Real Live Boyfriends: Yes. Boyfriends, plural. If my life weren't complicated, I wouldn't be Ruby Oliver

( 34 )


From E. Lockhart, author of the highly acclaimed, New York Times bestseller We Were Liars, which John Green called "utterly unforgettable," comes Real Live Boyfriends, the fourth book in the uproarious and heartwarming Ruby Oliver novels that finds Ruby Oliver as neurotic and hyperverbal as ever as she interviews her friends for a documentary on love and popularity and while doing so turns up some uncomfortable truths.

She’s lost most of her friends. She’s lost her ...

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Real Live Boyfriends: Yes. Boyfriends, plural. If my life weren't complicated, I wouldn't be Ruby Oliver

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From E. Lockhart, author of the highly acclaimed, New York Times bestseller We Were Liars, which John Green called "utterly unforgettable," comes Real Live Boyfriends, the fourth book in the uproarious and heartwarming Ruby Oliver novels that finds Ruby Oliver as neurotic and hyperverbal as ever as she interviews her friends for a documentary on love and popularity and while doing so turns up some uncomfortable truths.

She’s lost most of her friends. She’s lost her true love more than once. She’s lost her grandmother, her job, her reputation, and possibly her mind. But she’s never lost her sense of humor. The Ruby Oliver books are the record of her survival.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for real live boyfriends:
“Fans will enthusiastically embrace this hilarious novel.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Wryly comic lists, footnotes, and narration lay Ruby Oliver’s heart bare and construct a vulnerable, sympathetic character with whom many teens will relate.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Fans of the series will clamor for Ruby’s latest adventure.”—Booklist
A Junior Library Guild Selection
An ALA-YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Book

Children's Literature - Amanda MacGregor
The final book of the "Ruby Oliver Quartet" series delivers more family turmoil, friend drama, and plenty of boyfriend woes. Ruby still visits Dr. Z. for therapy and is on the outs with most of her former friends. Her parents continue to act like eccentric adolescents. The one seemingly wholly good thing in Ruby's life is that she is now dating quirky Noel. But when Noel goes away for the summer and stops returning Ruby's calls and emails, she wonders if he is still her Real Life Boyfriend. It does not help that Gideon Van Deusen, Ruby's former crush, is suddenly interested in her. When Ruby's mother takes off for an extended break after a big fight, her father sinks into a depression that mostly involves him lying on the floor and eating Cheetos. Between her family and her friends, Ruby is on drama overload. But for once, her panic attacks and self-loathing do not seem to consume her as they used to. As she copes with the changing relationships and mends some fences, Ruby has to face up to the fact that she just might be a functioning human being and not the deranged mental patient she has always seen herself as. Peppered with humorous lists, footnotes, and dialogue from a documentary Ruby is working on about love, popularity, and friendship, this final volume is a satisfying ending to a magnificent series. Ruby is funny, awkward, unique, and real. Readers can pick up this book without having read the first three books in the series, but will surely want to go back and start at the beginning once they discover the charismatic Ruby Oliver. Reviewer: Amanda MacGregor
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385734295
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 12/27/2011
  • Series: Ruby Oliver Quartet Series
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 413,291
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.96 (h) x 0.58 (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. Real Live Boyfriends!    

A definition:  

A real live boyfriend does not contribute to your angst.  

You do not wonder if he will call.  

You do not wonder whether he will kiss you.  

And he does not look at his phone while you are talking, to see if anyone has texted him.  

Of course he calls. He's your boyfriend!  

Of course there will be kissing. He's your boyfriend!  

And of course he listens. He's your real live boyfriend!  

You can sit down next to him at lunch whenever you want. There's no need for mental gyrations such as: Will he want me there when he's hanging with his friends? Or will he half ignore me in order to seem golden in front of them?  

Of course you can sit with him. He's your boyfriend!   You can assume you'll see him on the weekend. You can call him just to chat. You can expect he'll be nice to your friends.  

Contrary to some rumors, however, you don't have to be in love. You don't have to engage in any horizontal action beyond what you're in the mood for. You don't even need to stay together after high school. But you have to like him and he has to like you—and everyone has to know you're together.   He's your real live boyfriend!        

2.     The Insanity of My Parents! And Romance!    

From seventh grade to ninth, I had a real live boyfriend named Tommy Hazard.  

Tommy was perfect. He had clear skin, he was never obnoxious in class, and he was excellent at sports. He had beautiful strong shoulders and a secret mysterious smile. Tall but not too tall. Great teeth. Smoldering eyes.  

In fact, he was superhot and could have any girl he wanted. And the best thing was—he went weak whenever he saw me.  

He was also imaginary.  

