Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Boyfriend List - E. Lockhart

Fifteen-year-old Ruby "Roo" Oliver is having a tough year at Tate Prep. Through a series of social debacles, she loses her best friends, her boyfriend, her dignity, and the respect of her fellow Taters in less than two weeks' time. Following nearly half a dozen panic attacks, Roo starts to spend some quality time on Doctor Z.'s couch, where she makes (at her shrink's urging) a list of boyfriends past and present, official and unofficial, and starts on a journey of self-discovery. Along the way, Ruby begins to think about patterns in her life and ways that she might be more like her mother than she'd care to admit. Fortunately, Ruby survives her traumatic exile and lives to tell the tale.

Doctor Z asks Roo to create "The Boyfriend List," as she suspects it might be a good place to start in figuring out where Roo's panic attacks are coming from.  A reasonable assumption considering the fact that Roo had her first attack right after her boyfriend, Jackson, broke up with her.  Thus the "list" is born and contains over 15 names, from serious relationship-worthy boy interactions to inconsequential ones. 

Each chapter is about a boy on the list, as Roo takes the reader through the progression of why and how the boy made the list.  You would think this would create a random and disconnected story, but it's actually quite the reverse.  It doesn't seem, at first, that these random boys and their encounters with Roo will ever end up relating to anything, but when it's all said and done, each one contributes to the story's "big picture" in a significant way.  Kudos to Lockhart for being able to take something that is seemingly so random and to make such excellent connections that move her story forward and bring Roo to self-discovery.

Although the story is, as stated previously, largely focused on Roo's journey of self-discovery, Lockhart is able to take us through that journey in such a way as to have me, literally, in tears... from constant laughter.  There are very few books out there that actually make me laugh aloud, but this was definitely one of them.  Roo's first person narrative is so hysterical.  Just the way she phrases things, the irreverent bluntness of her internal's refreshing, honest, and extremely entertaining.

This is the first of a four book series of Roo's adventures through her boyfriend list and her panic attacks, leading the reader to the final conclusion yet to come.  I will be picking up the other books.  This one was definitely worth the read!

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