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Ruby Oliver #1

The Boyfriend List: 15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver

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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.

6 pages, Audio Cassette

First published March 22, 2005

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About the author

E. Lockhart

20 books13.8k followers
E. Lockhart is the author of Again Again, Genuine Fraud, We Were Liars and Family of Liars, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, and several other books. Whistle: A New Gotham CIty Hero is a graphic novel.

website: www.emilylockhart.com
Instagram: elockhartbooks
Twitter: elockhart

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,943 reviews
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,379 reviews11.7k followers
August 22, 2021
This books is 16 years old. True, some stuff in it didn't age well - the language around mental health, or no one would be so proud of watching Woody Allen's movies anymore. Still, for me, these are some of the best YA books ever written. I've read them 5 times now, and I'll read them again.
I can't help it, I simply adore E. Lockhart's YA books. As far as girly, chick-lit books about relationships go, hers are the best. And this is coming from a person who isn't into chick-lit.

Just like in The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, E. Lockhart explores the challenges of being a teenage girl. In “The Boyfriend List” we learn about Ruby Oliver through her relationships with boys (not necessarily her boyfriends), how these relationship affect her life and if they are at all healthy and constructive.

Ruby is not a perfect character – she makes mistakes, she hangs on to boys for all the wrong reasons, she doesn’t appreciate her real friends enough. In short, she does everything that other teenage girls do. But in the end, through looking back at her dating history, analyzing her own family dynamics and talking to her therapist, Ruby learns how to be more assertive, get what she wants from her relationships with boys and simply becomes a more self-aware person.

I can not praise Lockhart’s writing style enough – it is funny and clever. I like how the author deciphers relationships through Ruby's experiences. I love that the underlying message of this book is for girls not to become complacent and emotionally dependent on boys, that dating a popular guy is not the most important thing in the world. It is a sad thing to say, but I feel like many grown women need to read this novel, just to get a better understanding of their dating patterns and mistakes. Many still have no idea how to get what they want out of their relationships with men. This book is better than any relationship self-help book out there.
Profile Image for Nataliya.
713 reviews11.3k followers
July 4, 2022
Few things are worse than being 15 (examples: nuclear war and dental work without anesthesia).
As Stephen King said, "If you liked being a teenager, there’s something wrong with you." But Ruby puts on her Big Girl panties and DEALS WITH IT.

No catatonia or glorified semi-suicidality. Instead, she sees a therapist, like a responsible young adult.
Why is being a fifteen-year-old girl so traumatic, you ask? Some things that instantly come to mind: crippling insecurity and faltering self-esteem, arbitrary but vitally important social rules, the need to fit in and be validated, bottled-up feelings always on the verge of exploding, carelessness bordering on cruelty, and finally, those alluring, mysterious, and incredibly frustrating boys.
Ruby Oliver is fifteen and, as the title suggests, is going through a tough time (those statements are practically synonyms). Within a few days she goes from a reasonably popular and happy girl to a social pariah whose boyfriend has dumped her for her best friend, whose friends have turned away from her (and she alienated those who did not), and the whole school thinks she is a "slut". And she is getting all the blame (not the boy. Never the boy). So now she has panic attacks and a poncho-wearing shrink. And she just wants things to go back to normal.
"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."
I expected a light-hearted fun teen high-school drama with plenty of boy crushes, silly shallowness, teen girl gossip, and all sorts of hilarious misunderstandings. And, of course, some ceramic frogs.

But the author of (also fifteen-year-old) Frankie Landau-Banks delivers quite a bit more. Her book has an unexpected depth that is not in any way suggested by a ridiculously-adorable-ceramic-frog book cover. She writes a story that also encompasses the dangers of emotional lying to yourself, masking your feelings, and emotional passivity. It's a story of friendship and betrayal and unfairness. But it's not a love story. It's not a coming-of-age story about finding yourself, either. It's a story about heartbreak because of losing things you love. It is about learning to DEAL WITH plenty of nasty things life sends your way and keep yourself together, especially during the 'frogless' days.

Ruby's story is far from the way too common "reader-please-insert-yourself-here" wish-fulfillment fantasy. For one, Ruby has plenty of faults that are real and not cutesy or charmingly imaginary (she can quite often be clueless, shallow, self-absorbed, and mean).
"My problem is I can think whatever I think—girl power, solidarity, Gloria Steinem rah rah rah — but I still feel the way I feel.
Which is jealous. And pissy about little things.
There is no fairy-tale ending:
- no cute previously misunderstood boy swoops in to rescue her from her troubles and make everything better;
- she does not do anything special to make everyone adore her;
- she does not discover the true meaning of life or have a life-changing epiphany;
- she does not become a markedly better and very-grown-up-for-her-age person;
- her friends don't magically understand her point of view and welcome her back with open arms.

What Ruby does learn is that some honesty and self-assertiveness goes a long way. She sees how many people around her keep their true feelings bottled up - including her friend Nora and her own seemingly outspoken mother. Ruby is able to analyze her dating patterns and learn from them a bit. She learns that at least for a time being it is possible to step outside the boundaries of the shallow self-contained rich private school world. She learns that sometimes fair is just not going to happen and you just need to move on. She learns that even though your friends can be unfair and cruel, you still miss them and love them. She misses the things she lost, and knows that the new things she came to appreciate cannot replace the losses. She learns that the happy ending is not always in the works for you, and that's okay.
In short, she gets some (not very fun) lessons in adulthood. Things do not get magically great for her in the end, but they do get better.
This book is written for teens, but it's not juvenile. It does not gloss over the 'uncomfortable' subjects - we get frank and positive expressions of teenage sexuality (including a footnote about oral sex and some quite long boob-squeeze), we get a couple of f-bombs and a scene of underage drinking without serious consequences.

