Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Boy Book by E. Lockhart

Title: The Boy Book
Author: E. Lockhart
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: September 26, 2006
Pages: 193 Pages (paperback)
How I Got the Book: Christmas gift.

Join Ruby Oliver at the start of her junior year at Tate Prep as she confronts:
  • the secret about Noel
  • mysterious notes from Jackson
  • the interpretation of boy-speak
  • the horrors of the school trip
  • new entries in The Boy Book
There are Fruit Roll-Ups,
There is upper-regioning,
There are so many boys to choose from!
And there are penguins.

Cringe, laugh, and cry with Ruby Oliver in the fabulous companion to The Boyfriend List.

Review:

Now a junior at prestigious Tate Prep, Ruby is slightly less of a leper than she was the previous year. She has a good friend in Noel and Nora is her friend again too (but not Cricket or Kim). Her new school year starts off with a bang as Nora's hooters get a close-up, Noel and Ruby form the Hooter Rescue Squad to help her, Ruby gets an internship at the zoo, Jackson starts giving her notes while he steps out with a girl other than Kim (who is in Japan), and November Week approaches, bringing with it expensive trips. In between all this, Ruby is still spilling her guts to Doctor Z and the readers. Back with as frank a voice as ever and a new set of problems to deal with, Ruby continues her tale of misery in The Boy Book.

The problem with sequels is that sometimes, the characters start acting strangely for no reason and being untrue to the personalities they were given in the first book. The Boy Book has no such problem. Ruby is still a frank teenage girl who speaks well, screws up, and struggles with her feelings; other characters are still who they were when we were introduced to them. Some of them, such as Noel, get fantastic development over the course of the novel. Thee footnotes are still there and each chapter but the final one opens with a segment from the in-story Boy Book. Some scenes are still hilarious, others will tug at the heart strings a little, and still others will being a big smile to the reader's face.

This book focuses less on romance (though that focus isn't exactly getting neglected; it gets plenty of page time) and more on friendship than its predecessor The Boyfriend List. Ruby's main struggle is with right and wrong in friendship: whether or not it is right to tell someone that their boyfriend is cheating on them when it isn't your business in the first place and the rightness of going for a guy you have a mutual attraction to when your friend has already expressed that she likes him, among other things. After a massive screw-up like the Spring Fling Debacle in the previous novel, Ruby is trying to do the right thing and make the right choices so that she won't hurt her friends and ex-friends. She does manage it for most of the book, but as she says near the very end of the novel, "I made the right decision. But that doesn't mean I don't have any regrets."

At various points in this book, I wanted to yell at Ruby and Meghan and various other characters to stop lingering on feelings and just cut them out completely until I realized that they just couldn't do that. Ruby might not be Jackson's girlfriend anymore or Kim's best friend, but her connections to them meant so much to her that she can't get rid of them just like that. Same with the rest of the cast. Some people are fortunate enough to have the ability to turn off their feelings for someone when they want to, but Ruby is not one of those people. She has trouble getting over her connections to people she once cared about; she's realistic, experiences some character growth, and is just like any teenage girl I could find in my classes.

Unlike the previous novel, I think this one had a set antagonist: Jackson. He made Ruby feel awful when they were dating, he still does for most of this novel, he cheats on his girlfriend Kim (which causes Ruby pain in a way that would take too long to explain here), and he even lies about her relationship status to people. His confusing gestures to Ruby kept her from getting over him for most of the novel. By this point, I am firmly anti-Jackson because he is not a good person and should not be allowed anywhere near Ruby. That's just my opinion, of course. Everyone's got their own.

Readers who liked The Boyfriend List will enjoy The Boy Book just as much and maybe even a little more, depending on whether or not they appreciate the switch of the main focus to friendship. The next book in the series, The Treasure Map of Boys, will surely be just as good as the two books that came before it.

5 stars!


What am I reading next?: The Treasure Map of Boys by E. Lockhart. Review by Friday evening and that is the last you will see of her for about a week (or a half-week, depending on how fast the book travels to me).