I told my best friend, Kim, all about him. He changed according to my mood. Sometimes he was a surfer boy in board shorts and a bead choker, tossing the water out of his hair as he smiled down at me. Sometimes he was a skate punk. Other times a mod guy in a narrow tie who took beautiful black-and-white photographs.  

Then I started going out with Jackson Clarke, sophomore year, and Tommy Hazard disappeared—I guess because I finally had a real live boyfriend with a real live heart pumping in his chest.  

Only—then it turned out he didn't.  

Have a heart.  

And he didn't want to be my real live boyfriend anymore—  

He wanted to be Kim's.      

Flash to end of junior year.  

When I wrote the above definition of a real live boyfriend, it was fourteen months since Kim and Jackson got together and shattered my heart, plunging me into an abyss of bad mental health. I wrote it sitting in the B&O Espresso, where Meghan and I were supposed to be studying for finals. We were hopped up on dobosh torte and coffee drinks, and I couldn't think any more about chemistry formulas.  

I flipped to a new page in my notebook and wrote something else, just to give myself a break.  

Meghan crinkled her sexy little freckled nose when she read it. "What do you mean, real live boyfriend?"  

"Exactly what I wrote."  

"But—" Meghan looked perplexed.  


"Isn't this just what a boyfriend is?" she asked. "Any boyfriend?"  

Just to be clear, Meghan has had a pretty much continuous cycle of serious boyfriends since seventh grade. Me, I had been in the state of Noboyfriend since April of sophomore year, when the Kim/Jackson debacle made me pretty much dysfunctional.  

And while you could argue that Meghan's male-oriented outlook on life was all about the fact that her dad died when she was twelve and that's why she's the only other teenager I know who sees a shrink on a regular basis, there was no denying that she was being truthful when she said she didn't know what I was writing about. She and her boyfriend, Finn, who was making espresso behind the counter at the B&O right that very minute, got together just before Spring Fling junior year and were as real and live as real and live could be. And before Finn, Meghan had been real and live with Bick.  

And before Bick, with a guy she met at camp.  

And before that, with Chet, who moved away.  

And before that—you get the idea.  

Meghan didn't know much about how it felt to wonder if a guy still liked you. She didn't know about half-boyfriends and awkwardness and partial breakups and all that human weirdness—partly, yes, because she is one of the most oblivious people I've ever met and really might not know human weirdness if it bit her, but also because she somehow knows how to connect with boys. Not like they're Neanderthals or wildebeests or aliens or pod-robots, but like they're normal human beings.  

Which obviously they are.  

Only, it is extremely hard to tell sometimes.  

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 34 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 34 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 17, 2011

    First time I fell in love with a character

    I absolutely adored this book. It is by far my favorite of the series. I read it within a matter of three days but found myself trying to prolong the story. I fell in love with Noel because Lockhart does such a good job of making people like and dislike her characters, in my opinion. Although I think this was the end of the series, I desperately and selfishly hope there will be another because I began reading about Ruby Oliver's debacles in the 7th grade and still enjoy reading them as a senior in high school. I highly recommend this book but only if you've read the previous three and liked them as much as I did.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Quick, smart, hysterical, and completely and utterly real

    This is the fourth and final book in the Ruby Oliver series.unfortunately. For those readers out there who've not had the pleasure of experiencing these fantastic stories, let us bring you up to date. Ruby Oliver, known as Roo, is a high school student with a definitive "voice." A bit on the sarcastic side (which is written extremely well by E. Lockhart), Ruby is one of those girls who just refuse to let life get the best of her. Her rather odd parents have slightly odd careers. Her father has his own website/magazine for horticulture enthusiasts. Usually a very calm individual, Dad is more interested in staring into his flower pots than noticing the things going on all around him. Roo's mother is a little on the frenzied, slightly crazy, side of life. Every month or so she comes up with a new thing - a new idea that she is sure will take the world by storm. Introduced in this story is a hysterical idea involving a pig's head and Mom's complete disregard for the fact that Roo is a vegetarian. Roo, her wacky parents, and a Great Dane live on a houseboat in Seattle. Roo is extremely excited because she has finally landed Noel as a boyfriend. He's "the one," although Roo has to deal with the backlash that came from the fact that Noel was the true love of her very best friend, Nora, AND Noel doesn't seem to be acting like a real-live boyfriend anymore. It's as if all of his kind-hearted, loving skills go right out the window when he travels to New York to visit his brother. The emails stop, the phone calls become non-existent, and Roo begins to wonder what the heck is happening. Now, even her own strange mother is upset because she doesn't think Dad is acting like her real live boyfriend either, and the arguments are getting insane. It seems that every week Roo visits her long-time therapist, her list of issues seem to grow longer and longer. Ruby Oliver's story began in freshman year and watching this young girl grow up and face the panic attacks and relationships that are common through the teen years are a true pleasure to witness. In this final installment the story becomes much more in-depth, as the author does a great job of showing the pitfalls and triumphs that come from growing up. This book shines the spotlight on real life and getting to that point where you're right on the edge of finding out who you are and who you want to become. Quill says: From the first novel, The Boyfriend List, to this unbelievable ending, the dialogue has been outstanding: quick, smart, hysterical, and completely and utterly real. From Ruby's nicotine-loving psychiatrist, to a "gay Chinese penguin tale" that will have readers laughing out loud, this is truly a terrific ending to a much beloved series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2013


