Ruby is having panic attacks. Her boyfriend has broken up with her, none of her friends are speaking with her, her ride to school won’t take her anymore, and her parents are sure she is feeling suicidal or anorexic. Welcome to the story of The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart, a masterful look inside the life of a teenage girl. This girl is every girl. Reading this book was like looking back at parts of my past, and it was amazing and painful to take the journey with her.
Lockhart writes truthfully on the way a girl thinks about boys. Ruby reveals pieces of her life one bit at a time. Her therapist asks her to create a boyfriend list: a list of every guy she has liked, dated, thought about dating, kissed, or had a special relationship with. Ruby isn’t sure how this is going to help her solve her immediate problem: getting her boyfriend back and getting life back to normal. But as she examines each boy on the list, Ruby may discover she’s not the victim she thinks she is.
Lockhart is spot on. Ruby is like a poster child for the things women do to screw up their lives. We fall for a guy, and when he doesn’t end up being prince charming, what do we do? We beg, plead, cajole, manipulate, and lower ourselves–do anything but the thing we should do, pack our bags and move on. I wanted to be hard on her, but she is so dang sympathetic it’s impossible.
I think this book has it all: teenage angst, unhealed wounds, a journey of self-discovery, a lot of pain, and also hope for the future. Also, I think most girls would admit they could relate to at least one of the stories in this book.
Here are things I have done that Ruby did:
- Wait by the phone for a guy to call
- Allow myself to be a victim of heartbreak
- Flirt with one of my friend’s boyfriends
- Not be honest with myself about my motives
- Kiss a guy to make myself feel better
- Feel tremendous pain at betrayal
- Not take action to change my future
I have to hand it to Ruby, though, she does make progress eventually, as everyone must if they want to heal. As I was reading this book, I was thinking it was similar to the book/movie High Fidelity. In that story, the male protagonist tries to discover the answer to the age-old question “Why does this always happen to me?” by looking back on his 5 most painful break-ups. Like Ruby, he even asks some of the women directly, “Why did you break up with me?” In each case, Rob discovers it wasn’t just because he was unlovable or ugly, but rather a case of the wrong time or a misunderstanding or some such thing.
E. Lockhart has a great future as a writer, and I recommend this book highly to any teenage girl from age 14 and up.