The writing is very good. Overlying all the serious messages is the clear, snarky, and hilarious voice of Ruby, quirky and generously endowed with a sense of humor. There are smart references, a healthy dose of self-deprecation, funny anecdotes in the footnotes, adorable love notes from Jackson, and caring, well-meaning but absolutely clueless parents arguing whether Ruby has an eating disorder during her panic attack.
It's a refreshingly honest and funny book with a believable and relatable imperfect protagonist, with the writing that keeps you engaged in the story until the end. A light read with surprising depth. 4 stars. And I already got my hands on the next story in the series!
"I was hoping there’d be a set of guidelines handed out in Sex Ed class, but Sex Ed—when I finally got to take it — was all about biology and birth control and nothing about anything that actually goes on between people. Like how to tell what it means when someone forgets to call you when he said he would, or what to do when someone gropes your boob in a movie theater."

Recommended by: Catie
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,921 reviews290k followers
May 27, 2011
I remember being 12 years old and thinking I was pretty much awesomeness personified for reading books like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights when all the other kids were reading Roald Dahl. Since then I seem to be going backwards and reading all the books I should have read prior to my 16th birthday, like Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging and also this one. And I love them! It just goes to show how a book doesn't have to be a couple of centuries old and a household name to be awesome.

I loved Ruby Oliver and, as a former clueless adolescent myself, I also understood her. She doesn't colour over the truth, in fact her voice is refreshingly honest and so so funny. E. Lockhart, for me, seems very good at portraying the newfound sexuality of a young girl, like with the realisation that, not only does Ruby not slap him and yell "ewww!" when Cabbie feels her up in the cinema, she actually likes it (shock, horror!). I think this is a great novel for teenage girls (and boys too, if they so wish), it addresses the 'slut' issue with humour and without being all up-in-your-face feminazi. It made me laugh and held underlying messages - it was always going to be a winner!

It's probably a 5 star read if I'm honest but I always like to wait until I've read more when it's only the first in a series. Either way, thank you Tatiana for the reviews that made me read this great book.
Profile Image for Regina.
625 reviews382 followers
May 9, 2012
I am not sure why, but this book took me completely by surprise. The reviews for this book rated it highly and I knew the narration was reported to be fantastic. But I still got my socks knocked off. This book hooked me from the beginning. What this book is about at its core is a young girl (sophomore in high school) navigating the social mine field of high school and trying to make sense of her female friendships and her relationships with boys.

The setting is perfect – a private school, a scholarship student, a boat house for the main character’s home, some very involved, loving but extremely quirky parents, and lots of mistakes, missteps and misunderstandings. All together, it makes a book that is incredibly funny and enlightening. E. Lockhart really really really hits on what it is like to be a 15 year old girl. Relationships with other girls are so intense at that age, love affairs in a way – but they can be treacherous. And relationships with the opposite sex is a complete mystery, every step brings a new learning moment. This book could just be light and funny and it is definitely that. But it also has serious character growth that brings readers along for the ride. Through Ruby Oliver’s examination of her boyfriend list, she examines what it means to be a true friend, what is the meaning of popularity, how girls get labeled slut, the true actions of betrayal, and that it feels good to have one’s boobs fondled. Yup, all important topics. E. Lockhart has a serious talent of leading Ruby and the reader down the path of enlightenment but doing it in a very fun way (for the reader, for Ruby it is actually quite painful and embarrassing) so that it doesn’t feel like I was learning. Side note, there is even a beautiful feminist discussion on the effect of labeling a female, how men do not get labeled in a similar way, and why this is -- E. Lockhart does this brilliantly by having a teacher discuss this topic in a class presentation, so that it does not come off preachy at all. I have a soft spot for this particular issue and I thought it was really well handled.

What was surprising for me was that I ended up identifying with both Ruby Oliver (the lead in this story) and her parents. I hope that I am not quite as boundary ignoring, invasive and quirky as Ruby’s parents were but through them I saw two people who truly loved their daughter and wanted to stay involved in her life. I saw myself talking to my teenager, trying to appear (hopelessly I am sure) cool, try to convey love and yet respect those important boundaries. Raising a teenager is such hard work. This book is a tad bit mature for my 12.5 year old but in a few years I cannot wait for her to read it and then I will ask her, “How did this make you feel?” And she will roll her eyes and walk away. But I will smile, because in a way we will have shared a moment.

I recommend this book for anyone who has been a teenager, who has a teenager, and who likes to laugh.
Profile Image for Tink Magoo is bad at reviews.
1,240 reviews184 followers
February 10, 2017
I've had a good run with young adult/ high school based books lately, so my hopes were high for this one. Sadly they were dashed by girlish kissing fantasies and daisy filled daydreams. Okay, it wasn't exactly like that, but near enough compared my teenage years.

This certainly has a charm that will appeal to a lot of people; maybe those who aren't as jaded, sarcastic and generally inappropriate as I am. See, my biggest problem was being unable to relate to any of the characters. Granted it's been awhile since I was at school, but I still feel 16/17 in my head so whatever.

I spent my days at abandoned factories with lots of boys, covered in mud and playing truth or dare. The first penis I saw was a result of that game and in fact wasn't just one penis, it was 6, all flapping about as their owners tried to win a race with their trousers round their ankles. Oh, those were the days.

So you see, I wasn't like Ruby. That was my point. I got distracted by the willy Olympics. I should probably mention the book again.

Yes, so. The book. I will say this was well written and had some really sweet, humorous moments. A lot of people will be able to relate to Ruby, just not this pervert.
Profile Image for Noelle.
373 reviews247 followers
February 20, 2017
I'm not sure why it is so hard for me to articulate my E. Lockhart appreciation. It may be because every time I think of the Ruby Oliver books I pretty much do this:

Weeks later these books are still bringing a smile to my face. I loved the underlying themes of self-discovery and self-respect. E. Lockhart has this fantastic way of making universal experiences so poignantly personal. I adored Ruby. Her adventures will always have a special place in my book-lovin' heart.
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,162 followers
April 22, 2012
I can sum up my entire experience reading The Boyfriend List in one word: cathartic. If you don't already have a shrink, you'll probably realize you need to get one after reading this book (or if you're broke like me, the Ruby Oliver books will do just fine). The Boyfriend List isn't your usual contemporary romance. I admit that halfway through the first chapter I declared myself Team Noel (still shipping those two after the book was over but more on that later) but really this book is all Team Ruby.

