There are several YA titles that came out when my daughter was first born that I missed out on and I have wanted to read for ages. I decided that I should probably do something about that rather than just thinking about it. I started with The Boyfriend List: 15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver by E. Lockhart. I read the much acclaimed The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by Lockhart and had mixed feelings overall, but liked the writing so much that I really wanted to give one of her other books a go. This one I enjoyed oh so much.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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.
Ruby tells the convoluted and twisty story of how all of the above happened resulting in panic attacks and visits to a shrink. Lockhart walked a fine line with Ruby making her unique and genuine at the same time. Ruby has a distinct voice and personality. She becomes an actual person you are listening to as her story unfolds. At the same time she is a character that I believe the majority of teen girls (or women who remember) can identify with. The scenarios that play out in her story play out in thousands of schools, homes, parties, and dances across the country every day. The realism that Lockhart brings to these situations, not overly dramatizing them and not minimizing the importance of them, make the whole easy to relate to. Ruby's story is not the worst thing that has ever happened to a person, but it's not fun. Yet the way she tells it gives it a light feel.
Despite it's mostly light tone the book does explore serious themes. There is a lot that the book very subtly says about the way girls look at and treat each other, the culture that has a double standard for the way girls behave and boys behave, and how much a teenage girl defines herself in terms of how she is viewed in the eyes of those around her. I appreciate this all the more for how light and entertaining the book is. Lockhart did this with a deft hand, it is there but it she is not whacking anyone over the head with it. I can think of many teens I know who would enjoy this book and get so much out of it. (Boys and girls.) I also think it is one that is beneficial for parents to read. Just to remember what it's like. It's so easy to forget.
I liked the way this wrapped up so much that I'm a little hesitant to pick up the other books in the series. Not because I didn't love this book, but because I did. I probably won't be able to resist though.