Ruby Oliver, the smart, neurotic heroine from The Boyfriend List, is now 16 and a junior scholarship student at Tate Prep. She's still in therapy, and still trying to cope with losing her boyfriend to her best friend plus her new social standing as a "certifiable leper." Through sessions with Dr. Z and spending time with "The Boy Book" (a "Study of Habits and Behaviors, Plus Techniques for Taming Them" this also serves as the novel's subtitle), which she wrote with Kim, Nora and another friend, Ruby begins to process what happened. She builds a new circle of friends, even rekindling her friendship with Nora. But she faces tests along the way: Ruby's ex leaves her flirty notes, even though he is with Kim; she has a panic attack after a confrontation with Kim; and she must decide what to do when the great guy that Nora likes tells Ruby he wants to kiss her. Each chapter begins with an excerpt from "The Boy Book," which is hilarious, and sometimes rather racy (e.g., "What to Wear When You Might Be Fooling Around" advises a "shirt that buttons up the front, for obvious reasons"). The book not only covers topics teens obsess over, but it helps illustrate the connection Ruby had with her friends, especially Kim, and what a loss she has suffered. Ruby's overanalytical, fast-paced and authentic narration will win over new devotees, while her loyal fans will no doubt hope for more. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Amie Rose Rotruck
When Ruby Oliver begins her junior year, her social life leaves a lot to be desired. A boyfriend mishap the previous year has left her with few friends and the reputation of being a slut. She finds herself referring to "The Boy Book," a notebook she and her friends put together about the behavior of boys and how to deal with them. As Roo tries to maneuver through the minefield of high school, she also gets a job at the zoo, fools around with a longtime family friend, and sees a shrink about her anxiety attacks. She also finds herself trying to figure out feelings for not just one, but three boys, not to mention her old girlfriends. E. Lockhart has created a truly entertaining heroine in Ruby Oliver. Sometimes intelligent, sometimes boy-crazy, always funny, Roo's adventures will keep the reader entertained until the very end. While the book appears to be stereotypical "chick lit" on the surface, Lockhart adds some plot elements that, while not the norm in literature, are very realistic for high school. This keeps the story funny without being absurd, and makes Roo a girl to whom many teenagers can relate.
Ruby Oliver is back from her adventures in The Boyfriend List (Delacorte, 2005/VOYA April 2005) and determined to make her junior year a better one. The good news is that she has a driver's license, a new friend in Noel, and Nora might actually be speaking to her again. The bad news is that several of her friends are still not speaking to her, her sessions with the shrink do not seem to be helping her much, and her parents are certain that there are deeper issues that she needs to explore. Ruby is a resilient young woman, however. Her new job at the zoo, her deepening friendship with Meghan and Nora, and her entries in the book that she is writing about boys all help her navigate the angst-ridden waters of adolescence. Lockhart achieves the perfect balance of self-deprecating humor and self-pity in Ruby, and thus imbues her with such realism that she seems almost to fly off the page. There are no easy answers here for teens who are in the midst of crises about friends and relationships. Instead Lockhart offers Ruby's triumphs and downfalls for readers to ponder on their own. What does it mean to be a good friend? How do you deal with a boy who might be more than a friend? Do not ask Ruby for advice but encourage girls to read about Ruby to see how tough it is sometimes to resolve these and other issues. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Delacorte, 208p., and PLB Ages 15 to 18.
Teri S. Lesesne
In this sequel to The Boyfriend List, Lockhart continues to expertly capture the sentiments and voice of a teenage girl. Main character Ruby Oliver narrates the sweet story of her junior year of high school, covering all the major topics in the process. She deals with avoiding ex-boyfriends, making new friends, fighting with old friends, and coping with parents. Between all this, Ruby makes time to visit her psychologist, which provides the reader with a bit of catch-up and another view on her life. Wholesome and generally cheerful, Ruby is easy to relate to, making her an ideal heroine. She's self-analytical, which works to her advantage, and her conflicts are universal and important without being earth shattering, making this novel a pleasurable read. KLIATT Codes: J--Recommended for junior high school students. 2006, Random House, Delacorte, 208p., $15.95 and $17.99. Ages 12 to 15.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Ruby, first introduced in The Boyfriend List (Delacorte, 2005), continues to narrate the events in her life at Tate Prep. Interspersed throughout the story are excerpts from The Boy Book: A Study of Habits and Behaviors, Plus Techniques for Taming Them, a journal written by the teen and her friends in years past. Ruby is now in her junior year and discovering that there is life after a boyfriend breakup and the loss of previous friends for not following "The Rules for Dating." She discovers that she can make new friends, reconnect with some of her old ones, and simply accept that some people are lost forever. She continues therapy with Dr. Z. and gains control over her panic attacks. The story is both humorous and witty, and the language is realistically raw. Sections such as "The Care and Ownership of Boobs" are particularly funny. Teens will relate to the situations that Ruby finds herself in and learn from her skills about how to cope with the "minefield" of crises that today's teens face.-Sheilah Kosco, Bastrop Public Library, TX Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Shunned by her friends and ignored by her ex, Ruby Oliver experiences a rough junior year as she deals with fallout from her previous adventure in The Boyfriend List (2005), when she kissed her best friend's boyfriend-a definite infraction of The Boy Book's rules. The Boy Book, written by Ruby and her four ex-friends in sunnier times, is their quirky, funny and mostly chaste observations of boys and relationship rules. Snippets from the girls' writings open and structure each chapter as Ruby strives to shake her "leper" status, but also provide a sincere account of their friendships and perceptions of sexuality. As the second Ruby Oliver installment, new readers may feel slightly off balance as they grapple with understanding and defining Ruby's character, since Lockhart doesn't dwell on details presented earlier. Yet Ruby's lack of definition rings true as her character's strength stems from her earnest search for identity through introspection, sexual experimentation, therapy and the formation and rehabbing of new and old friendships. Refreshingly honest. (Fiction. YA)
Read an Excerpt
The Care and Ownership of Boobs
(a subject important to our study of the male humanoid animal because the boobs, if deployed properly, are like giant boy magnets attached to your chest.