Fifteen-year-old Ruby Oliver is having a horrible week. Her boyfriend of six months broke up with her, her best friend started dating her now ex-boyfriend three days later, she has become a "leper" or a loner, and her once perfect reputation has been completely tarnished. Ruby, unable to deal with the current situation of her life, begins expressing her pain and worry in the form of panic attacks. Before she knows it, she's sitting in Dr. Z, her therapist's office, and being told to make a list: The Boyfriend List. Ruby's story is told through her multiple shrink appointments, stories of fifteen guys she's ever liked/kissed/dated, and flashbacks of her life before it became a disaster.

From the surface, The Boyfriend List seems like a fluffy and fun read - which it is! But its also so much more. The depth of emotions conveyed and character personalities utterly astounded me. Lockhart writes from a fresh, realistic voice that is easy to relate to. Ruby, despite being the main character, is far from perfect. She continually makes the same mistakes with guys, she fails to see true friendship when it's in front of her eyes, and she yearns for her own Prince Charming called Tommy Hazard. Yet, Ruby is like every other girl in the world. Who hasn't made mistakes with guys? Who hasn't been able to reach their hand out to friendship even when it's right in front of their face? Who doesn't dream about "The One" or their "Mr. Right"? Every girl, no matter what age, will be able to inexplicably relate to Ruby and the debacles she finds herself in.

Although Ruby's story is primarily told through the list of boys she writes, it is mainly about friendship, honesty, and truth. Through her appointments with Dr. Z, Ruby is able to uncover the raw truth behind every one of her problems whether they be regarding her best friend Kim, who holds her emotions inside until they burst; her parents, who are stuck in an ever-raging power struggle; or even herself, who is unable to rectify the mistakes she has made and be open with her feelings. More than just a book, The Boyfriend List is like "The Ultimate Girl's Guide to Life." While reading about Ruby, you will find yourself feeling as if you are reading about yourself. Ruby's mistakes are your mistakes. Ruby's friends faults are your friend's faults. Ruby's relationship with her parents is bound to be at least remotely similar to your relationship with your parents. It still shocks me how Ruby's story can correlate so perfectly with that of my, or any other girls, own.

The Boyfriend List is a must-read for every girl out there. It is sarcastic, funny, and emotionally-cleansing. It is written in a fun and engaging manner, Ruby's 'voice' is relate-able and refreshing, and most importantly, the ending is realistic and full of promise for more. If there's one thing I've learned from this book, it's that bottling up your emotions is definitely not the solution. So, with my new-found sense of emotional truthfulness I tell you this: Read. This. Book. NOW! There's no way you can't fall in love with it! ;)
Profile Image for Stacia (the 2010 club).
1,045 reviews3,935 followers
May 6, 2012
Therapy - how people used to work through problems before Facebook existed. Nowadays people tend to talk about how much their life sucks on a social network until enough people pop in to console them. Ruby has a therapist, half the world has a Facebook, and I just have Goodreads.
Reviewing as therapy : Everything you absolutely didn't want to know about my life made available for you to read about in print.

This book made me feel a little bit disturbed about my own high school existence. The end notes at the end of the book had the author relaying this - In high school, I used to keep a list of all the boys I ever kissed. There were little hearts dotting the is and everything!

I so can't relate to that. Unless there was a book for how many times you'd cut class to go drinking or hook up with a guy. If that was the case, I could have filled a few books (on cutting, not hook-ups. I didn't actually hook up quite enough times to fill volumes or anything).

It's all too possible that my now-fading memories of high school are much more badass than reality actually was but for the most part, my life in high school was much more like Perfect Chemistry than it was Ruby Oliver's life. I didn't have cutesy friends who pondered things like boob grabbing and such. That said, I do applaud the author for trying to portray the thought process of girls. Even though I couldn't personally relate to the majority of the book, it was a fun and cute read. The scenes with Ruby's parents were funny because my parents have had some of those "moments."

This book also makes me wonder what it would have been like if I was parenting girls instead of boys. This is exactly how a conversation would go in my house between my husband and teen son :

In fact, I can positively say that this exact conversation has happened before. I honestly don't think Ruby Oliver was ever going to have this conversation with her parents!

I came back to add more to my review after realizing that all I did was talk about myself and not the book. It's as if I was channeling a Ruby-esque therapy session. Something else that also popped into my head tonight is that maybe I honestly can relate more to Ruby than I'd originally thought. If anything, I probably act more like a teenager now than I did when I was actually a teen. At this stage in my life, there's less to be afraid of and if I'm caught dotting some letters with hearts, who cares? I really should get back into letter writing...talk about a lost art form.

Yes, rambling is my weapon of choice today. What can I say about the book itself? It's quirky. The footnotes are hilarious. Normally, books written in alternate formats such as letter, diary, etc. are a deterrent for me. I thought the use of a therapist format in this book was creative. I have no clue how book 2 is going to go...if it follows the same pattern or not. We shall see.

Ruby is a character :

~ I say, thirteen is too many dogs for good mental health. Five is pretty much the limit. More than five dogs and you forfeit your right to call yourself entirely sane.

~ All the grownups laughed when I said the bunny's name was Cox and I didn't understand why.

Profile Image for Zoe Stewart (Zoe's All Booked).
295 reviews1,476 followers
Want to read
December 5, 2019
I read this for the first time in high school, and I remember being just as annoyed by her shitty friends and parents as I was this time around. It was a decent book, but I wanted to punch nearly everyone the entire time. My teenage years didn't look anything like Ruby's, and honestly, I'm glad. Even when I read this for the first time, I remember wanting to shake her and tell her to stop focusing on being one of the "popular kids".

