The Boyfriend List (Ruby Oliver Quartet Series #1)

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Overview

From E. Lockhart, author of the highly acclaimed, New York Times bestseller We Were Liars, which John Green called "utterly unforgettable," comes The Boyfriend List, the first book in the uproarious and heartwarming Ruby Oliver novels.

Ruby Oliver is 15 and has a shrink. She knows it’s unusual, ...

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The Boyfriend List (Ruby Oliver Quartet Series #1)

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Overview

From E. Lockhart, author of the highly acclaimed, New York Times bestseller We Were Liars, which John Green called "utterly unforgettable," comes The Boyfriend List, the first book in the uproarious and heartwarming Ruby Oliver novels.

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In hopes of discovering what is causing her panic attacks, Ruby makes a list of every boy with whom she has ever been involved. "Spot-on dialogue and details make this a painfully recognizable and addictive read," said PW in a starred review. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT
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.
—Joanna Solomon
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.
Kirkus Reviews
After being dumped by her boyfriend, rejected by her girlfriends and humiliated by her classmates, Ruby Oliver, a 15-year-old moderately popular girl turned pariah, reassesses her history and her actions. Ruby's tool for this task is her newly made compilation of "all the boyfriends, kind-of boyfriends, almost-boyfriends, rumored boyfriends and wished-he-were boyfriends" in her life. It's a clever gimmick and author Lockhart uses it as a prism through which Ruby, with help from her therapist, can view her life and herself. Slowly, Ruby and the reader begin to understand that she's not the total victim she appeared to be initially, and while she hardly deserved the cruelty that's been heaped upon her, she had a distinct hand in her fate. The issues Ruby deals with are serious, but the first-person narrative is amusing and the overall tone is light. Although the gimmick gets tedious and repetitious in spots, Lockhart shines at depicting the all-encompassing microcosm of school social life, and wisely eschews an unrealistically happy ending, instead offering hope and honest growth. (Fiction. 12-14)
From the Publisher
Praise for the boyfriend list:
 

• “Spot-on dialogue and details make this a painfully recognizable and addictive read.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred
 
“Lockhart shines at depicting the all-encompassing microcosm of school social life.”—Kirkus Reviews
 
“Lockhart has created a fun character in the spirit of Louise Rennison’s Georgia Nicholson and Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones….The snappy dialogue makes this story a winner.”—School Library Journal
 
“An ingenious way to look at one teenager’s life….The book is spectacular, with a well-constructed story and deep, emotional significance.”—The Romantic Times
 
“Breezy and genuine, with a tender understanding of who really walks the halls in America’s high schools. The Boyfriend List made me laugh and, yeah, I was kind of attracted to Kim.”—Ned Vizzini, author of It’s Kind of a Funny Story
 
The Boyfriend List is a wonderful comic exploration of the maddening (but hilarious) world of mothers and fathers, the gut-wrenching politics (and excitement) of multiple crushes, and the complications (and kinship) of friendship. Ruby Oliver is a winning girl (even if she doesn’t realize it) we’d all befriend in a heartbeat (as long as she doesn’t have her eyes on our guy).”—Jill A. Davis, author of Girls’ Poker Night
 
“Ruby Oliver’s list of boyfriends is a wonderful and tragic document of our times. I felt kind of bad for some of the guys on the list, but at the same time, while I read, I kept wishing I was on it.”—J. Minter, author of the Insiders series

An ALA Best Book for Young Adults

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385902380
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 3/22/2005
  • Series: Ruby Oliver Quartet Series , #1
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 240
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

E. Lockhart

E. Lockhart is the author of the highly acclaimed New York Times bestseller We Were Liars and the Ruby Oliver quartet (The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book, The Treasure Map of Boys, and Real Live Boyfriends), as well as Fly on the Wall, Dramarama, and How to Be Bad (the last with Sarah Mlynowski and Lauren Myracle). Her novel The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks was a Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book, a finalist for the National Book Award, and winner of a Cybils Award for Best Young Adult Novel. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Read an Excerpt

1. Adam (but he doesn't count.)

Adam was this boy that I used to stare at in preschool. His hair was too long, that's why. It stuck out behind his ears and trailed down his neck, whereas all the other five-year-old boys had bowl haircuts. I didn't have too much hair myself—it didn't grow fast and my mom was always trimming it with her nail scissors—so I was a little obsessed with hair.

Adam's last name was Cox, and after I had been eyeing him for a couple of months, I named this stuffed bunny I had after him. All the grown-ups laughed when I said the bunny's name was Cox, and I didn't understand why.

Pretty soon, Adam and I were playing together. Our parents took us to the zoo, and we'd spend time after school in the nearby playground, drawing with chalk and walking up the slide. I remember we went swimming a few times at the YMCA, and hung out in a plastic wading pool in his backyard. His cat had kittens, and I got to help name them because I came over the same morning they were born.

