Smart, funny, neurotic Ruby Oliver (from The Boy Book and The Boyfriend List) is back, still struggling with confusing boys, former friends who now shun her and, of course, panic attacks. When her shrink asks her to create a treasure map showing "positive relationships with [her] peer group," Ruby again focuses on the boys in her life-like Jackson, her first boyfriend, who cheated on her with her former best friend but now may want her back. In the process, she overlooks some of the true gems surrounding her. Fans will continue to root for the authentic if self-centered narrator as she relates both the hilarious and painful moments of her life (which sometimes coincide, such as when her mother comments on her breasts and her back pimples while they are in a Nordstrom changing room). Readers may get occasionally annoyed by Ruby's emotional upheavals, but they will appreciate her honest insights about the good and bad in everyone-including "hyperverbal and reasonably good looking" people like her who "get confused about what and whom they want"-and about the possibility of loving them anyway. Ages 12-up. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Suzanna E. Henshon
Is it really possible to capture the anxiety of adolescence in a novel? Ruby skids from crisis to crisis in this easy to digest book, eventually coming to a delicious ending. As she survives yet another week of "Noboyfriend," Ruby worries that her love life will never resurrect itself. To make matters worse, her friendships are in chaos. Ruby and her best friend, Nora, are in love with Noel, but handsome Jackson writes notes to Ruby and eventually asks her to the big dance. Ruby is in charge of the school bake sale, trying to survive therapy sessions with Dr. Z, and trying to escape the rumor mill at Tate Prep. This is a companion novel to The Boyfriend List and The Boy Book. Ruby's coming-of-age story includes the age old problems of finding true friends and authentic love with a twenty-first century twist. Young adults will enjoy seeing Ruby survive the trials and tribulations of high school in this authentic story. Reviewer: Suzanna E. Henshon, Ph.D.
VOYA - Teri S. Lesesne
Ruby Oliver, whose story began with The Boyfriend List (Delacorte, 2005/VOYA April 2005) is back in this third book that documents her triumphs and failures at relationships. At first, it seems as if Ruby and Noel will become a couple; however, as school begins, Noel confesses to a brief summer fling with one of Ruby's ex-friends. Maybe Nora's older brother Gideon will be the one Ruby can take to the Spring Fling. But then Ruby's ex, Jackson, lets it be known that he, too, is available. It seems an abundance of riches, but it is not long before Ruby is again exiled to Noboyfriend Land. Lockhart infuses Ruby with a snarky sense of humor that allows this book to go beyond simple romance and school stories. Ruby struggles with some of the more typical adolescent issues: embarrassing parents, overenthusiastic teachers, demanding friends, and much more. Ruby's love of her internship at the zoo and her distaste for her stint as a Birkenstock shoe salesperson let readers into Ruby's thoughts and feelings with ease. Breezy and funny and, ultimately, philosophical, this novel demonstrates Lockhart's incredible skill at telling stories that matter to teens. Reviewer: Teri S. Lesesne
School Library Journal
Gr 6–9—Readers who missed The Boyfriend List (2005) and The Boy Book (2006, both Delacorte) will have no trouble keeping up, but they might still feel compelled to go back and read them. Sixteen-year-old Ruby brings readers up to speed on her dramatic history, in which a love triangle, a misplaced boyfriend list, and a dented reputation have left her almost friendless (aka a "roly poly," to use her coined term for a social pariah) and in therapy. The book chronicles her continuing social dilemmas, including ambiguous signals from former boyfriend Jackson, growing conflict over would-be boyfriend Noel, a lost job, a new pet, and panic attacks. Sessions with therapist Dr. Z punctuate the narrative, providing an opportunity for Ruby—and readers—to reflect on herself and her peers and unpack her feelings and fears. And despite her obvious insecurities, Ruby is funny—very funny. She expresses herself in a manner both self-deprecating and precocious, with a quirky use of language and an appreciation for the absurd that is thoroughly endearing. A definite purchase if you have the first two in the series; if you don't, consider getting all three for reluctant readers and lovers of chick-lit.—Emma Burkhart, Springside School, Philadelphia, PA
Ruby Oliver, the neurotic, lovable, and painfully believable heroine of two previous volumes (The Boyfriend List, 2005, and The Boy Book, 2006), returns. The relative stability gained in The Boy Book is fleeting: Ruby's crushing on Noel but can't admit it as Nora likes him, and her now-single ex, Jackson, is leaving her notes. What's a girl to do? Run the best bake sale ever (while defying expectations and tradition), experience some panic attacks and slowly but surely come closer to figuring it all out, with some mistakes and lots of help from awesome friends. Replete with wordplay, footnotes and excerpts from The Girl Book (Ruby's latest endeavor) as well as lists ("Movies in which a makeover facilitates love") and lots of laugh-out-loud moments, this is a worthy follow-up for fans. Newcomers will be better served by starting with the equally fantastic earlier entries. Ruby is smart, confused and often foolish when it comes to love; few characters ring this true. As Ruby would say: complete and utter deliciousness. (Fiction. 13 & up)
Read an Excerpt
In laboratories dim
We bend to Fleischman's whim
And suffer twice a week
Horrors terrible to speak.
Will you deign
To ease my pain?
Or will I slowly
Say you'll be my partner true
In Chemistry, it's me and you.