I swear, if this baby I'm carrying right now acts anything like 90% of these characters, I'm going to lose it. Most of them treated everyone like garbage.
Profile Image for Sydney Arvanitas.
272 reviews2 followers
November 18, 2022
Absolutely devastated to report that this book for 15 year olds is shockingly similar to my actual adult life.
Profile Image for Monique.
492 reviews
March 21, 2012

Since The Boyfriend List is a book about lists (15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs, and Me, Ruby Oliver), I think I'm going to go out of the box and write my thoughts on the book in enumeration form, too. My personal sub-title: 5 Reasons I Liked It, 3 Reasons I Didn't, And A Recommendation.

5 Reasons I Liked It:

1. It dealt with high school reality and teen angst/problems, much in the same manner that Stargirl (by Jerry Spinelli) did. Personally, I never experienced anything similar to what the protagonist, Ruby “Roo” Oliver, went through, but I can sympathize.

2. The writing was straightforward and simple, and given that it was told in the first person POV, the narrative was exactly like how a 16-year-old would have written it.

3. The situation that Roo found herself in elicited not only feelings of sympathy from me, but also disgust and outrage at the people she called her friends. I was affected by it! I was so angry for Roo!

4. In between the outrageous and the (sometimes) annoying, there was also the hilarious: Roo's mom, Elaine, a performing artist, having a show where she talked Roo first having her period, for example. It must have been humiliating to have your first period and having your own mother telling the world about it, but it's hilarious at the same time, when you think about it.

5. Although the ending could have been so much better, in my opinion, I thought that through her experiences, Roo has learned an important lesson in her young life.  I thought it was wonderful that within the period of an entire school year that she became part of the “in” crowd, had a cool boyfriend, was later on ostracized and called labels (“slut”, “leper”), and had panic attacks which required the shrink appointments, she had truly matured.

3 Reasons I Didn't:

1. I hated the footnotes! They tended to distract me from the narrative, especially footnotes that took up half of the page or continued on to the next.

2. While it was probably necessary that Roo's story was not told in chronological order, the author having resorted to a see-sawing between the past and the present in order to construct Roo's timeline, it nonetheless annoyed and confused me at times. There was a lot of overlapping of events, in fact, necessitating an explanation of the chronology of events from time to time. (“That was the Friday after the dance, so that would be one week before the so-and-so and three days after the so-and-so.” Something like that.)

3. I hated Roo's friends. Loathed them. Especially that Kim. GRRRRR!

A Recommendation:

I don't believe that you have to be able to relate to the characters of a book in order to appreciate it, and The Boyfriend List is a perfect example. Although I couldn't relate with any one character in it, I liked it because of the social issues that it dealt with: teenage angst, peer pressure, first love and heartbreak, ostracism, labels. Having said that, I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to take a trip down memory lane, back to their own high school years, and remember. :)

Original post here.
Profile Image for Cassi aka Snow White Haggard.
459 reviews155 followers
April 5, 2012
(Note this is a review for the first 3 books. Yes I know that's a lazy cop-out but I've read too many books to properly review lately. Also I'm not really sure why I took away a star and I'm considering giving it back)

When I first met Ruby Oliver at the local library, I thought the books looked pretty darned girly. Also it sounded a little bit too boy-crazy. Sometimes I get frustrated with all those true-love YA stories. I want to scream THERES MORE TO LIFE THAN BOYS! Besides, who finds true love in high school?

Oh how judgmental I am sometimes. This series is one of the best that I've read this year. This is not a mushy true love story. It's girly, but the right kind of girly. Ruby is witty, intelligent, neurotic, boy crazy and completely awesome.

I'm very impressed how these books touch upon some serious topics without taking themselves too seriously. Sometimes girls treat each other like competition rather than friends. The Ruby Oliver books navigates tough girl friendship situations with humor unlike anything I've seen. But at the same time they acknowledge that sometimes girls suck, especially where boys are concerned.

The story starts with Ruby in social exile because she kissed her (former) best friends boyfriend. Never mind that Jackson was Ruby's boyfriend first, or that Jackson kissed Ruby back. None of that matters because the school mob has deemed Ruby a boyfriend stealing slut. (Sidenote: Why is it that the boys are never to blame in these situations?)

Ruby's new found social leprosy leads to panic attacks, shrink visits and an unfortunate Xerox of her "Boyfriend list" created for her psychiatrist.

It's hard to list every reason I love these books. There's just so much to like. But you know I have to try!
1. Ruby's insightful and witty commentary about life
2. Neurotic hippie parents who live on a houseboat but clearly love their daughter very much
3. Misadventures and confusion with boys
4. Noel's fruit roll ups (the second and third book)
5. Hooter Protection Agency
6. The Boyfriend Book--insightful scientific observations of the male species
7. Non-preachy but important commentary on girl friendship and always blaming the girl
8. A main character who isn't perfect but is likable
9. Silly poems written by boys
10. Frogs laden with meaning
11. A goat named Robespierre
12. Ruby's addiction to making lists

Who cares about stars! This book gets a whole box of fruit roll-ups, value sized folks. (I am currently on a fruit roll-up binge so this is a high compliment). It's so much fun, but it's not mindless fun it's SMART fun. I cannot recommend this series enough.

If you like audio, these books are excellent. Please note that the narrator changes after book 1. They're still good, but the original narrator is amazing. After a few minutes I didn't really mind the new narrator.
Profile Image for Ellis.
446 reviews232 followers
August 23, 2016
So there I was, my mom yelling at me, Heidi talking crap about me, weirded out by the Noel dynamic, Angelo probably mad at me, Jackson thinking I was cheating on him/getting over him too quickly/generally skanky - and you'd think things couldn't get worse, but ha! It's my life. Things can always get worse.

It's really too bad I wasn't much of a reader during most of my teens, because there have been times when I seriously could have used some Ruby Oliver in my ridiculously confusing teenage life, even if it was just so I'd have someone to relate to.

