The Boyfriend List: 15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver by E. Lockhart
Ruby Oliver # 1
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Number of pages: 229
My copy: paperback, bought from Fully Booked
Fifteen-year-old Ruby has had a rough ten days. During that time she:
* lost her boyfriend (#13 on the list)
* lost her best friend (Kim)
* lost all her other friends (Nora, Cricket)
* did something suspicious with a boy (#10)
* did something advanced with a boy (#15)
* had an argument with a boy (#14)
* had a panic attack
* lost a lacrosse game (she’s the goalie)
* failed a math test (she’ll make it up)
* hurt Meghan’s feelings (even though they aren’t really friends)
* became a social outcast (no one to sit with at lunch)
* had graffiti written about her in the girls’ bathroom (who knows what was in the boys’!?!)
But don’t worry—Ruby lives to tell the tale. And make more lists.
* * *
I’ve read about the Ruby Oliver series from other bloggers, and while it got me a tiny bit curious, it wasn’t enough for me to get them. When I finally read The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart, I thought it was such a smart read that I decided to pick up her other books. Ruby Oliver seemed the most popular and they were easily available so I picked one up. I started reading the first book in the series, The Boyfriend List, a few weeks ago when I switched from chick lit to contemporary YA for my NaNoWriMo 2011 novel, and it definitely hit just the right spot.
Ruby Oliver used to be popular, used to have a boyfriend and used to have best friends. That was ten days ago. Now, Ruby Oliver has no boyfriend, no friends, is a social outcast, has panic attacks and sees a shrink. And she’s only fifteen. What went wrong? With the help of her shrink, she comes up with The Boyfriend List: 15 guys that she had had a thing with, whether real or imaginary, as it seemed like the thing that started all of these things for Ruby. The question is: did the list help, or did it just make things worse?
The thing I noticed about E. Lockhart’s books is the realness of her protagonist’s voice. Ruby was as real as you can get from page one, and I immediately wanted to know what her story was. The story was as funny as the title and the blurb, and it was creatively written based on the list that was in the book. Plus the book had footnotes, almost like a Thursday Next book! I loved how the book was not told chronologically but still everything made sense and nothing was hard to connect. While the reading experience with Frankie had me laughing with amused disconnectedness (almost like a spectator), The Boyfriend List made me feel that I was a part of the story and that I was one of the few people that listened to Ruby at all. The writing was just as funny and clever as was in Frankie — maybe even funnier — but absolutely real.
This is far from a love story that the title implies, but more about Ruby’s journey with these fifteen boys and her best friends. The meat of the story was how Ruby’s boyfriend, Jackson, dumps her days before the Spring Fling, to date Ruby’s best friend from second grade, Kim. It’s easy to hate Kim and Jackson and her other friends for deserting her, but as the story goes on, we see that Ruby was just at fault, too. The Boyfriend List is a story with flawed characters that one can’t help but wish that things turn out well for all of them, most especially the heroine.
I won’t say much anymore because the book is really so much better read and experienced on your own than through a review. It’s only my second E. Lockhart book, but I am almost fully convinced that she’s a contemporary YA genius. Give me one more book of hers so I can be fully convinced (but I’m pretty sure I will be easily convinced). Someone give me The Boy Book this Christmas? :)