    I love noel hes the best character next to ruby i wish there were more books in the series

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2012

    Best book ever .... gotta love ruby !

    I love this book !

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2012


    Wow i just finished the book. Its a great ending to the series. I have fallin in and out and back in love with the charactures as they get older. Noel Meghan Kim Nora Jackson and Dr.Z.

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  • Posted February 28, 2012

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    from missprint DOT wordpress DOT com

    Ruby Oliver has been in therapy. She has gone through Reginald several times. Her ex-boyfriend has cheated on her and turned into a pod-robot. Her best friends weren't such good friends. She has conquered bake sales, November Week and befriended a pygmy goat named Robespierre.

    Some of it was hard, some of it was fun. All of it led Ruby to a new group of strange but dependable friends and, maybe more surprisingly, to a new boyfriend.

    Noel is the perfect boyfriend. He's Ruby's real, live boyfriend and everything is perfect. At least it is for a while.

    But then everything gets complicated again. Noel shuts down and shuts Ruby out. Her parents are fighting. Hutch has gone to Paris to study and do whatever retro-metal fans do in France. Megan is busy with her real live boyfriend. Things with Nora are still kind of a mess. Then Gideon shows up. Shirtless.

    It's all a mess but with little patience and a lot of mishaps Ruby might be able to survive these recent debacles, her panic attacks, and even manage to make a few lists about the whole thing in Real Live Boyfriends: Yes. Boyfriends, plural. If my life weren't complicated, I wouldn't be Ruby Oliver (2010) by E. Lockhart.

    Real Live Boyfriends is the fourth book in the Ruby Oliver Quartet. Ruby's earlier adventures are chronicled begining in The Boyfriend List and followed by The Boy Book and The Treasure Map of Boys.

    I love reading about Ruby's misadventures and all of her friends. Almost everything about this conclusion was spot on. My only real complaint: I wished Hutch was around more. Because he was my favorite character.

    Real Live Boyfriends was the right conclusion to a really fun, sincere series. Reading through the books Ruby felt like a personal friend and it's hard to believe her adventures are over so quickly (I only started reading the series a couple months ago). The book picks up during the summer before Ruby's senior year and conclude during at the end of the first semester. Lockhart provides closure for Ruby's panic attacks, her friends, her parents and even Robespierre the pygmy goat. Questions are answered about Kim, Nora, Cricket and Gideon.

    It's sad to see the end of the series but Roo fans will find a satisfying if bittersweet conclusion. Loose ends from the series are tied up while still leaving Ruby looking at a future that can be whatever she wants it to be. And knowing Ruby, you can bet it will be a bright, zany future.

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  • Posted January 17, 2012

    How romantic I loved it!

    Real Live Boyfriends is about Ruby Oliver and her boyfriend, Noel. The theme of the book is romance. The first person in this book is Ruby Oliver. The second person is Noel. Ruby Oliver is a senior in high school and she is in love, but problems start happening when Noel's family leaves to New York City for the summer. Noel has been going through rough times and has not been sending e-mails, love poems, texts, or calls from Ruby. Ruby is the type of girl who wants to listen and understand peoples' feelings. She often gets panic attacks when she is nervous or really scared. She thinks that she is losing Noel because he has not been talking to her or does not seem to care much about her. Noel is the type of guy that does not want to talk about his private life or his feelings. They break up and they both start dating other people. When Ruby's friend, Gideon, starts falling in love with Ruby after they had their first date, she feels conflicted because she still has feelings for Noel.

    Ruby does not feel that confident about herself because not only does she have problems with her boyfriend but also with her family. She used to argue with her mom, and her dad is depressed because his mother passed away. The character conflicts in the book reflect the conflicts in real life. It shows romantic relationships can be complicated and made more difficult by other problems in the characters' lives. This book is similar to the Twilight series because they are both romance books that show how the characters deal with conflicts.

