Friday, February 4, 2011

Real Live Boyfriends

By E. Lockhart

Three Things I liked about Real Live Boyfriends:
1. Clever footnotes.
2. Ruby using Tums as pebbles at her boyfriend’s window.
3. Adorable and witty rapport with said boyfriend, including dates planned by the ‘Mutual Admiration Society.’

I have a running list in my head of fictional characters I’d like to befriend* and Ruby Oliver definitely makes the cut.  A vegetarian film buff and perpetual list-maker who lives on a houseboat in Seattle, has a personal dress code of fishnets and vintage dresses, overanalyzes everything, and hums heavy metal to ward off anxiety attacks that flare up when she’s stressed, Ruby is a little too quirky to quite fit in at Tate Prep, the private school she attends on scholarship. To earn spending money, she works in a zoo mucking animal stalls (while discussing life, love, and the pursuit of happiness with her favorite pygmy goat, Robespierre) and in a shoe store where she sells Birkenstocks to hippies with horrid feet. Oh, and she’s on an ongoing mission to consume the ultimate deliciousness in cake form. Don’t you like her already?

This is the fourth installment in Lockhart’s Ruby Oliver quartet. It’s the summer before senior year, and Ruby’s relationship with her new Real Live Boyfriend Noel is perfection… until it’s not. Noel comes back from a trip to visit his brother in New York subdued and uncommunicative, refusing to admit anything’s wrong. The strain causes them to fall out and Ruby must continue her senior year (including making a documentary for her film school applications, dealing with her erratic and eccentric parents, attending her shrink appointments, and repairing an old friendship) alone. Will Ruby survive senior year while sorting out the chaos that is her life? Will she learn to control her panic attacks? Will she work things out with Noel? And most importantly, will she achieve success in her pursuit of deliciousness? Your guess is as good as mine**.

In my opinion, there’s a fine line between amusingly quirky and outright ridiculous, and this Ruby Oliver installment aired on the side of ridiculousness. Exhibit A: Her mother (whose behavior is more childish than her daughter’s, Exhibit B) hatches a plan to start Seattle’s (and the world’s, no doubt) first meatloafery, a Coldstone-esque, make-your-own approach to meatloaf. Fortunately, her family puts the kibosh on her plans before it ever leaves the kitchen. Exhibit C: Her father, morose over the recent loss of his mother, forgets to come home one night due to being cheered up by playing Guitar Hero Metallica with a buddy until 4 a.m. The list goes on. Some of the ridiculousness is amusing, and some of it is simply scoff-worthy (meatloafery, ‘nuff said).

Verdict? As my mother often says, “It is what it is.” Real Live Boyfriends is a quick*** and entertaining read, but don’t expect more than that.

Side Note: Is it just me, or are covers with Real Live People on them irritating?

** Oh, play along. It’s more fun if you pretend like you don’t know what’s coming.
*** I read it in a grand total of about 3 ½ hours.

Same Story, Different Review:
The Crooked Bookshelf

Books Read This Year: 11
Top 100 Progress: 39/100


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