Or smallish boy magnets. Or medium.
Depending on your endowment.
But boy magnets. That is the point.
They are magnets, we say. Magnets!)
1.If you jiggle, wear a bra. This means you. (Yes, you.) It is not antifeminist. It is more comfy and keeps the boobs from getting floppy.
2.No matter how puny your frontal equipment, don’t wear the kind with the giant pads inside. If a guy squeezes them, he will wonder why they feel like Nerf balls instead of boobs. And if you forget and wear a normal bra one day, everyone will then speculate on the strange expanding and contracting nature of your boobage. (Reference: the mysteriously changing chestal profile of Madame Long, French teacher and sometime bra padder.)
3.A helpful hint: For optimal shape, go in the bathroom stall and hike them up inside the bra.
4.Do not perform the above maneuver in public, no matter how urgent you think it is.
5.Do not go topless in anyone’s hot tub. Remember how Cricket had to press her chest against the side of the Van Deusens’ tub for forty-five minutes when Gideon and his friends came home? Let that be a lesson to you. (Yes, you.)
6.Do not sunbathe topless either, unless you’re completely ready to have sunburnt boobs whose skin will never be the same again (Reference: Roo, even though she swears she used sunblock) or unless you want to be yelled at by your mother for exposing yourself to the neighbors (Reference: Kim, even though really, no one saw and the neighbors were away on vacation).
—from The Boy Book: A Study of Habits and Behaviors, Plus Techniques for Taming Them (A Kanga-Roo Production), written by me, Ruby Oliver, with number six added in Kim’s handwriting. Approximate date: summer after freshman year.
The week before junior year began, the Doctors Yamamoto threw a ginormous going-away party for my ex-friend Kim.
I didn’t go.
She is my ex-friend. Not my friend.
Kim Yamamoto was leaving to spend a semester at a school in Tokyo, on an exchange program. She speaks fluent Japanese.
Her house has a big swimming pool, an even bigger yard, and a view of the Seattle skyline. On the eve of her going away, so I hear, her parents hired a sushi chef to come and chop up dead fish right in front of everyone, and the kids got hold of a few wine bottles. Supposedly, it was a great party.
I wouldn’t know.
I do know that the following acts of ridiculousness were perpetrated that night, after the adults got tired and went to bed around eleven.
1.Someone chundered behind the garden shed and never confessed. There were a number of possible suspects.
2.People had handstand contests and it turns out Shiv Neel can walk on his hands.
3.With the party winding down and all the guys inside the house watching Letterman, Katarina Dolgen, Heidi Sussman and Ariel Olivieri wiggled out of their clothes and went skinny-dipping.
4.Nora Van Deusen decided to go in, too. She must have had some wine to do something like that. She’s not usually a go-naked kind of girl.1
5.A group of guys came out onto the lawn and Nora’s boobs were floating on top of the water as she sat on the steps of the pool. Everyone could see them.
6.Shep Cabot, aka Cabbie, who squeezed my own relatively small boob last year with great expertise2 but who is otherwise a lame human being as far as I can tell, snapped a photo—or at least pretended he did. Facts unclear upon initial reportage.
7.Nora grabbed her boobs and ran squealing into the house in search of a towel. Which was a bad idea, because she wasn’t wearing anything except a pair of soggy blue panties. Cabbie snapped, or said he snapped, another photo. The rest of the girls stayed coyly in the pool until Nora, having got her wits together and wearing a pair of Kim’s sweatpants and a T-shirt, came out and brought them towels.
I know all this because no one was talking about anything else on the first day of school.
Nobody spoke to me directly, of course. Because although I used to be reasonably popular, thanks to the horrific debacles of sophomore year—in which I lost not only my then-boyfriend, Jackson, but also my then-friends Cricket, Kim and Nora—I was a certifiable leper with a slutty reputation.
Meghan Flack, who carpools me to school, was my only friend.
Last year, Meghan and her hot senior boyfriend, Bick, spent every waking minute together, annoying all the girls who would have liked to date Bick, and also all the guys who didn’t want to watch the two of them making out at the lunch table.
People hated Meghan. She was the girl you love to hate—not because she does anything mean or spiteful, but because she’s naturally gorgeous, extremely oblivious, and completely boy-oriented. Because she licks her lips when she talks to guys, and pouts cutely, and all the guys stare at her like they can’t pull their eyes away.
But I don’t hate her now. She doesn’t even bug me anymore. And she was lost on the first day of school junior year, because Bick had left for Harvard the week before.
So Meghan and I were standing in front of the mail cubbies when we heard a crew of newly minted senior girls discussing Kim’s party and what happened. Then we heard more from the guys who sat behind us in American Literature, and then from a girl who is on the swim team with me. By the end of first period it was clear that Nora’s boobs were going to be the major focus of nearly every conversation for the rest of the day.
Because Nora is stacked.
She is just not a small girl.
2 Yes, only one boob. Long story.
1 Nora was the only one of my old foursome (her, me, Cricket and Kim) who had never yet experienced some social or bodily horror related to taking her top off. See The Boy Book entry, above.
From the Hardcover edition.