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Deb Caletti’s Honey, Baby, Sweetheart

February 12, 2010
Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti
published by Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing May 4, 2004

Sixteen-year-old Ruby and her brother Chip Jr. can’t stand the hold their father, Chip, has on their mom. Even though Chip left the family many years ago to seek his fortune in the music business — ending up with a standing gig in a kitschy theme park — Mom has never gotten over him. In her everyday life, she is a capable librarian and hard-working single mom. But when Chip arrives, she acts like a mindless, infatuated kid.

Ruby can clearly see that her mother is stuck in a bad situation. But that doesn’t stop her from falling for “bad boy” Travis Becker who has a penchant for pulling dangerous stunts. Travis looks at Ruby, who has always been quiet and reliable, and reinvents her as someone fearless — even reckless, and Ruby goes along for the ride.

Mom tries to help Ruby break her addiction to Chip by taking her to meeting of the Casserole Queens — a geriatric book club. The “Queens” are colorful and quirky, and one of them has a passionate romantic story of her own — one that is still unfolding as she reaches the end of her life.

Watching Ruby’s relationship with Travis is like being glued to one of those cheesy horror movies where you cringe as you watch the girl walking into the basement. No! No! Don’t go down there! Whatever you do, don’t go in the basement! I didn’t find the chemistry between Ruby and Travis all that compelling, and I had trouble understanding the attraction. Let’s face it, no matter how hot a guy is, there needs to be a bit of substance or complexity. If Travis had this, I missed it. And Egads, he was obnoxious.

The more intriguing story, for me, was Ruby’s relationship with her flawed but devoted mom, who is helping Ruby navigate adolescence while doing a lot of growing up herself. I also loved Chip Jr., Ruby’s quirky and insightful brother. And I thoroughly enjoyed the saga of the Casserole Queens.

Deb Caletti writes beautifully, illuminating a bright teen’s insight into the world with clever, vivid language. In this novel, her witty insights and intriguing metaphors seemed a bit heavy handed at times. At those moments, it felt a bit as if the writer got in the way of the story. It’s kind of like that moment in Oz when everyone has looked away from the illusion and sees the man behind the curtain, pulling strings and levers. (And speaking of getting heavy handed with metaphors … guilty! :-D) But overall, I thought it was very well done.

Honey, Baby, Sweetheart was an enjoyable story, with characters, language and dialogue worth savoring, but I didn’t think it was one of this author’s best works. I do feel that, along with The Secret Life of Prince Charming, this would be a wonderful springboard for discussion among teens, or between moms and daughters, of what constitutes genuine love — and the ingredients of a healthy relationship. These questions are an all-consuming part of adolescence, and they continue to linger at every stage of life.

Some Other Novels By This Author:
The Secret Life of Prince Charming
The Nature of Jade
Wild Roses

Read More Reviews:
The Ravenous Reader
Not Acting My Age
Laurel’s Leaves
Did I Miss Yours???


2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 3, 2012 7:30 am I’m loving this. You have to keep doing a good job as you have.


  1. Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti « Chachic's Book Nook

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