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About The Book

A summer romance headed for heartbreak turns into a mother-daughter road trip in the name of true love in this story of love, loss, and redemption from Printz Honor medal winner and National Book Award finalist Deb Caletti.

It is summer in the northwest town of Nine Mile Falls, and Ruby McQueen—ordinarily dubbed The Quiet Girl—finds herself hanging out with gorgeous, rich, thrill-seeking Travis Becker. With Travis, Ruby can be someone she’s never been before: Fearless. Powerful. But Ruby is in over her head, risking more and more when she’s with him.

In an effort to keep Ruby occupied and mend her own broken heart, her mother, Ann, drags Ruby to the weekly book club she runs for seniors. At first, Ruby can’t imagine a more boring way to spend an afternoon, but she is soon charmed by the women she’s spending time with. And when the group discovers one of their own members is the subject of the tragic love story they are reading, Ann and Ruby ditch their respective obsessions to spearhead a reunion between the long-ago lovers. They’re in search of a happy ending…but for who?

This lyrical, multigenerational story of love, loss, and redemption speaks to everyone who has ever been in love—and lived to tell the tale.

Reading Group Guide

A Simon Pulse Guide for Reading Groups
Honey, Baby, Sweetheart
By Deb Caletti
About The Book
Ruby McQueen has never had trouble being good-getting along with her family, doing well in school, and making good decisions. Which is why nobody is more surprised than she when bad boy Travis Becker sucks her into his world of privilege and lawlessness and she follows so willingly. But when Ruby does the unthinkable, she sets in motion a madcap multigenerational adventure, as those close to her do everything they can to save her from herself. Can one summer change what Ruby knows about true love, family, fate, and her own heart?
Discussion Questions
  • Ruby's involvement with Travis Becker is out of character for her, but she says, "It was about the way a moment, a single moment, could change things and make you decide to try to be someone different." What does Ruby feel is her pivotal moment? Do you agree? Who else in the story has moments like the one Ruby describes?
  • Travis believes that Ruby is fearless, and so she becomes that way around him. How much of our personalities is defined by how others see us? Does Ruby succeed in becoming truly fearless? On what do you think Travis is basing his vision of Ruby?
  • In what ways are Ruby and her mother similar when it comes to romantic relationships? In what ways are they different? What do they learn about romance over the course of the summer?
  • Discuss Ruby's relationship with Chip Jr. What role does Chip Jr. play in her life? What role does he play within the family as a whole?
  • How is Joe Davis different from Ruby's father? What does he bring to the McQueen family? How do his struggles with the church sign reflect his beliefs about spirituality?
  • How do the members of the Casserole Queens feel about Ruby? About each other? Why does Ruby enjoy her time with them so much?
  • Why is it so important to the Casserole Queens that Charles and Lillian be reunited? What does each member of the group contribute to the plan? What does each member gain from the reunion?
  • Ruby says that, had they known Lillian had so little time left, they would have hurried their trip along. Do you think this is true? What did they gain by taking their time on the way to meet Charles? Do you think that Lillian would have wanted them to hurry?
  • Why is Ruby so fascinated by the paragliders? What do they represent to her? Does anything else in her life make her feel this way?
  • Ruby says, "I guess for one summer, just one summer...I did have passion and adventure in my life." To which events do you think she is referring? Do you think that there was any adventure in her life before this summer? Do you think she will continue to have passion and adventure in her life?

  • Start your own book group, like the Casserole Queens. Invite all your friends, decide how often you would like to meet, and have someone bring snacks.
  • The story behind Lillian and Charles's relationship inspired the Casserole Queens to strike out on their adventure. What stories are hidden in your family tree? Interview your parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles about their lives. Write down this oral history and share it with other family members.
  • Look into volunteering at a nursing home or retirement community in your neighborhood.
  • Is there something in your life that you've been want- ing to learn-like Ruby and paragliding-that you could take up now? See if there's anywhere in your town you could take lessons.

This reading group guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing •

About The Author

Photograph © Susan Doupé

Deb Caletti is the award-winning and critically acclaimed author of over sixteen books for adults and young adults, including Honey, Baby, Sweetheart, a finalist for the National Book Award; A Heart in a Body in the World, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book; Girl, Unframed; and One Great Lie. Her books have also won the Josette Frank Award for Fiction, the Washington State Book Award, and numerous other state awards and honors, and she was a finalist for the PEN USA Award. She lives with her family in Seattle.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (August 23, 2011)
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781439115466
  • Grades: 7 and up
  • Ages: 12 - 99

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Raves and Reviews

"Readers will immediately fall for Ruby with her humor and her wry way of looking at the world.... A story full of heart, fun, and energy." -- School Library Journal, starred review

"Caletti explores the conflicting, complicated impulses of the human heart with polish and penetration." -- The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Caletti has the gift of voice and tells her story with humor, insight, and compassion." -- Kirkus Reviews

Awards and Honors

  • National Book Award Finalist
  • California Young Reader Medal Nominee
  • CCBC Choices (Cooperative Children's Book Council)
  • Kentucky Bluegrass Award Master List
  • ILA Children's Book Award Notable
  • PSLA Fiction List
  • Chicago Public Library's Best of the Best
  • Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award Master List
  • Texas Tayshas High School Reading List
  • Arizona Young Reader Book Award Nominee
  • NYPL Best Books for Teens
  • Florida Teens Read Master List
  • SSLI Book Award Honor Book
  • Pennsylvania School Librarian Association (PSLA) "Top Ten (Or So)" Young Adult Books
  • PEN USA Literary Award Finalist
  • SLJ Best Book of the Year
  • Buckeye Teen Book Award Nominee (OH)
  • Washington State Book Award Winner

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More books from this author: Deb Caletti