Real Live Boyfriends

Posted January 11, 2012 by Tara in Challenges /// 6 Comments

I want that dress. And those bangs.

Real Live Boyfriends: Yes, Boyfriends, Plural. If My Life Wasn’t Complicated — I Wouldn’t Be Ruby Oliver
by E. Lockhart
Delacourt Press
Library book received from Junior Library Guild

[#5 in my 75 book challenge]

I can’t do the summary justice compared to the summary from Goodreads:

Ruby Oliver is in love. Or it would be love, if Noel, her real live boyfriend, would call her back. But Noel seems to have turned into a pod-robot lobotomy patient, and Ruby can’t figure out why.

Not only is her romantic life a shambles:
Her dad is eating nothing but Cheetos,
Her mother’s got a piglet head in the refrigerator,
Hutch has gone to Paris to play baguette air guitar,
Gideon shows up shirtless,
And the pygmy goat Robespierre is no help whatsoever.

Will Ruby ever control her panic attacks?
Will she ever understand boys?
Will she ever stop making lists?
(No to that last one.)”

I think that gives you a good look at E. Lockhart’s writing style. Real Live Boyfriends was a great finale to Ruby Oliver’s journey from a neurotic high school sophomore to a more balance high school senior, on the verge of the rest of her life. I wanted to kick Ruby throughout much of this book, because she seemed like she had learned nothing from her therapy or her previous experiences. She was very mean to her mom! However, in her defense, I wanted to kick her mother, too. I just felt sorry for her father. Ruby’s life isn’t perfect, but you can rest assured that Ruby redeems herself by the end of the story and I liked the ending very much.

Ruby Oliver is so likable because we’ve all been where she is. Anyone who thought she was too neurotic or annoying must have really had their shit together in high school. Unlike me. Even now I struggle with those lingering emotions (being in the dating world sucks whether you’re 17 or 27…or 37..or 67!). What I like most is that Ruby Oliver knows she’s neurotic. She knows she’s over-reacting. She knows she has a serious mental health issue (panic attacks). But she has learned something from her experiences and her therapist. She’s human. Sometimes our emotions get the best of us, even when we know better. We reflect, we deal with it, and we move on. THAT’S why Ruby is such a great role model to teenage girls.

Equal parts hilariously, intelligently funny and incredibly insightful, this Ruby Oliver book is a must-read. The whole series is a must-read. Everything by E. Lockhart is a must-read. My favorite quotes:

“You can’t have an ending. It’s impossible. Because unlike in the movies, life goes on. You’re never at the end until you die.” 

“Love is when you have a really amazing piece of cake, and it’s the very last piece, but you let him have it.” 

“A lot of people see friends as something you have on Twitter or Facebook or wherever. If someone wants to read your updates and you want to read their updates, then you’re friends. You don’t ever have to see each other. But that seems like a stupid definition to me… Although on the other hand, rethink. Maybe a friend is someone who wants your updates. Even if they’re boring. Or sad. Or annoyingly cutesy. A friend says “Sign me up for your crap, yes indeed”-because he likes you anyway. He’ll tolerate your junk… I want your updates. I do. I want all of your updates, Ruby.”

Final Grade:   A   Would you expect anything less from me with my beloved Ruby Oliver? I’m grading it not as a stand-alone, but as the final book in a wonderful series. A wonderful book!

*The GLBT tag comes because Noel’s brother is gay and living with his boyfriend in New York when Noel goes to visit him for the summer. It actually becomes a major part of the story at the end, and I thought it was well done.


Tara is a PhD student studying education. Her dissertation will be on digital book communities as public pedagogy (ask her about it!), though she often takes a break from all of that to read books about oppressive governments and sassy teenagers. In a former life, she was a middle school teacher and middle school librarian. In her future life, she's a professor of YA lit. In her free time, she drinks a lot of coffee while planning her next grand adventure (there's always something).

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6 responses to “Real Live Boyfriends

  1. Miss Anderson, I have not read any Ruby Oliver books, but your review definitely has me fascinated. I agree: we were all there at one time (only ONE time, if we were luck!) “Coming of age” is an experience I definitely do NOT want to repeat! Ruby Oliver deserves our love!

    • Miss Anderson

      I do love my Ruby Oliver! And granbee, I’m taking your advice and adding more quotes to my reviews to give a sense of the writing style. E. Lockhart has a Ph.D in English Literature, and I love her style.

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