And that was it.

We were only five years old.

When I was old enough for kindergarten, I started at Tate Prep and he went somewhere else.

Doctor Z looked down at the Boyfriend List. She didn't seem too impressed with my Adam Cox story. Or maybe it was the list itself she didn't think much of—though it had taken me a lot of work to do. I started the night after our first appointment, in bed in my pajamas, writing on this thick, cream-colored stationery my grandma Suzette got me. It says Ruby Denise Oliver on the top in this great curlicue font—but I never use it, since anyone I'd want to write to has e-mail.

My first draft, I only wrote down Jackson and Cabbie. Then I added Gideon at the beginning, with a question mark next to his name. Then Michael, the guy who was my first kiss—putting him in between Gideon and Jackson.

Then I turned off my light and tried to go to sleep.

No luck.

Well, I wasn't sleeping well lately anyway—but I lay there with this feeling that the list wasn't finished. I remembered that I'd told Doctor Z about Angelo already, so I turned the light back on and squeezed him in between Jackson and Cabbie.

Oh, and I had mentioned Noel to Doctor Z, too—though we were only friends. I stuck him in right after Jackson, just to have somewhere to put him. Then I rewrote the list in nice handwriting and managed to get myself to sleep—but in the middle of the night I woke up and wrote down two more boys and my History & Politics teacher.

Then I crossed them all out.

At breakfast the next morning, I jumped up from my cereal bowl and put one of them back on.

At school, the hallway by the mail cubbies suddenly seemed like an obstacle course of old crushes and rejections. Shiv Neel. Finn Murphy. Hutch (ag). All three in my face before I even got to my first class. I pulled out the list and wrote them down.

All day long, I thought about boys. (Well, even more than usual.) And the more I thought, the more I remembered.

Adam, the mermaid.

Sky, the jerk.

Ben, the golden boy.

Tommy, who surfed.

Chase, who gave me the necklace.

Billy, who squeezed my boob.

Never in a million years would I have expected the list to be anywhere near so long. But by the end of the day, there were fifteen names on there, and the list was all scribbly-looking, with arrows zooming around to show what order the boys should really go in.

It was a mess, so during geometry I recopied it on the stationery in my best writing and threw the old one away.2 Then I tucked it into a matching envelope to give to Doctor Z.

"Why did you stop playing with Adam?" Doctor Z wanted to know.

"I told you, I started a different school."

"Is there something more?" she said, looking at me over those red-rimmed glasses.

"No."

I had liked making the list, it was kind of fun. But ag. What was the point of talking about something from ten years ago that wasn't even important? Zoo trips with Adam Cox and his mom weren't exactly significant to my mental development.

Not that there was anything else I wanted to talk about.

I just wanted the panic attacks to stop.

And the hollow, sore feeling in my chest to go away.

And to feel like I could make it through lunch period without choking back tears.

And Jackson. I wanted Jackson back.

And my friends.

"Did you ever see him again?"

"Who?" I had forgotten what we were talking about.

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Reading Group Guide

1. After the Adam "debacle" in chapter one, Roo and Kim begin a notebook called The Boy Book in which they write down everything they know about boys. Have you ever started a book like this on your own or with your friends? Do you think it would be useful? What information would you include?

2. On page 41, Ruby spills her guts to Kim about Finn. Is this smart? Are there circumstances in which it’s better to keep your mouth shut? Has something like this ever happened to you–you tried to do the right thing and it backfired?

3. Ruby gives three examples of the way love works in the movies. In her example on page 64, the couples hate each other half the time but still get together in the end. In her example on page 65, the couple breaks up, but then the man realizes that he loves the woman and can’t exist without her, and they get back together and live happily ever after. And on page 198, the hopeless dorky guy who’s been there all along eventually gets the girl. Do you agree with Ruby that these happy endings don’t happen in real life? Pick one of the movies mentioned and discuss it. Does the romantic situation in the movie ring true? Can you think of other movies, books, or television shows that would fit on Ruby’s lists?

4. Ruby discovers that dating Jackson isn’t the way she thought dating was supposed to be. Have you ever discovered that your ideas about something were wrong? How was the reality different from what you had imagined?

5. In chapter six, Kim and Ruby invent the perfect boyfriend and name him Tommy Hazard. Do you have your own Tommy Hazard? Are there hazards in creating a "perfect" boyfriend?

6. After stealing Jackson, Kim tells Ruby, "When you find your Tommy Hazard you’ll understand. I honestly couldn’t help it." Doyou agree with Kim’s justification of her behavior? Does she dothe right thing?

7. Even though Noel has become Roo’s only ally, she turns on him on page 176 after he says, ". . . if those are your friends you’ve got no need for enemies." Why does this upset Ruby so much? Do you think Noel is right? Why is Ruby not yet ready to give up her old life, even though it has become the source of such pain?

