posted at Tuesday, December 11th, 2012 at 5:52 AM | Reviews, Young Adult
Series: Ruby Oliver #1
Published by Delacorte BFYR on March 22, 2005
Genres: Contemporary, Humor, Romance
E. Lockhart’s spot-on dialogue and descriptions of painfully but hilariously relatable situations make this young adult novel an addictive read.
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
But don't worry—Ruby lives to tell the tale. And make more lists.
First Sentence: “Before anyone reading this thinks to call me a slut—or even imagines that I’m incredibly popular—let me point out that this list includes absolutely every single boy I have ever had the slightest little any-kind-of-anything with.”
When I started reading this, I added it on Goodreads and sort of scrolled through reviews, not reading them but eyeing the ratings. For most books, my friends reach a sort of general consensus; with The Boyfriend List, the ratings varied from one star to five. Thankfully, I fell on the higher end of the spectrum, a relief since I just bought the complete series in a fit of no will power.
The variety in opinions on this book makes perfect sense, though. How you feel about The Boyfriend List will likely have a direct correlation to how you feel about the MC, Ruby Oliver. Ruby has a very distinct way of expressing herself and somewhat controversial opinions. If she annoys you, the book will be utter hell. However, if you think she’s hilarious and makes good points and maybe reminds you of your high school self, you’ll think she and this book are the best ever.
Though I did not personally identify with Ruby, I did think that she was funny most of the time, with occasional forays into whininess or melodrama, though these fit her personality and her situation perfectly. The Boyfriend List revolves around a series of panic attacks Ruby had, leading her parents to send her to a therapist. Her therapist asked her to draw up a list of boys for them to discuss. Thus the list was born, ultimately with some Harriet the Spy kind of consequences.
What Lockhart got just right is the teenage drama. Ruby feels so much like a teenage girl, with her own misconceptions, weird slang and inability to deal with being a social outcast. Having a boyfriend matters so much. Her own world matters so much, and she has a lot of trouble seeing past her own issues. Her parents fight all the time, but she can’t really see that until therapy, and the same goes for her friends’ issues too. Ruby has blinders on, and it’s wonderful to watch her gain new perspective on the world in her conversations with her shrink.
The romantic drama herein depicted may seem a bit like the absurdity of Gossip Girl or Glee, where the same twelve characters keep swapping boyfriends in an endless spiral of jealousy, betrayal and infidelity. However, Tate, Ruby’s school, is this tiny prep school full of rich kids (except for Ruby, who’s on scholarship); there just aren’t that many fish in the dating pool. I went to a very small college, and one guy dated three girls out of the twelve on my freshman hall, so that kind of stuff does happen, though there was no drama with our instance. They’re stuck in a small school with lots of hormones and not many people with whom to exercise them.
The other awesome thing about Ruby Oliver is that it’s not romanticizing teens or trying to depict them as innocent or sex as awful. Ruby discusses sex openly and with overt fascination. She and her friends discuss boys and all of their exploits and that’s just so much how life goes down; we all share the details with our best friends.
Now, this really does not affect my opinion of the novel or mean anything to those who have not read this book, but I still need to get this off my chest: Kim and Jackson are major d-bags. Jackson especially. He’s a serial boyfriend, dumping one girl and immediately lining up the next (or already having her waiting). Kim may be a big proponent of “The Rules,” and, yes, Ruby broke them too, but Kim stepped out of line first. She can talk about fate or how it only just happened all she wanted, but she is lying. Ruby needs to get those two awful people out of her heart entirely and out of her life as much as is possible at Tate.
The Boyfriend List is a humorous, sassy contemporary, sure to delight those who delight in misadventure, pop culture references, and romantic drama.
“Basically, it was like going to the dentist. Something unpleasant was happening around my mouth, someone else’s face was too close to mine, and the best thing to do was to shut my eyes, breathe through my nose and think about something else.”