Plot: Ruby Oliver has had a rough 10 days: she has lost her boyfriend, lost all her friends, become known as a slut and started having panic attacks. Her shrink, Doctor Z, thinks that the best way to get to the bottom of her troubles is to make a list of all the boys in her life, past and present. But this boyfriend list gets her into quite a bit more trouble but by the end of the tale she will have learned a great deal about boys, friendship and herself.
I loved Lockhart’s Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks so though a book with this type of title and premise doesn’t usually catch my attention, I pounced on The Boyfriend List. I’m so very glad that I did: rarely have I had so much fun with a book.
Ruby is not the schemer that Frankie is but she is witty with quirky view of the world. And though she has faults and makes some hurtful mistakes, she is ultimately very likable. She also presents quite a large cast of characters but they are all distinct and fully flesh-out in my mind. Interestingly, as Ruby’s therapy proceeds she gains a deeper and more complex understanding of these people around her. At times these revelations, especially about those people Ruby loved best, are not flattering but they are fascinating to read about. I found it quite refreshing that Ruby’s journey was not one from heartbreak to true love but rather to a greater honesty with herself and others about her feelings. But I’ll let you discover the details of that yourself. 🙂
Novels about bad breakups and former friends fighting over a boy are not uncommon but Lockhart’s way of telling her tale is fresh and fun. And told with a surprising amount of skill. Because the list structure of the novel, the timeline isn’t linear: we have the present from which Ruby tells the tale, the far past where many of her adventures with boys take place, the near past where the bad thing happened and the events continuing to unfold. This could have been a confusing mess but Lockhart keeps it straight with deceptive ease. But that isn’t all! I’m mad for well used footnotes and Lockhart totally rocks them. Her footnotes contain interesting anecdotes, character descriptions and hilarious commentary. And the overall flow of the novel is so good that I found myself staying up much later than was wise to read just one more chapter.
This is a great book, whether you are a fan of romances or not. It is funny, clever and skillfully constructed. The moment I finished it, I wanted to run out to get the three other Ruby Oliver books… unfortunately I was on a plane at the time.