I did actually read The Boyfriend List years ago in Dutch, but I was twelve or thirteen at the time, so boys were still playmates rather than datemates to me. (They still are, to be completely honest, though the connotation of playmate has shifted a little over time. You can judge. I judge Past Ellis all the time.) For some completely unintelligible and probably stupid - see, there we go with the Past Ellis judging - reason, I never continued qith the series. Because this is obviously a mistake I needed to rectify, I decided to make it my personal mission to binge the entire Ruby Oliver series this summer. This is a version of Past Ellis that will never be judged because her decision skills were flawless. I loved The Boyfriend List even more than I did nine or ten years ago.

Read the rest on The Random Transliterator.
Profile Image for Lightreads.
641 reviews520 followers
March 15, 2011
Described to me as one of the best high school girl romantic shenanigans confessionals out there. I think this might actually be true – high school was just ten years ago for me in real time, even if it was much longer in soultime, and this book feels very familiar and authentic to me. It just had no aliens. Or ghosts, or demons, or telepaths – basically, no one had to save the world, so it didn’t kick up to awesome for me.

That, and the much more important thing. The shtick here is that our narrator is talking to her therapist as part of her treatment for a mild anxiety disorder resulting from some difficult adolescent shenanigans. And the sessions are structured around the boys in her life, one chapter for each.

Yeah. This book is like the anti-Bechtel test. It’s about self-empowerment and speaking up and crediting your own desires, and the whole fucking thing is two women sitting there talking about nothing but men. The structure takes the empowering message, drags it out back and double-taps it to the forehead, then scribbles “boys boys boys!” all over its face in sparkly pen, is what I’m saying.
Profile Image for Karen ⊰✿.
1,347 reviews
January 6, 2018
I first came across E.Lockhart with We Were Liars which, to be honest, I preferred on the second read. I then read The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks which was fab and I decided that this is probably a writer for me. I like how she explores relationships and the inner workings of a teenage mind.
Although this book was just as clever, I really didn't like Ruby. She is one of those popular (but not 'most' popular) girls at school who is completely oblivious to others, and their feelings. So being in her head for the whole book was tough when she wasn't someone I would want to be friends with.
But it was an easy enough read, and she does actually make some progress by the end.
There are a few more books in the series, but I think I am done. I'll read something else by Lockhart instead
Profile Image for Maddie.
557 reviews1,136 followers
May 12, 2017
The Ruby Oliver books are like the American equivalent of the Georgia Nicholson books in the UK. The girls are just as obsessed with boys and relationships and drama, with the same type of humour and style. It's not really my thing, because the characters feel so immature and I was never that kind of 15 year old, so I don't think I'll finish the series.
Profile Image for ♥ Sarah.
539 reviews127 followers
October 16, 2014
My very own soundtrack for this book:
Crystal Fighters - You & I
The Lumineers - Charlie Boy
The Lumineers - Flowers in Her Hair
This, the Silent War - We Are Broken
Vance Joy - Riptide
MSMR - Bones
Banks - Waiting Game

Sometimes I get this urge to write stuff down.
Mundane day-to-day thoughts, to-do lists, to-read lists, to-buy lists, to-cook lists, to-gift lists, etc. (Clearly, I have a List Writing Addiction, or too much time on my hands.)
I’ve probably created and destroyed and revised a dozen or more “5-year plans” just this month.
I’m always changing my mind, but documenting the process.
I am a hopeless planner.
It’s just how I am.
Even if I have a tendency to change my mind. A lot.
I write lists because they give me clarity and purpose;
I just like knowing that I can plan things and then execute them.

Bottom line: I like being in control.
It’s most likely a neurotic-control-freak-perfectionist thing.
When I write something down, somehow it becomes real for me.
Almost like a promise.
A reminder on paper that I can touch and see.
A piece of me (an inconsequential, random thought in my head that I would probably forget forever) now a material part of the world.

But those are the easy things to write. Easy to control.

There are other things though, that I can’t quite seem to put into words – or on paper.

Like, those nostalgic days of your youth; the good memories and the bad. That "growing-up" process.

I wouldn’t know where or how to start writing about that stuff.

Sometimes I wonder if those days ever happened at all. Some of the stuff I “endured” seems so petty now. So inconsequential; I wish I could tell my younger self to suck-it-up; to not have been so overly sensitive and over-think things, to not have been so hard myself; to not have cared so much about what others thought of me; that it was okay that I made those mistakes - that no one is perfect; to forgive and not to have been so harsh; to not have gotten drunk that one night at that one party junior year, to never have fallen in love with that one boy, etc.

Other times, I wonder how I ever got through those maddening days – those early years of heartbreak and pain and betrayals and losses.

And then there are those happy memories of the firsts and the butterflies and the laughing and the carelessness and discovering a whole new world, of possibilities, and the what-if’s. Sometimes, I can’t even believe that was ME back then. That those things happened to me – and those memories belong to ME, not some character in a book, or in a movie, or from my fantasies.

This book does just that. It articulates all of the things you wish you could (but never could), into words, unto paper.

It takes you back to the days of your own firsts, then to the days of heartbreak, confusion, betrayal, teenage girl-drama, and of course – the bane and crux of existence in those days – boys. It takes you to that dark period in your life where you saw and felt and breathed only your misery. It forcibly keeps you in there, yet at the same time, makes you confront it and work through it.

Ruby ("Roo") was definitely not the perfect heroine, but I loved her so much more for her mistakes - her flaws - her insecurities; for her glaring honesty, her timely humor, her sarcasm, her unapologetic view on life and love and friendship; her unyielding loyalty, her overly sentimental, sensitive, over-thinking, over-explaining, push-over, boy-crazy list-making, panic-attack prone self. I loved her for it all. And I saw glimpses of myself, my story in hers. And I laughed. So much. But at the same time, felt like crying, too. E. Lockhart just has that magical writing quality.

