Title: Honey, Baby, Sweetheart
Author: Deb Caletti
I knew that after the heaviness of Love in the Time of Cholera, I needed something fluffy–“candy reading,” I call it. A pleasure book. Of course, even despite all that, I normally would never go for a YA book that had a cover like this; it just screams “adolescent angst” and brings up nightmarish thoughts of Twilight. But I’m a sucker for book lists, and as the shiny medal on the front cover indicates, this book was a National Book Award Finalist. So I bought it with some leftover Christmas money and cracked it open hours after finishing Cholera.
Honey, Baby, Sweetheart tells the story of 16-year-old Ruby McQueen, who has been dubbed as The Quiet One all her life–responsible, honest, and family-oriented. The story follows her as she embarks on her most adventurous summer yet–and all because she is suddenly thrown into the path of the dangerous, “bad boy” Travis Becker, one of the town’s richest and most mysterious teenagers. He has a motorcycle and a streak for danger, and Ruby starts to get sucked in more than she can handle. After Travis goes one step too far, Ruby’s mother tries to get her away from his influence by bringing her to the “Casserole Queens’ Book Club.” Soon, Ruby hardly has time to worry about her own love life when she discovers that one of the members of the book club is involved in a decades-old passionate love story that is the subject of the book club’s latest read and gets involved in the group’s elaborate plan to get the two lovers reunited again.
Things I liked about this book: 1) It was funny–I laughed out loud on numerous occasions. 2) It was fluffy, and required little to no brainpower. 3) It was easy to read, with a quick-moving plot. 4) I was the first one in the apartment to read it, so I didn’t have people whispering details about the plot in the corner…(ahem *cough* Hunger Games!)
Things I didn’t like: 1) The fact that there was little to no character development when it came to Travis Becker, who was one of the most important characters of the book. Caletti just leaned heavily on the bad boy stereotype and didn’t bother giving him any personality whatsoever. I thought he’d eventually reveal some quirk or even some human emotion beyond lust and/or whatever it is that “bad boys” feel, but I was grossly disappointed. 2) The formulaic plot–shy girl meets bad boy, then goes on a road trip to find herself. I think I’ve heard that one before…like 89 bazillion times. 3) The fact that no one else in the apartment had read it, so I can’t talk about it without feeling a guilt rush.
But it was entertaining, and it gave me that little smile that only comes from reading a happy ending (even if it is a slightly predictable happy ending). Line I liked from one of the final pages: “This is what I know: We are all a volume on the shelf of the Nine Mile Falls Library, a story unto ourselves, never possibly described with one word or even very accurately with thousands. A person is never as quiet or unrestrained as they seem, or as bad or as good, as vulnerable or as strong, as sweet or as feisty; we are thickly-layered, page lying upon page, behind simple covers. And love–it is not the book itself, but the binding. It can rip us apart or hold us together” (301). Ironic, though, that Caletti used more opposites and personality traits in this one page than in the entire rest of the book put together.
My Rating: 3 Stars.