From that time on, the world was hers for the reading....

Sunday, July 12, 2009

E. Lockhart: The Boyfriend List

Despite a massive storm that had the lights flickering all night long, I was able to finish The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart.


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.

Ruby goes from having a boyfriend, laughing with good friends, and being somewhat well-liked to being a social leper. In just ten days!

She responds by having panic attacks.

Her parents respond by sending her to a shrink.

Ruby's shrink tells her to make a list of all the "boyfriends, kind-of boyfriends, almost-boyfriends, rumored boyfriends, and wished-he-were boyfriends" she's ever had.

Each boy on the list helps Ruby see how she treats people, how they treat her, and, more importantly, how she got to where she is today. And, at the end, while Ruby certainly didn't deserve to be treated so poorly by the people in her life, the list helps her see how her words and actions, even her home life, played a part in her ultimate fate.

E. Lockhart picked a clever way to tell a story of the high school hierarchy and the world of teen dating, which-- thank God-- I'm not a part of anymore. As I read the book, I saw my friends and boyfriends. I also saw myself.

It's a book about taking responsibility for the way we treat people, but also how we treat ourselves. While she doesn't live happily ever after, you get the feeling Ruby is coping, learning, and growing.

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