Series: Ruby Oliver
Author: E Lockhart
Books in Series: The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book, The Treasure Map of Boys, Real Live Boyfriends
What’s it all about?
Ruby Oliver is fifteen and has a shrink. But before you make up your mind about her, you should know that she has had a pretty awful (and eventful) past ten days. She has: lost her boyfriend (#13 on the boyfriend list), lost her best friend, lost all her other friends, 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, failed a math test, hurt Meghan's feelings, became a social outcast, and had graffiti written about her in the girls' bathroom. But don't worry, Ruby lives to tell the tale. Through a special assignment to list all the boys she's ever had the slightest, little, any-kind-of-anything with, comes an unfortunate series of events that would be enough to send any girl in a panic.
The Boyfriend List
I first read the first two books in this series when they were originally published in the UK back in 2007-ish but the last two never made it over here. Hearing that the whole series is being re-released by Hot Key Books this summer made my day!
I was a tad worried that I wouldn’t like Ruby as much, but I worried for nothing – The Boyfriend List was just as brilliant at 24 as it was at 14/15! I'd forgotten about the footnotes that pepper Ruby’s story, but I love them. Sometimes they can be annoying, but they worked brilliantly well in Roo’s story. This must have been one of the first times I ever encountered anxiety and panic attacks in YA and I love how it’s handled – with humour, normalcy and positivity. Ruby’s misadventures are hilarious and charming and I’m so looking forward to getting back to her already.
Btw, Team Noel. 100%.
The Boy Book
When The Boy Book kicks off Roo has a total of two friends, but she does have a cool job at the zoo and a driver’s license.
At the beginning of every chapter we get an excerpt from The Boy Book and Ruby’s serious skill at relating moments in her life to movies throughout. I felt like I really started remembering so many of things I'd forgotten about Roo in the many years since reading these for the first time and I just feel head over heels for her again: her encyclopaedic movie knowledge, her love of mystery novels and vintage clothes, her tendency to treat animals like people and her capability for serious ridiculousness. I love her.
Still Team Noel.
The Treasure Map of Boys
Oh, Noel, you have SO let me down.
We get a hefty dose of boy and friend problems in Roo’s third adventure, and a whole lot of changing allegiance on my part. A lot of The Boy Book was about the natural changing of friendship groups as you get older and that continued into The Treasure Map of Boys.
I thought that I liked Nora. She came back to Roo, even though she had a little wobble, and stayed loyal, but in this book we realised how wrong we were about her. She’s just as selfish as Roo is (hello, teenagers) and she doesn’t really understand Roo at all. Plus she was totally unfair with the Noel debacle and I think Roo’s better off without her. And maybe even Noel too. He had so much promise, but he really let himself down by not trusting Roo and buying into the gossip and Roo’s ‘reputation’. In sweeps Hutch. Could I be switching my allegiance…
(I am so glad Roo finally told Jackson where to go in The Treasure Map of Boys. It was a long time coming and I genuinely cheered out loud as Roo finally realised what a jerk he is.)
Real Live Boyfriends
It’s Ruby’s senior year. Her and Noel are thoroughly in love, she’s got solid ways of preventing her panic attacks and it all seems to be going well. Until her grandmother dies, sending her dad into a spiral; her mum gets crazier than usual and after a trip to NYC, Noel seems to have lost interest. Life is never quiet for Ruby.
Real Live Boyfriends definitely took a more serious turn that the previous books, but it still kept the humour and charm I've come to love and expect from this series. And in the background there was always boy drama, but for the first time I felt like Roo actually knew what she wanted and what she deserved from the boys in her life which was a bit of a revelation. She's still 100% Ruby, but she grew up a lot in this final instalment.
Watching her explore the questions of love, friendship and popularity that she's struggled with during the whole series through the documentary she as making for her college applications really showed that off and it even made me feel a bit emosh.
I loved this series even more the second time around than I did the first and I’m so happy Hot Key Books have reprinted them all so I finally got to see Ruby’s story through to the end. It’s fun, charming, silly and also has a surprising amount of depth. I'd recommend it to every fan of contemporary YA – brilliant.