Photo by Lucas Cobb (slightly scary, slightly cute, yes?)
Ruby Oliver is a social outcast. She tried to get back with her ex-boyfriend, when he was dating one of her best friends, and now none of them are speaking to her. Most people at school are avoiding her. And so she starts having panic attacks. Her parents send her to Doctor Z, who tells her to write The Boyfriend List – a chronological list of all the boys she’s ever dated, liked, kissed, or shared a rumour with – and they work through it at their appointments. In-between meetings with Doctor Z, Ruby tells us more stories, goes to school, and manages to make things worse.
I love The Boyfriend List. It is one of the best teen/YA novels that I have ever read. It’s so good that I read it and then spent a year wanting to review it, but procrastinating instead because I was worried about doing it justice. I recently read it again, and decided that it was time to have a go at the review, because the world just needs my ravings about the wonders of The Boyfriend List. To make it a little easier for myself at first, I decided not to go straight into my usual review format, but to write a list of things I loved about the book instead. I was just going to use this to get a draft done, and then edit it into a more regular shape, but I think it fits the book better than my standard review style.
So I give you:
Ten Things I Love About The Boyfriend List
- Ruby lives on a houseboat. A houseboat! I stayed on a houseboat for a week and it was great. Apart from the couple of occasions that it nearly crashed into other boats/the side of the canal.
- The characterisation is amazing. There are loads of characters but even the minor ones are introduced with memorable details, so it’s not hard to keep track. Ruby’s mother is a performance artist, and her father runs a gardening newsletter and mail-order seed business. Her ex-boyfriend, Jackson, used to give her model frogs. Kim’s parents are both doctors. Hutch is into vintage heavy metal. Those are just a few iceberg tips.
- Ruby is a brilliant narrator. She’s funny, she’s overdramatic, she’s intelligent but frequently completely oblivious to consequences, and I can feel my mind growing as hers does over the course of the book. Her relationships with the other characters are very true to life.
- There are several totally crushworthy boys. Finn. Angelo. Gideon. Shiv. Noel. NOEL. And they’re not all the same ‘type’ either, they’re all really different. Each chapter is named after one of the boys on the list, so don’t worry, you will learn about them all!
- Ruby’s friends are all really different and interesting too. I was especially intrigued by Nora and I hope we get to find out more about her in the other books.
- Jackson, Ruby’s ex, is perfect for loving-to-hate. He’s such a slimeball. And yet at times I wondered if he actually means to be evil, or if he just doesn’t understand how much he hurts other people, or isn’t mature enough to properly care.
- The mysterious Doctor Z. With her ponchos and occasional thoughtful prompts, both of which comically infuriate Ruby.
- The footnotes, which are an ingenious way of including the tangents that a person would naturally go off on, if they were telling you a story in a conversation, without truly interrupting the main goings-on.
- It’s just as great the second time around. On my second reading of The Boyfriend List, I noticed quite a few things that I didn’t notice the first time I read it. Cue more even more exclaiming aloud that E. Lockhart is a genius.
- It’s just the first in the series! There are three other books!
Heather's Goodreads review, which I completely agree with. The Boyfriend List is a serious, painless, totally enjoyable educational experience.
Review by Lauren of I Was A Teenage Book Geek