Study Guide

Mona in There Is No Dog

By Meg Rosoff


If you have any warm feelings towards your mom at all, go give her a hug right now—or call her, or, hey, just sent the poor woman a text message, because you sure are lucky that she's not Mona.

Worst. Mom. Ever.

We have a creeping suspicion that Rosoff has watched as many episodes of the British comedy show Absolutely Fabulous as we have, because Mona is basically intergalactic version of the utterly incapable mother in that series.
She's beautiful. She wears dresses made out of seaweed, stamps, and doilies. She drinks gin, plays poker, and gets drunk.

Okay, not great, but not really a reason to call Social Services. But wait—it gets worse. Look at this list of sins:

"Many years ago, a bet had led her to marry off one of her daughters to a vast shapeless draw-hole of infinite gravity who had (understandably, Mona thought at the time) been finding it difficult to establish a permanent relationship. […] It was another bet that landed a rather sweet ex-boyfriend in eternal slavery at the far reaches of Cygnus A." (34.28)

So, not only does she marry off her daughter to what appears to be a black hole, she's not a great girlfriend, either.

No wonder Bob is so self-centered. When Mona gambles away the Eck, she doesn't even feel bad about it:

And, really. How much did an Eck matter anyway? Hardly at all, as far as Bob was concerned. She herself felt that the extinction of the Ecks would sadden no one but other Ecks, of which there would be none. Problem solved! Perhaps the time for self-recrimination was past. If Hed wanted the last of the Ecks as a meal, she supposed it was his prerogative. (14.23)

That is some Olympic-level rationalization, there. In only a few sentences the death of a creature went from being her fault to someone else's problem. No wonder Bob can't be bothered to turn off his bath water.

Holy Mona, Mother of Bob

That's why we're a little surprised—and a little suspicious—when, midway through the novel Mona has a change of heart and decides she wants to be a real mom. When Mr. B says that he is going to leave, she suddenly realizes that her son has got to clean up his act. So, she starts making a list.

"Well," she said, pulling out a small notepad, "I shall certainly put my mind to the Bob problem. Just remind me what's required? Let's see. One: Make Bob a better God. Two: Get him to stop playing with mortals. Three: No more floods, rain, natural disasters, etc., etc., and four . . .No et-Pay for inner-Day." (20.36)

And she actually does it! Well, kinda sorta. She starts by getting Bob to stop seeing Lucy, which, miracle of miracles, ends up leading to everything else. When she forbids him from seeing her, she even tells him:

"Darling," she began, and something in her tone made him pause. "I want you to be happy. I want it more than anything. And if I could pull some strings, or beg some higher power to allow you and Lucy to live happily ever after, I would. But it doesn't work like that, my darling." (36.29)

That sounds pretty spot-on motherly to us.

Unfortunately, we don't get long to appreciate this change of heart. Just a little while later, she's poofed away by Emoto Hed, never to be seen again.

Not Quite a Picture of Perfection

All right, but wait a minute. Why did Rosoff even decide to give Bob parents? Not to mention, why did she give him a mom and not a dad?

The only time that we think about the Christian God as having parents is when he's incarnate as the cute baby Jesus at Christmas. Then we just fast forward to when Jesus is all grown up and saving our souls. What about in between? We don't get to see Jesus's relationship with Mary during those awkward teen years. (If you want another take on that, check out Christopher Moore's Lamb).

Well, we think that Bob and Mona's highly dysfunctional mother-son relationship gives us another way to humanize God. God isn't perfect—and neither is his mom.

Yeah, that'll be comforting next time you get in an argument with your parents.