I read and loved We Were Liars first. I know I’m 8 or so years late for this book, but never once did this book feel dated. Just like We Were Liars, the universal themes in this book – especially on loss and heartbreak was so beautifully captured in this brilliantly funny (foot-note included) coming-of-age story. Another exquisitely written YA gem; highly recommended!
Profile Image for Jasprit.
527 reviews732 followers
February 19, 2018
This book was such a refreshing read, I'd gone into it thinking that it'd be a sort of young read for me, but I'm glad that this wasn't the case for me at all. It did take me some time getting used to Ruby and what was going on in her life, but once I got into The Boyfriend List I absolutely adored Ruby. She was such refreshing character, her voice and everything that she was going through just spoke volumes for me. What she had to go through was truly awful, the turn of events and how people turned on her, (I also had an inkling about this one particular character and just wished Ruby had been able to realise what a douche they were earlier on) just made me super mad. But despite the lacklustre events and panic attacks that Ruby still attempted to hold her head up high, it couldn't have been easy for anyone for things to change so dramatically in a week. I liked how through seeing a therapist Ruby was able to take a step back and truly see what was going on with her life, the self-reflections and realisations could be daunting at first, but I appreciated the person Ruby became by the end of this book. Lockhart bought so much depth to this book with Ruby's story and gave us such a realistic portrayal of what a teenage life can be like. What I also enjoyed about this book was that despite things hitting the fan with Ruby, Lockhart still managed to bring so much laughter and fun to the story, Ruby was also such a funny character, that you couldn't but laugh at some of the situations she found herself in. The addition of footnotes I did find confusing at first, but this may have been because I was reading the e-book version, and I had to keep flipping back and forth to find the right footnote reference, but after this initial confusion, I couldn't get enough of them! The Boyfriend List was a great start to a new series for me, I can't wait to continue with Ruby's Journey in the next book!
September 2, 2018
This was actually a lot more enjoyable than I thought it would be!

For starters, it was a really quick and easy read. The only reason it took me longer to finish it was because I had a busy weekend and didn't really have the time to sit down and pick it up most of the time - otherwise, I'd be done with it in under three hours, tops.

Secondly, it was such a light and funny story. It wasn't laugh out loud funny, though, more like a "smiling throughout" and "the occasional chuckle" kind of funny, which is perfectly fine in my book.

Ruby (or "Roo") probably reminds a lot of readers of their own teenage selves and I am no exception. While some of the things that happened in the book sometimes frustrated me and made me want to roll my eyes, they were exceedingly real. I remember acting like Ruby and thinking like Ruby when I was that age, and reading about it made me realise just how naive and idiotic we can all be at that age! (Again, perfectly fine and real.)

I also suffered a bit with anxiety and panic attacks when I was younger (still do, but on a much lesser scale), so I could definitely relate to the symptons and the way it was described. I still felt it was a subject that wasn't explored enough, however, and instead took a back seat while the romance and teenage angst/drama remained center stage. It was one of the things I would have liked the author to have explored more and really made it seem like a big issue to Roo - most of the time, it felt like an afterthought of a plot device. I felt it was brushed off a bit too much and not given the attention/importance it deserved, which was a bit disappointing.

Instead, we get all these teenage issues that make it seem like the world is about to end at any moment and/or everyone is out there to get you: the complicated relationships, the path to finding yourself and understanding your place in the world, the confusion surrounding you almost 24/7 and the thought that you are never good enough/are not going something right yet have no idea what that something is. Things that you will only learn later on actually matter very little in the grand scheme of things.

I thought that was well portrayed and we get all these interesting characters with a story to tell. The book definitely touches on worthy topics, yet had some trouble exploring them properly. I get that this is YA and it's supposed to be a very light novel with a carefree undertone to it, and delving into any of those topics at a deeper level would probably create the exact opposite effect: a gloomy, depressing and very triggering contemporary. And I was perfectly okay with it not going that way, either. But a bit more development would have been nice.

One other thing I had mixed feelings about were the footnotes. They were a peculiar enough addition but most of the time they explained what I (and probably half the planet) already knew and/or just felt redundant. Funny at times, though.

This certainly gave me an Easy A/The Scarlet Letter sort of vibe, which was interesting even if it was not the central focus of the story. I also liked the ending - I was expecting something completely different and predictable but the author thankfully didn't go there! I know there are still more books in this series so there's a lot of space for improvement and/or development (and also space for the author to screw up a perfectly cool message!) but I'm not sure I'll be reading those any time soon.

My teenage self would have enjoyed these books immensely but at this stage in my life they are really just meant to amuse me and take me out of a reading slump. Which it absolutely did, so no complaints there! Even though I devoured it in a few hours, it really is nothing amazing or earth-shattering... But it's not meant to me and that's okay.

* This was book #2 in the O.W.L.s Readathon * Arithmacy Completed! *

3.5/5 stars
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,211 reviews1,649 followers
December 11, 2012
When I started reading this, I added it on Goodreads and sort of scrolled through reviews, not reading them but eyeing the ratings. For most books, my friends reach a sort of general consensus; with The Boyfriend List, the ratings varied from one star to five. Thankfully, I fell on the higher end of the spectrum, a relief since I just bought the complete series in a fit of no will power.

The variety in opinions on this book makes perfect sense, though. How you feel about The Boyfriend List will likely have a direct correlation to how you feel about the MC, Ruby Oliver. Ruby has a very distinct way of expressing herself and somewhat controversial opinions. If she annoys you, the book will be utter hell. However, if you think she's hilarious and makes good points and maybe reminds you of your high school self, you'll think she and this book are the best ever.

Though I did not personally identify with Ruby, I did think that she was funny most of the time, with occasional forays into whininess or melodrama, though these fit her personality and her situation perfectly. The Boyfriend List revolves around a series of panic attacks Ruby had, leading her parents to send her to a therapist. Her therapist asked her to draw up a list of boys for them to discuss. Thus the list was born, ultimately with some Harriet the Spy kind of consequences.

What Lockhart got just right is the teenage drama. Ruby feels so much like a teenage girl, with her own misconceptions, weird slang and inability to deal with being a social outcast. Having a boyfriend matters so much. Her own world matters so much, and she has a lot of trouble seeing past her own issues. Her parents fight all the time, but she can't really see that until therapy, and the same goes for her friends' issues too. Ruby has blinders on, and it's wonderful to watch her gain new perspective on the world in her conversations with her shrink.

