My rating: 4.5/5
I liked this book. Like, a lot. People can laugh all they want at me for reading a book called The Boyfriend List (or really teen romance novels in general), but it will never change how good some of them are. I wish I’d read this when I was Ruby’s age, because the lessons she learns in it are, to quote the Publisher’s Weekly review on the cover, “painfully recognizable”, as well as being useful and even necessary for teen girls.
Ruby is real. She’s got real problems and real feelings, and she’s not afraid to discuss any of those problems. I love that this book deals with so many of the real issues that girls face growing up – real friendships vs. unhealthy ones, breakups and heartbreak, problems with parents and being heard, bullying, burgeoning sexuality – and deals with them in a positive way, with Ruby moving steadily away from poisonous relationships and towards acceptance of herself and her life.
If you’re familiar with John Green, you’re probably familiar with his quote, “It hurts because it mattered.” This book takes that idea and brings it to life, emphasizing the importance of every event in a Ruby’s life in shaping her personality. By going back through all of her past experiences with boys, she recognizes patterns and realizes, eventually what it is that gives her so many problems in her relationships, allowing her to start trying to correct the self-destructive habits she’s learned. I’m not sure exactly why, but this book really resonated with me. At times, the things that Ruby said seemed to exactly apply to things I have gone through myself, and I think that every girl who reads this book will see at least a little of herself in Ruby.
The ending, while not particularly conclusive, was charming and hopeful. Even though I know that there are three more books chronicling Ruby’s high school life, I don’t know if I will keep reading. In this instance, I might prefer to decide what happens next on my own.