Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Boyfriend List [Review]

Title: The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
Series: Ruby Oliver, #1
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
What They Say:
Ruby Oliver is 15 and has a shrink. She knows it’s unusual, but give her a break—she’s had a rough 10 days. In the past 10 days 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),
drank her first beer (someone handed it to her),
got caught by her mom (ag!),
had a panic attack (scary),
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)
and 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.

What I Say:
I have been wanting to start reading this series ever since I finished The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks and decided that E. Lockhart is kind of umm awesome. This book has houseboats, misadventures, and overpriveleged prep-school kids. That said:

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Plot: ooh
So yeah, Ruby Oliver has a shrink. A shrink who asks her to write a list of all the boys in her life. It's fifteen boys long - which, yeah, makes her look like a slut - but it's not like that! Some of these are boys who she only ever talked to, some are boys she just watched from afar and (well, that's not making it look much better, is it?) Talking through the Boyfriend List is supposed to be helping Roo get to the source of her recent panic attacks in the wake of being dumped by her boyfriend, who then took up with her best friend, but this List just seems to be making things worse! The lives of teenage girls are so complicated and embarrassing!

I'll admit, that's not a very good synopsis of this book, haha. It's hard to summarize, mainly because the book is linear is some ways and cyclical in others. The linear story is about Ruby's sessions with her shrink, but each boy gets his own story within that story, and sometimes there's another story that's not exactly related to one of the boys, but finds its way in there too. (Phew.) Despite how hard it is to sum up in 5-10 sentences, I greatly appreciated the way Lockhart told this story. While I've liked how teenagers are genuinely portrayed in some of my other reviews, I was especially impressed by how genuine Ruby's voice is for a teenager and a human being. It starts on one subject, then peters out into stream of consciousness, then refocuses around some new plot point, adding side-commentary in the form of sporadic footnotes, and sometimes forgets about the original subject altogether. Ruby's narrative is one of the few I've read that truly gives me the feeling of seeing into someone's mind.

Characters: ooh
Despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that I liked Ruby so much, the other characters ranged from blah-to obnoxious in comparison. Except Ruby's sort-of-friend Noel, but he's only in there 20 pages tops. Ruby is funny, at times immature, but also capable of self-reflection and admission of (but not angsting over) her flaws. Her friends seem silly and shallow, her boyfriend is only very cool sometimes, and her parents need shrinks more than she does. Oh wait! No wonder I felt that way about all the other characters? That was the author's intention? (And this, dear reader, is why E. Lockhart is so great.)

Realtionships: ooh
Ruby and Jackson -  For all those boys on her list, Jackson is the only real boyfriend out of the bunch. Because this relationship is over from page one, and it's all told in flashback, I didn't get my hopes up for a quickie get-back-together on the last page (though Ruby certainly did). Lockhart teaches the reader a lesson in disillusionment through Ruby, who thinks Jackson hung the moon even after he dumps her, only to slowly begin to see his faults and finally discover the truth about what kind of guy he is. Buuut, because this is a series, I can't totally write these two off.

Ruby and Noel - So, Noel is the boy in Ruby's art class who is sort of amazing in general. I'm crossing my fingers for these two in the next books, even though there's been like zero foreshadowing on that, and I'm probably just being silly. He's sooo cool, though.

Special Features: ooh
Other than Gail Giles's Right Behind You, this is the only book I've read told mostly through the protag's sessions with a shrink. There's something different about a book in which the audience has been replaced by a single person, or idea of a person. I wonder if the rest of the series will stick with this format or switch it up. We shall see.

Parting Quotes:
I got a lecture about behavior and how if we wanted boys to be gentlemen we should act like ladies, which was idiotic because we didn't want the boys to be gentlemen. We wanted them to think we were pretty and ask us to dance and hold our hands and maybe kiss us in the corner and then send us clever instant messages.
Ruby Oliver: just like you!

1 comment:

  1. Ahhh! I'm so glad I stumbled onto your blog! It's clear to me you have great taste in books, because I agree with all of your ratings and comments.
    (And I clearly think highly of myself!) Your comments are insightful and honest. Looking forward to future posts. Love it! :)