Book Review: Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti
One of the books I bought at this year’s PNWA Conference, was Deb Caletti’s Honey, Baby, Sweetheart. I met Deb Caletti there, and had a wonderful talk with her and her husband. Honey, Baby, Sweetheart was a National Book Award Finalist.
I’ll be the first to admit that this is not a book in the genre I typically read. It is Young Adult, but it’s more about emotion than about action. Ruby McQueen is a sixteen year old girl living in the fictional town of Nine Mile Falls, Washington, just across Lake Washington from Seattle. Ruby is the responsible daughter of a woman who was dumped by her musician husband years before. Ruby tries to hold the family together by being the one who makes all the smart decisions, but as summer begins, she meets Travis Becker, a rich boy with a wild streak that pulls her out of her comfort zone. That isn’t always a good thing.
In an effort to distract Ruby from her problems, Ruby’s mother bring her to her book club, where meets an eclectic gang of older readers. One of those readers has a history that leads Ruby, and the book club, into a road trip that will change them all.
Like I said, this isn’t a book I would normally read (because I’m a guy who likes SciFi and lasers), but I did enjoy it. Caletti’s style is one of noticing things – the little things. Her description isn’t flowery. It’s detailed and appropriate for the story and for the characters. You’d expect a girl who is as introspective as Ruby is to notice these little details, and to spend a great amount of time considering them. What I find a little funny, is that with this type of story, those are all good things. In the genre I write, these little things are the ones I have to edit out, because they slow down the action in YA intended for the teenage boy crowd. It just goes to show you that even within the YA Genre, there are intricacies of writing that involve knowing your audience, and knowing what is needed to keep their attention.
This is one of those books that even though I am not in the target audience, I can appreciate the writing style because of what it accomplishes. Caletti is an artist with description and emotion. I’d highly recommend this book to those who regularly read the YA Romance genre, or for anyone who wants to see how to do these little things right. My wife really liked this book, and has already read more of Deb Caletti’s books. I think that’s a pretty good sign.