The romantic drama herein depicted may seem a bit like the absurdity of Gossip Girl or Glee, where the same twelve characters keep swapping boyfriends in an endless spiral of jealousy, betrayal and infidelity. However, Tate, Ruby's school, is this tiny prep school full of rich kids (except for Ruby, who's on scholarship); there just aren't that many fish in the dating pool. I went to a very small college, and one guy dated three girls out of the twelve on my freshman hall, so that kind of stuff does happen, though there was no drama with our instance. They're stuck in a small school with lots of hormones and not many people with whom to exercise them.

The other awesome thing about Ruby Oliver is that it's not romanticizing teens or trying to depict them as innocent or sex as awful. Ruby discusses sex openly and with overt fascination. She and her friends discuss boys and all of their exploits and that's just so much how life goes down; we all share the details with our best friends.

Now, this really does not affect my opinion of the novel or mean anything to those who have not read this book, but I still need to get this off my chest: Kim and Jackson are major d-bags. Jackson especially. He's a serial boyfriend, dumping one girl and immediately lining up the next (or already having her waiting). Kim may be a big proponent of "The Rules," and, yes, Ruby broke them too, but Kim stepped out of line first. She can talk about fate or how it only just happened all she wanted, but she is lying. Ruby needs to get those two awful people out of her heart entirely and out of her life as much as is possible at Tate.

The Boyfriend List is a humorous, sassy contemporary, sure to delight those who delight in misadventure, pop culture references, and romantic drama.
Profile Image for Rose.
1,854 reviews1,046 followers
November 24, 2012
Initial reaction: I really liked this, and found many moments where I just wanted to give Ruby Oliver a big hug. She goes through a lot of ups and downs in her relationships in the course of the work, and I definitely felt the bumps in the road along with her. That's not to say that I thought this work was perfect. There were aspects of it that I couldn't completely throw myself into, and I think I may need a little while to think about how to best explain those. Still, I'm all for continuing this series. I'm too invested in Ruby's story to stop.

Full review:

"The Boyfriend List" is a young adult chick-lit novel with a lot of heart, showing the journey of one young woman who endures a rough week of navigating her relationships, family life, and ultimately trying to find ways to be honest with herself as well as the people around her. I did not expect to enjoy this novel as much as I did, but it was well worth the journey. It's a tough read in spurts, and I'll admit it takes the reader out of the comfort zone of one of your typical cutesy reads and showcases some of the flaws that the heroine has while running her through some rough patches.

Ruby Oliver is a sweetheart, and its easy to get to know her through the course of the novel. Though when we meet her in the beginning of the novel, she's had one of the worst weeks of her life and suffers from panic attacks, thus needing to see a shrink to deal with her respective problems. One of the requirements in her therapy sessions is to craft a "boyfriend" list. So she crafts a list of every boy she's had a relationship with (even those whom she's never exactly talked to, but still had an impression of some sort with). We learn a lot about Ruby's respective relationships, and in the moments they go wrong, they go VERY wrong.

But Ruby is a resilient young lady. While things in her life seem to hit the wall many a time, and she's both betrayed and inadvertently hurts quite a few people along the way, she finds a way to push through, both in her therapy sessions and in her life. This book presents many lessons on the art of acceptance and letting go. That's a lesson that even adults have a hard time swallowing, so with some of the things Ruby faces in this book - I wanna hug her, not just in light of the tough times, but how she ultimately learns to rise above it.

I did have a few qualms about "The Boyfriend List" in retrospect, though. I kinda wish the ending of this book had a little more closure. I kept thinking there would be a little more resolution, but alas that point didn't really tie off as well as I was hoping. I'll admit I was also frustrated at how transparent the other characters were at times), but ultimately, I think for what the novel was showing in its real approach to issues in dating, relationships, friendships, and self-acceptance, it worked.

I think teens will certainly enjoy this eye-opening read, and I definitely enjoyed what it brought to the table. I found it cute, funny, eye-opening, and with a strong backbone to the themes it tackles. Certainly recommended, and I can't wait to read more in E. Lockhart's respective series.

Overall score: 4/5
Profile Image for Peep (Pop! Pop!).
418 reviews47 followers
January 8, 2013
OK, I tried, I really did. I listened to the whole thing from the beginning to the end and I just didn't like it. I can see how others would like it, but for me I didn't. I just don't care for stories with boy crazy girls. It's just not the kind of books that I tend to like. You may ask, “if you don't like such stories, then why read this one in the first place?” Easy, I suspected I didn't and finishing this confirmed my suspicions. Also, because I can! “Hmm, OK then, so because of the subject you didn't like it?” Well yes and no. I didn't like it because I'd rather not read about teens and their semi sex lives. It's not for me. I don't want to read about how being 13 is sooo incredibly old for your first kiss. That's just me though. Totally not judging anyone who enjoyed the book for what it was.

I started out with the print book but ended up setting it aside. I couldn't get into the story and the sheer amount of footnotes was just insane. But one of the ladies here on GR (Heidi!) really enjoyed the book and wanted me to try it out. I decided to pick up the audio because I'm kind of addicted to audiobooks. I enjoyed the narrator, Mandy Seigfried. This was my first time hearing her as a narrator and I thought she did a great job. She made Roo sound so realistic. She definitely made the book easier for me to digest.

I thought Ruby had pretty crappy and dense friends. Not very supportive and too quick to let a guy come between them. Plus, if ever a friend kisses someones boyfriend, there's equal blame. Her parents should have taken a step back and gave their daughter a talk about self esteem and why it's important. At least help her find a guy that will respect her and treat her like a dude should.

In the end, I did not hate it, but I did not like it. Though I didn't think it was as funny as almost all the other readers, I can see how Roo would be very enjoyable for most. I have no one that I would recommend it to. I have not given up on the author, and actually have another one of her books here waiting for me to read.
Profile Image for Carly.
134 reviews22 followers
August 9, 2007
Before I write a detailed review, I think I should make it clear that I fell HARD for this book right from the first page. I am blindly and irregretably in love with it, and I think it's probably an irrational love, so everything I say about it should be taken with a grain of salt.

