Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rachel Rambles about the Ruby Oliver Novels

The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
From Goodreads:
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.

And look! There are three companion novels to The Boyfriend List!

When I sat down to read The Boyfriend List, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. It seemed like a light and fun book with cute boys that was light and fun and cute. I didn't think the book would really be anything special, just a quick read that I'd forget about soon after turning the last page.

Um, no. This book is so much more than that.

As soon as I started reading, I could not put the book down. Seriously. This is basically what happened:

Me: Oh, I'll just read a few pages to see if I like it. I'll start my homework in ten minutes.
Me, about four hours later: *finishes book* Wait... I just started... How did that happen?!?!

Needless to say, my homework did not get done that night. :D

I immediately went online to request the companion novels from the library, then proceeded to devour all three of them in 48 hours.

Because really. These books are AMAZING. And since Ruby is so fond of making lists, I thought I'd make a list of the reasons why I love these books:

1. Ruby. She is quirky and hilarious and smart and awkward. I love being inside her head and seeing the world from her point of view. In fact, I think she is my new favorite protagonist of all time.

2. The unique writing style. Throughout the books, there are footnotes on many of the pages, where Ruby frequently goes off on tangents that could not fit within the paragraphs of the novel. She also makes a lot of lists and journal entries and notes, which is a great way to understand her personality.

3. The characters. Whether I love them or hate them, the characters are all very well developed and realistic. Somehow, E. Lockhart manages to give every single character lots of layers, which makes them seem so real. All the characters have both strengths and weaknesses, good qualities and bad qualities. 

4. The boys. There are A LOT of boys in these books, and the relationships Ruby has with them are complicated and messy and funny and terrible. None of the boys are perfect, but none of them are all bad either. LAYERS, PEOPLE! THEY ALL HAVE SO MANY LAYERS! The boys rotate around throughout the series. The boy who was center stage in book one shifted into a background character just floating around on the sidelines in book four. Some of them are really cute, some of them are...not. They all have something in common, though: I wanted to slap each and every one of them at one point or another. :)

5. The humor. Ruby gets herself into a lot of terrible situations that only teenagers can get themselves into. There were some parts where I couldn't help cringing, as I was just so embarrassed and humiliated for Ruby. But Ruby is never fully miserable. She always has a funny way to say things that make me laugh out loud on pretty much every page. Even when she's miserable, her sarcasm makes the book absolutely hilarious.

6. The realistic portrayal of what being a teenager is like. Ruby's life is a perfect example of how much being a teenager sucks. She has to deal with problems with friends and relationships and love and school and rumors and dances and weird families and jobs and money and panic attacks and therapy. And it's terrible, but it is extremely accurate. E. Lockhart does not try to sugarcoat what teenagers go through on a daily basis, and I love her for that.

7. The timeline. These books aren't told in chronological order. They jump around a lot, gradually uncovering details about Ruby's life. The story can go from present to past without a lot of warning, moving from what's happening now to what happened a few days or weeks ago. It was a little confusing at first, but I grew to love it.

8. The characters. I know, I already said this. But I have to say it again, because the characters in these books are really important to me. I feel like I've connected with them, like I actually know them. I just can't get these people out of my head.

9. The journey. Just when Ruby thinks things can't get any worse, another bad thing happens. Then, when she thinks she must be at her lowest, ANOTHER BAD THING HAPPENS. She starts pretty high up on the social chain, but quickly plummets to the bottom. She then has to try to work her way up again and make new friends and a new life for herself. Ruby goes on quite a journey throughout this series, and I feel like I was right there beside her the whole time.

As a fifteen-year-old who's so close to being done with freshman year of high school, I am so glad I found these books. I think Ruby's shenanigans will entertain me and offer me guidance in the next few years.   

The Ruby Oliver novels are some of my new favorite books, and I'll definitely be rereading them many times in the future.



  1. Have you read THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU BANKS? It's the only E. Lockhart book I've read as of yet, but I really liked Frankie and you make these ones sound like a lot of fun. I'm starting to let go of the myth in my head that I'm not that into YA contemporary stuff--I've been having a lot of good luck with it lately.

    1. No, I haven't read it yet! I really want to though. I'll definitely get it from the library soon.
      I've always been a really big fan of YA contemporary. It started a few years ago when I read my first Sarah Dessen book, and now it's become my favorite genre. :)

  2. You just made me even MORE excited to read this books. I didn't even think that was possible! I may have to pick up a copy of the first one the next time I'm at the book store because I have a feeling these are books I'm going to want to own :]