8. When Kim calls Ruby a slut in class, Mr. Wallace gives a lecture on the negative effects of labels and points out that "there are no equivalent epithets for men whatsoever, and didn’t that say something about how women are viewed in our culture?" (page 177). What does it say? Can you give examples of the negative effects of labels, from real life or from movies, music, television shows, or books?

9. Ruby ends the book by saying, "I was out of the Tate universe, standing on the edge of the sea" (page 229). What does she mean by this? Is she really out of the Tate universe? Is this a satisfying ending? Do you believe that Ruby is in a better place now than when the book began? What do you think is next for her?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 171 )
Rating Distribution

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(89)

4 Star

(48)

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(22)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(8)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 172 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jennifer Wardrip, aka "The Genius" for TeensReadToo.com

    The additional title of THE BOYFRIEND LIST is (15 guys, 11 shrink appointments, 4 ceramic frogs and me, Ruby Oliver). It's very enlightening, entertaining, and oh-so-paramount to the book. This is the life and times of nearly sixteen-year old Ruby Oliver, former girlfriend of Jackson, former best friend of Kim, former semi-popular Sophomore high-school girl. Now just a girl with panic attacks, a Xerox-copied "Boyfriend List" circulating through school, and a shrink named Doctor Z. <BR/><BR/>Ruby's life used to be pretty normal, until her boyfriend broke up with her to date her best friend. Then the panic attacks started--shortness of breath, a tightening sensation in the chest, dizziness and nausea--that had her parents shipping her off to a psychiatrist to work out her "issues." Those issues would mainly be, in chronological order: <BR/><BR/>1) Adam <BR/>2) Finn <BR/>3) Hutch <BR/>4) Gideon <BR/>5) Ben <BR/>6) Tommy <BR/>7) Chase <BR/>8) Sky <BR/>9) Michael <BR/>10) Angelo <BR/>11) Shiv <BR/>12) Billy <BR/>13) Jackson <BR/>14) Noel <BR/>15) Cabbie <BR/><BR/>It might sound, in retrospect, like a lot of guys in a short period of time. But Ruby's made a list of every boy who has ever meant something to her, and these are the fifteen guys that make up the list. In THE BOYFRIEND LIST, we learn about all the guys in Ruby's life, from Adam to Cabbie and everyone in between--and the result is a laugh-out-loud coming-of-age story that is well worth reading.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Laugh Out Loud Novel

    I absolutely loved, loved, loved, The Boyfriend List! It had me laughing out loud and I couldn't put it down. The main character, Ruby, has been having a tough week. Her boyfriend of six months dumped her, she has been labeled a slut by her entire school, and lost all of her friends. So after having five panic attacks, Ruby ends up at a shrink's office. The shrink, Dr. Z, has her write a list of all the boys she's ever dated or had a crush on or kissed. By making this list and reliving her past experiences with boys, Ruby starts adressing some of the issues in her life and finding herself. The story is told in a series of shrink appointments with Dr. Z, flashbacks to her experiences with the boys on her list, and the events leading up to her panic attacks. E. Lockhart tells this very interesting story with humor, wit, and sympathy. She is an author comparable with Meg Cabot, but she has a writing style all her own. Details about Ruby's life make this story come alive: that's she's a vegetarian, that she lives in a cramped houseboat with her gardener father and theatrical mother, that she wears glasses. By the end of the story Ruby feels like your best friend. I know I was rooting for her the whole time, feeling for Ruby during all her misadventures but also laughing because of them. The Boyfriend List is a great book and a pleasure to read; it's a very accurate depiction of high school life.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2008

    I Loved The Book!

    I love books with first person point of view! e. lockhart was really into the catchy dialogue and ruby's sarcasm. The book was flawless!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2012

    The boyfriend list....read this review..

    I loved the boyfriend list! It was a little inapropriat but thays okay! I am 12 and i read this book! It was in the high school library because i needed something more advanced!!! Read this book!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 28, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    from missprint DOT wordpress DOT com

    The whole mess started with Finn. But it started a while ago. Before Finn was all cute and tall and athletic. Well, technically it might have had more to do with Kim. But Finn is definitely involved. So is Jackson. And his four ceramic frogs. Tommy Hazard, as usual, is blameless. Angelo and Noel aren't really involved. But they might have helped make everything worse. When it's all said and done Nora, Cricket and Meghan are all not speaking to her. Kim isn't either but that isn't really a surprise.

    And that's almost all before fifteen-year-old Ruby Oliver starts having panic attacks that lead to her eleven shrink appointments.

    The first step in stopping the panic attacks is probably understanding what happened. Which requires looking at how things started (with Finn, obviously) and where they wound up (losing her best friend Kim, again duh). And a good way to figure things out is by making lists, right?

