Ruby Oliver Rules: ‘The Boyfriend List’ by E. Lockhart

Would you believe that The Boyfriend List is the first E. Lockhart book I’ve read? I know, I know. As a person who writes about YA on a weekly basis, sometimes I’m ashamed of the gaps in my reading knowledge. People are always talking about how fantastic, funny and smart E. Lockhart’s books are, so I picked up a copy of The Boyfriend List and now I can finally join in the conversation. Even if my only contribution to the conversation is, “This book IS great, you were all right!”

When The Boyfriend List begins, our girl Ruby Oliver is starting to see a therapist named Dr. Z. Dr. Z says that Ruby’s recent string of panic attacks is enough to count as a panic disorder, but in Ruby’s defense, she’s been dealing with a lot lately. Not only did she lose her boyfriend, but she also lost her best friend…and all of her other friends. And now there’s graffiti about her on the girls’ bathroom wall. I’d be pretty upset if there was graffiti about me on the bathroom wall, too, but since my romantic history is a little less exciting than Ruby’s, my graffiti would probably just be like, “What’s up with that weird girl? Why’s she always reading?” Which is really more factual than upsetting.

Anyway, Dr. Z. tells Ruby to make a list of all the boys in her life. Not just official boyfriends, but anyone she’s kissed, almost dated or had a crush on. And while the list is supposed to help her, it actually ends up getting her in even more trouble.

As Ruby goes through every guy on her list, from preschool up to the present day, we learn all about her, her friends and her weird, crazy parents. Some of the guys are jerks, some of them are forgettable and some of them are pretty dreamy. Like, for example, the guy who caused most of her problems, Jackson Clarke. What a name! He even sounds dreamy! When you read the funny notes he leaves for Ruby, you can definitely understand why she’s so head-over-heels for him, even if he might not be the best guy in the world.

Even though this book is called The Boyfriend List, it isn’t really a romance. It isn’t about some guy coming in at the end to rescue Ruby and ride off with her into the panic-attackless sunset. Instead, The Boyfriend List deals with Ruby learning about herself and becoming more aware of the mistakes she’s making and the way she treats people. Ruby has a ton of great qualities (funny, smart, unique, sweet glasses, clearly a boy magnet), but as she learns from going through her list, she also has some flaws to work on. I wouldn’t say the book necessarily has a happy ending, but it definitely has a satisfying ending. We get the feeling that Ruby Oliver is going to do awesome things, whether or not she adds more names to her boyfriend list.


-Ruby lives on a houseboat. That’s right, a houseboat. Is there any cooler type of housing? Airstream trailers and log cabins get pretty close, but nothing is as great as a houseboat. I might mostly think this because of the movie Houseboat, which makes living on a houseboat look super cool and full of Cary Grant. Chances are, it’s not that awesome in real life (and I wouldn’t be magically transformed into Sophia Loren, unfortunately), but I still imagine that it’s pretty amazing.

-Ruby’s parents are crazy and weird without being stereotypical wacky parents. Her mom is a performance artist, “which means that she does these long monologues about herself and her life and her opinions about public policy and bug zappers.” Also, her show is called Elaine Oliver: Feel the Noise! which might actually be the best name for anything ever.

The Boyfriend List is actually part of a series, which means that there are three more glorious Ruby Oliver books to read. Awesome!

What about you guys? Have you read The Boyfriend List or anything else by E. Lockhart? Let me know in the comments! And, as always, I love to hear your suggestions for books to feature in Young Adult Education. Leave a comment, email me at [email protected] or find me on Twitter @KerryAnn.