis, but we are told enough to know that he does not have respect for the rules and that he has no regards for Ruby's safety. This was fine because it showed that a "bad boy" isn't always who you want and you should not change yourself for that, but once we get into the Book Club Plot, Travis is barely mentioned. I will mention that the Travis Plot also had a lot of scenes involving Ruby's dad, who left her mother, but still comes home every once and a while and that her mother always remains hopeful that Ruby's dad will stay this time. There were moments in this that made me sad/upset for their family, but there was such a realness to how their family interactions were described. I do like how the family struggles and the Travis Plot went together. They were described similarly at points.

I liked the Book Club Plot the best out of the two storylines. After getting in trouble with Travis, Ruby's mom makes her join the Casserole Queens Book Club with her. I just liked the interactions between the Casserole Queens. The Casserole Queens find out that one of their newest members (who has just suffered a stroke) may have been romantically involved with a famous author they are reading a memoir from. They want to reunite them on a road trip and since I love road trips in books, I loved the inclusion of this, as well as the bookish moments. There are some oddly humorous moments in this part, but it is a bit bittersweet. There is a lot of healing with this part, with Ruby kind of dealing with what happened with Travis (not much though because he is barely mentioned), but also Ruby's mother healing from what happened with Ruby's father, and Ruby and her mother getting back on soild ground together. Of course, love is involved in this part to, but it was a sweeter love than what Ruby had with Travis and I liked how these two types of love were shown, with very different age groups. I also liked that there was not a major romantic focus for Ruby because it felt more realistic.

Overall, I did like this book. While the storylines felt a bit separate for me and some parts went by too quickly, I loved the writing in this book. I will likely be reading more from Deb Caletti in the future.

I hereby give this book
3.5 Stars
Meaning: I liked it, but it wasn't quite amazing.

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