--written on yellow legal paper in Noel's cramped, somewhat illegible scrawl; found in my mail cubby, folded eight thousand times and with a bit of coffee spilled on one corner.
the first day back from winter break, junior year, I walked into Chem to find a head of red cabbage on every lab table. Also a juicer. Tate Prep is the kind of school where the chemistry teacher has a budget to buy fourteen juicers. I go there on scholarship.
Mr. Fleischman started the class yelling, "Happy New Year, people! Wash your hands and juice your cabbages! No fingers in the machinery!"
He was a small white man, only five foot two, with a pug nose and a large bald spot ill concealed by a comb-over. He jumped up and down more than most fifty-year-olds do and dyed what little hair he had left a shiny black. "Kitchen science!" cried Fleischman. "That's our new unit, people. Everyday chemical reactions that happen in your very own home."
I washed my hands and juiced my cabbage. Sadly, I was familiar with the procedures for juicing vegetables because my mother had started the new year by embarking on a raw food diet. Her new idea of breakfast was celery juice.
The cabbage was my cabbage and my cabbage alone because Noel was late. I'd gotten his note that morning in my mail cubby, but I hadn't seen him since before the holiday.
"Say you'll be my partner true/In Chemistry, it's me and you," he'd written.
Only now he wasn't here.
"Come to the front and get six plastic cups, protective gloves, baking soda, orange juice, liquid Drano, ammonia and vinegar," announced Fleischman. Katarina and Ariel, golden girls of the junior class, were squealing at the semi-disgusting purple glop that had formed in our juicers.
"I think I'm gonna puke from the smell," said Ariel.
"Don't puke," called Fleischman. "There's no puking allowed in chemistry. Scientists never puke."
"You smell it," said Ariel. "See how you feel."
Fleischman ignored her. "Be careful with the ammonia, people. And the Drano. I'm not seeing the gloves on your hands. The gloves go on your hands. Is that too much to expect you to figure out?"
I had to make three trips to the front to get everything. The third time, Ariel was there too. She held a little dish of orange juice. "Hello, Ruby," she said to me. "How was your break?"
"Good," I answered. Since the debacles of sophomore year had died down, Ariel, Katarina and Heidi all spoke to me if they had to. But I knew what they really thought of me.
"We skied Mount Baker over New Year's," Ariel said.
"Cool." I shrugged. Skiing is not in my budget. I spent winter break helping my dad repair cracks in his greenhouse off the side of the houseboat we live in and watching way too many movies. Dad runs an obscure and deeply earnest gardening newsletter entitled Container Gardening for the Rare Bloom Lover.
Why was Ariel making conversation with me, anyhow?
"Yeah," she went on. "Me, Katarina and Heidi were all about Sneaky Pete and Blueberry Cat Track."
I had no idea what she was talking about. Possibly ski trails. Possibly coffee drinks. Video games? Sexual positions?
"But Cricket skied the Chute and Kim owned Gunners Bowl," Ariel went on. "Jackson, Kyle and those guys came for New Year's. Such an excellent party."
That was why she was telling me this.
Kim and Cricket are my ex-friends. Ariel was making sure I knew they'd all spent New Year's skiing together, which meant that Kim and Cricket were now firmly in the Katarina set.
"Spankin'," I said. Because of course it hurt that she had Kim and Cricket now. She meant it to hurt. There was nothing I could say in retaliation except something that would confuse her.
"Whatever," Ariel answered, wrinkling her nose.
I went back to my table and put spoonfuls of baking soda in my cups of cabbage juice.
The cabbage juice turned blue.
"I see it's turning blue, people!" Fleischman cried, jumping. "That's good. Now add precise dropperfuls of your various other substances to the blue cabbage juice, and make a record of how many droppers it takes to return the fluid to reddish purple. Then come to conclusions about the acidic and basic contents of your ingredients."
I added ammonia to one of the cups. The juice turned green. Did that mean it was acidic or basic?
What were we supposed to be writing down, again?
As my lab partner, Noel was usually Captain of the Pen, while I was usually Captain of the Beaker.
Where was Noel? Was he really going to ask to be my lab partner and then ditch class?
And why had he asked to be my lab partner, anyway? We had been lab partners last term. We were obviously going to be lab partners this term too. There was no need to write a note about it.
The Drano turned my cabbage juice blue.
"Later in the term we're doing the science of baking!" Fleischman continued. "Did you people know that chemical reactions are taking place constantly in your home ovens? In your very own blenders? It's fascinating, I promise you."
The plastic gloves felt hot on my hands and I was starting to sweat in the warm lab. I was nervous about seeing Noel.
Because Noel liked me.
Or at least, he once liked me.
And I liked him back, if liking someone means you want to touch him whenever he's sitting next to you and he makes you laugh and you find yourself thinking about him, like, when you're alone in the shower with the door locked. If liking someone means that whenever he's in a room with you, even an auditorium or the refectory, you know exactly where he is and what he's doing, like you've got Noel radar.
Last fall, Noel had asked if he could kiss me. I wanted to say yes and throw myself on top of him like a kissing lunatic--but there were a thousand reasons not to. It was very complicated. So I told him no.
After that incident of extreme awkwardness, we had settled into being lab partners and occasionally eating lunch together with other people; a semi-friendship that didn't involve e-mailing, calling, writing each other notes or hanging out after school. So far, it had worked out okay. I mean, I just tried not to think about him--and most of the time I managed it.
From the Hardcover edition.