I have never fallen in love with a book before like I fell in love with this one, right from the beginning and never letting up, only growing more and more intense as time and pages went on. The book is like someone you just think is so wonderful that you can't bear to see their faults, no matter how horrible they are, no matter how glaring, no matter what. Anything misshapen or incorrect or thoughtless simply appears as charmingly artistic.

I would give this book six stars if I could. I want to go out and buy it right now. In hardcover. It would be worth every penny. I would drive for hours to buy this book. There is something so, so beautiful about it and I can't even explain it. It resonates with me. It IS me, in a way.

The author really has a way with names. Every name in this book is delicate and a work of art. I hold everyone else up to Tim O'Brien's standard of naming characters, because I think he is and always will be the absolute master of picking beautiful, perfect names for his characters. E. Lockhart comes alarmingly close to Tim O'Brien's naming finesse with the characters in this book. Ruby Oliver. Cricket McCall. Kim Yamamoto. Jackson Clarke. Noel DuBoise. Shiv Neel. Finn Murphy. Tommy Hazard.

I physically feel my heart expanding when I think about this book. I don't know. For me, I really think it is otherworldly.
Profile Image for Sylwia.
1,132 reviews27 followers
September 3, 2018
Why I Recommend Moving This UP On Your TBR:
· The narrative examined a lot of harmful topics in an enlightened way, for example girl-hate is explored, as is the word "slut", etc.
· This contains an abundance of thought-provoking topics.
· It provides education for readers about certain harmful social behaviors they might be engaging in that hurt others and themselves that they might not even realize.
· The story is well-crafted in that it's unpredictable and all of the chapters weave together well. I especially appreciated the way the author used the parents.
· I loved the way the author structured the story around "the list".
· The portrayal of a therapist and therapy was great!

Depending On Your Personal Preferences:
· All of the characters are extremely flawed in believable ways that are appropriate for their age/development.
· This contains a psychoanalytic take on anxiety, rather than the common cognitive-behavioral take that's used now.
· This is a break-up story, not a love story.
· There is a lot of distance between the reader and all of the other characters. We are stuck deeply in Ruby's head.

Why You Might Move This Down On Your TBR:
· Ruby says some unenlightened stuff about folks who go to therapy. This seems to have been meant as a way to make Ruby a relatable teenager to younger audiences reading it, but it can be harmful.
Profile Image for Arlene.
1,155 reviews643 followers
July 18, 2010
E. Lockhart definitely delivered a heartfelt book with laugh out loud moments that captured my attention and sympathy from cover to cover.

The Boyfriend List has what it takes to have you falling for the main character Ruby “Roo” Oliver as her life at Tate Prep turns upside down when her boyfriend dumps her, she begins to suffer from anxiety attacks and ultimately becomes a patient of Dr. Z to deal with her angst. Well you think when she begins to seek counsel, her life will begin to get back on track. Not so much. As part of her therapy, she writes a list of fifteen boys that ever meant something to her and makes the grand mistake of throwing her draft copy away in the trash… at school. You’ll have to read the book to figure out why that was such a huge mistake. AG!!!!

I loved the book. It was fun, quick to read, engaging and worth every minute I spent angsting over Roo's life. I definitely recommend this to fans of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, as you'll quickly identify the voice Lockhart pens so well of a strong, flawed and vulnerable teenage girl. I loved it!
Profile Image for Joanna.
85 reviews16 followers
April 22, 2008
I was afraid I wouldn't love this book as much the 2nd time--but it's possible I loved it more. I think this book makes my all-time top 20. If I weren't so sleepy, I could wax eloquently about all the qualities that make The Boyfriend List close to perfect; instead, I give you this excerpt, when Ruby Oliver goes on a movie date with a boy she barely knows:

"About a quarter into it, Cabbie put his arm around me and, seconds later, he dangled his right hand down over my shoulder and squeezed my boob! We'd hardly even had a conversation before that night--but he went straight for the boob squeeze as if it was the most normal thing in the world.[...] He ended up feeling my boob for the whole movie! He ate popcorn with his left hand and got lucky with his right. It started to feel kind of lopsided, for the right one to get literally an hour and a half's worth of attention and the left one to be all on its lonesome. I barely knew what the movie was about, because I was thinking about my boob the whole time. My boob, being stroked by a near-complete stranger, a big meaty rugby player."

Profile Image for Alaina.
5,921 reviews216 followers
February 7, 2021
So this is super awkward because The Boyfriend List has been on my TBR since 2016. Luckily for me, it just took my brain 5 years to finally prioritize the book. Oops?

I feel like today might be a 'meh' book day because the two books that I've finished so far had long boring moments that dragged me through the mud. At least I made it through.. I guess? It's just so weird because the beginning was pretty likable and I thought this was going to be a good book. Boy, was I completely wrong.

None of the characters were likable. Yup, none. I somehow found something unlikable about them pretty early on. With Ruby she was just super sensitive to things and it was just really frustrating for me to read anything about her. Mostly because I'm the complete opposite due to my parents never sugar coating anything to me my whole life. Now Ruby wasn't the only annoying character within this book but if I dive into each and everyone and why I didn't like them.. well, I would probably run out of room for this review.

Other than being annoyed, it did have a few funny moments here and there but it didn't matter to me at all at one point. I just wanted the book done and over with and now I'm free to dive into any book that I please.

Profile Image for Blue.
216 reviews78 followers
May 15, 2020
The book was okay but there was no real resolution at the end. I think the book would have been much better if in the end she makes up with at least some of her old friends or some of the guys. The book was also kinda boring at times, I feel like nothing really happened.
Profile Image for Tara ☽.
298 reviews233 followers
June 16, 2020
My man Noel really out here smoking in the middle of school and never getting his ass whooped for it 😳
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