    I really like this book because it talks about boyfriend and girlfriend relationships and how the characters deal with them. The book is for young teenagers and has a lot of drama, emotions, and romance. In fact, this is the best romance book that I ever read. The author's writing style is very easy to read and it made me want to read more of it. E.Lockhart has other Ruby Oliver books that I want to read next. Her other books are The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book, and The Treasure Map of Boys. All of Ruby Oliver books seem very interesting and I want to read all of them and continue reading romance books. I hope E.Lockhart will continue writing more Ruby Oliver books.

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  • Posted June 13, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo

    Ruby is back with a whole new set of problems. I'll never get tired of E. Lockhart's Ruby Oliver. She is a senior now and seems to have this boyfriend thing under control. Or does she? Ruby is pretty sure Noel is "the one." He treats her just the way she thinks a real boyfriend should. Why is she worried then? Well, that's how Ruby is. She still sees a therapist on a regular basis, although she isn't completely convinced that it's working. Things become even more confusing when dreamy Gideon begins paying attention to her. It's complicated by the fact that Noel is visiting his brother in New York, and not communicating as much as a real boyfriend should. Should she be satisfied with a few really nifty poems he has sent, or should she be expecting more? At the same time Ruby is dealing with Noel and Gideon issues, her grandmother dies. She's sad and knows she will miss her father's mother, but her father is taking the death of his mother a bit too far. He sleeps on the couch, rarely changes his clothes, and stumbles around eating nothing but orange snack items. She is left to eat the meals her mother fixes that suddenly include every meat product known to man. Why can't her mother acknowledge the fact that Ruby is a vegetarian? Home life continues to deteriorate when her mother decides she has had enough and heads off to some women's retreat with a friend. Ruby is left behind to muddle along with her depressed father. She must try to think about college preparations, hang on to her remaining friends, and figure out why Noel has changed since his return from New York. E. Lockhart has a unique talent for capturing the angst of being a teenager while at the same time including laugh-out-loud humor that allows anxiety-ridden teens to find the humor in their own situations. I certainly hope readers will be able to follow Ruby a bit further as she begins college and continues her adventures with family, friends, and boyfriends.

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  • Posted April 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Fabulous and Hilarious- Just Like Ruby!

    This conclusion to the Ruby Oliver Quartet couldn't have been better. E. Lockhart did a fantastic job of wrapping up Ruby's debacles and once again delivered a story that kept me laughing. It also had me crying. And cheering for Ruby. And crushing on Noel.

    Real Live Boyfriends begins with an entry of Ruby's about the definition of a real live boyrfiend (as opposed to a not so great boyfriend). Her definition of a real live boyfriend is a boyfriend who always calls you back, who sits with you at lunch, and who never adds to your angst. For awhile there, Noel fits that description perfectly and Ruby feels she's in love with him. But all of a sudden Noel starts to pull away from Ruby without an explanation and she finds her life spinning out of control.

    The hilarious footnotes of the previous installments were funnier (and wackier) than ever. Ruby's shrink Dr. Z. was just as humorous and unhelpful. As a fictional character, Ruby has always seemed very real to me, and in this book she was brimming with life. Finishing this series was like saying goodbye to a best friend, but luckily I can re-read these books and visit Ruby again. I highly recommend buying this book to be a part of your collection.

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  • Posted February 19, 2011


    i couldnt put it down!

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  • Posted February 17, 2011

    LOVE IT! BEST BOOK EVER! (for picky people like me)

    this book is the best book in the world. i am very veery picky with what i read. i cant read anything that has a boring or uninteresting beginning but this book went right to it. best book every. recommended to everyone, teens, adults, and children..... favorite author in the world NOW

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  • Posted January 1, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Typical Ruby

    And I don't mean "typical' in a bad way. If you've read the first three, you need to finish the series/ She's getting herself together in her typically relate-able and adorable fashion!

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  • Posted December 28, 2010

    First Time Ruby Reader, Need More!!

    REAL LIFE BOYFRIENDS, by E. Lockhart, is the fourth book in the Ruby Oliver series. I hate to admit when I signed up for this tour I had no idea that it was the fourth book in a series. I usually don't like to read books out of series but I was very interested in this book from the synopsis so I decided to jump out of my comfort zone. Although I am sure there was more background that I was missing out on, I admit that I absolutely loved this book.

    Ruby's voice is absolutely charming and lovable. I love her sense of humor and her mature outlook on life. Although these characters were new to me, I fell in love with them almost immediately. I loved Ruby and Noel together and I was upset when they had relationship troubles after his trip to New York. The realization of what tore them apart was heart-shattering and I was anxious to see if at least their friendship would remain intact.

    Overall, this seems like a great series. I am very excited to get caught up on the other books. But in the end, I would definitely recommend this book.

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    Posted March 16, 2012

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    Posted December 16, 2011

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    Posted January 17, 2011

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    Posted June 16, 2011

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    Posted January 1, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2011

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    Posted August 18, 2013

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