    It's not like one list could make Ruby's life even worse by ruining her reputation and making her a social outcast. Right?

    Wrong. One list can actually make Ruby's life even worse by ruining her reputation and making her a social outcast in The Boyfriend List: 15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver (2005) by E. Lockhart.

    The Boyfriend List is the first book in E. Lockhart's Ruby Oliver series.

    Deceptively slim at 229 pages (paperback), The Boyfriend List is a complex story told out of chronological order. While Ruby's life is essentially falling apart around her she also starts seeing Dr. Z and looking at her past interactions with boys to see what, exactly, happened. Lockhart moves seamlessly through distant and near past as she moves the story toward Ruby's immediate present (the point from which she is narrating).

    The resulting story is satisfyingly complex while still being straightforward. Despite what the title might suggest, this isn't a book about boys. It's about friendships and social interaction. And, okay, yes it's also about boys. Lockhart brings humor and compassion to a book that is simultaneously zany and deeply authentic (I think, more on that in the Exclusive Bonus Content). Even more impressive: She does it all while creating a convincing cast of oddballs, smarties, and other likely suspects who are all fun to read about--even if some of them might be jerks (like Jackson). All in all a delightful book.

    Possible Pairings: Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson, Vibes by Amy Kathleen Ryan, The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott, Absolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 3, 2009

    WOW...AMAZING

    I must say, this book rocked! E. Lockhart could not have done a more splendid job. The Boyfriend List wasn't confusing, it was packed with humor, and a great read. The characters are seriously really funny, especially main character Ruby Oliver. She's an average, everday teen. Except for the fact that she gets panic attacks, earns a name she doesn't deserve, and has some issues, not to mention TONS of drama going on in her life. I like how she's so easy to relate to. Not that it matters, but I liked how Ruby had glasses and lived in a boathouse. Just these little things added a lot to this book. Ruby Oliver isn't perfect, which makes this book perfect! With snobby girls and rumors spreading, The Boyfriend List is a perfect example of what high school is really like. Ruby must naviagate a pretty ugly rocky road in order to survive high school. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll just say that this book was amazing. I suggest you go out and buy it ASAP! This book won't let you down. Her parents, friends, boyfriends, shrink, Ruby herself, will not leave you disappointed.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2013

    BUY IT

    Reccomend this book. Very funny, to the point. It also "takes you along for the ride" meaning when Ruby Oliver (protagonist) is angry, you are as well, or when she is happy, you are feeling the same exact thing. Great for teens, pre-teens, and even adults!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2012

    MUST READ

    I read this on my NOOK and I loved it!! Read it in less than a day!! Couldnt put it down so neither shoukd you!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 24, 2011

    Great book

    This book is totally relatable to any teenage girl. One of the best books out right now.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Don't panic!

    15-year-old Ruby Oliver understandably starts having panic attacks when her first real boyfriend dumps her for her best friend and her other three best friends stop talking to her (in dramatic, public, and spectacular fashion, naturally), all within a relatively short period of time. Her parents start taking her to a therapist, Dr. Z., who tells Ruby to make a "boyfriend list", a list of every guy who Ruby has ever had any sort (real, imagined, less-than-24-hour, or slightly longer) of relationship with at all. Told from Ruby's point of view, readers hear the blow-by-blow account of each and every boy, from the one she used to play in the splashy pool with when she was four (Adam, the mermaid) to the one who dumped her out of the blue and mere days later was discovered at a party, stark naked with her former best friend (Jackson, the actual boyfriend...not that Ruby was at the party, mind you, but an oh-so-helpful acqaintence gave her a detailed description of the event after). An entertaining look at one girl's journey to self-discovery that leaves readers wanting more--which is good, since it's the start to a series!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2012

    Good

    I loved this book. It was interesting and entertaining. I wasn't bored at all when reading it

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 21, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    I read this book to my daughter, since she hates to read on her own. She's 12. I don't remember now if the main character was in middle school or high school, but either way....I thought it was a fine illustration of the sorts of "stuff" that goes on there, the difficulties kids face at this time of their lives, miscommunications, misconceptions, etc.. Very well written, certainly kept our interest.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2012

    Loved it

    It was ssuch a funny easy read she is such a great auther i look foward to reading more of her books

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2012

    17

    I am a seventeen year old girl and can relate so well with this. It is absolutely amazing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2014

    OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I got this book i read it and i thought it wuz amazing people older than 13 should read it not any younger # unrated

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2014

    #170 review

    Good book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2014

    I have this book and cannot put it down

    Love it

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2014

    Funny, witty read

    I read this book at the beginning of my freshman year of high school and found it to be a hilarious read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2014

    I NEED A BOYFRIEND

    Respond to Aurora. Find my bio at pink result 2

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2014

    To sarah

    Give me a bio

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