What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones
Simon & Schuster, 304 pages
My name is Robin.
This book is about me.
It tells the story of what happens
when after almost 15 pathetic years of loserdom,
the girl of my dreams finally falls for me.
That seems like it would be
a good thing, right?
Only it turns out to be
a lot more complicated than that
Because I’m not gonna lie to you —
there are naked women involved.
Four of them, to be exact.
Though not in the way you might think.
Don’t get me wrong — my girlfriend’s amazing.
But the way things have been going lately,
I’m starting to believe that the only thing worse
than not getting what you want,
is getting it.
I like reading novels in verse when I feel like I’m reading too slow, like how I have been doing lately. I figured reading this book right after I finish the chunkster that is Jane Eyre would help me cleanse the palate a bit and make me feel better because I read a book a bit faster than how I am currently doing. That’s probably just me, though, so don’t mind me with that quirk.
What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones is the sequel to What My Mother Doesn’t Know, another novel in verse that I read and liked last year. Spoiler warning for the first novel starts here. This book is Robin’s story — Robin, the art geek who Sophie falls for at the end of the first book. Robin has always had a crush on Sophie, but he never thought she’d fall for him, until she does. He was ecstatic, of course, until he realizes that Sophie being his girlfriend wouldn’t change his life as much as him being Sophie’s boyfriend rocked her world — in a not so good way. Here the book tries to answer a question that fairy tales with their happily-ever-after’s don’t really get to answer: what happens next?
What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know is both cute and painful. I know that’s a strange combination, but really, those are the two things I thought of while reading it. Robin is a cute narrator, sounding exactly like how I imagined a teenage guy would sound, with all the hormones and insecurities and girls and all that. He’s a good guy, really, but again, he’s also a guy, and the reactions and comments he had here with Sophie and their relationship, and yes, the naked women (with no scrub tops) were very…well, boyish. Robin is not just the art geek who fits the mythological perfect guy who never makes mistakes or never looks at other girls or women — he’s human, but he’s trying his best to be the best person he can be for his girlfriend, even if she doesn’t know so many things about what he’s going through.
And that’s the painful part. Robin and Sophie’s relationship isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Sophie’s reputation suffered because of Robin, and it was painful for Robin to see and hear the things people say about her because of him. I felt their pain, too, and it was just…sad because it wasn’t supposed to be that way. And it was messy, too, because Robin felt that it was all his fault, when really, it’s not. What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know showed that life goes on after the fairy tales end, and it’s not always “happily” ever after.
A favorite passage that pretty much summarizes the happiness and paint that I felt while reading this:
if we can just laugh
instead of shattering,
we can somehow
keep all of it
What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know is cute and fun and sometimes painful, but it’s a very quick and readable novel in verse. I’d recommend reading What My Mother Doesn’t Know first before getting into this so you’d appreciate this more. This is a very teenage novel, though, so don’t expect deep, life changing, earth-shattering revelations to come to you while reading it. If anything, this book gave me a reason to look back at my own high school years with a smile, and then sigh with relief and say, “Thank goodness I’m over that already.”
My copy: paperback, birthday gift from Grace
Reviews of other Sonya Sones’ books:
What My Mother Doesn’t Know