Monday, November 13, 2006

Review: The Boy Book

E. Lockhart's The Boy Book: A Study of Habits and Behaviors, Plus Techniques for Taming Them) is fun, fun, fun.

Ruby Oliver starts her junior year in disgrace. Once one of a foursome of girls, kissing the boyfriend of the alpha member of the group cost her her friends. It doesn't matter that the boyfriend was formerly Ruby's own boyfriend--the girls had a code and wrote it down in their "Boy Book," a collection of lists and instructions on how to deal with the male species.

Ruby's also seeing a shrink, after experiencing a series of panic attacks following her very public fall from grace. Ruby's delightfully hippie parents suspect she may be a lesbian. And, Ruby is still pining after the boy (Jackson) who caused the angst in the first place.

Lockhart has really captured the voice of your intelligent, insecure sixteen year old. Ruby is fabulous narrator, fond of lists and a footnote or two. She talks too much, is a bit of a busybody, and doesn't, frankly, understand her own motivations. At least at the beginning of the book. By the end, however, and with the help of Dr. Z, new friends, old friends, and, yes, even her parents, Ruby has grown up enough to give the "Boy Book" away:

Nancy Drews
That is, things I am good at*
1. The backstroke. Not great, but decent and getting better.
2. Talking. I'm like my mom that way.
3. Making lists. I really could medal in this one.
4. Movies. Remembering trivia and being able to say semi-intelligent stuff about cinema when called upon to do so.
5. Getting animals to like me. And not being afraid of them.
* A homework assignment from Doctor Z, which she shrinkily calls a list of affirmations, but which I prefer to term Nancy Drews, because Nancy Drew, girl detective, was good at everything, even horseback riding and water ballet, though there was no evidence she had ever practiced or even heard of either one until she miraculously turned out to be expert at them.

Hah! That's just what I thought of Nancy Drew.

Ruby Oliver finds some of herself over the course of The Boy Book and more. She learns how to be a better friend, that there's always two sides to the story, and that being yourself isn't such a bad thing.

The Boy Book is highly recommended for teens ages 14 and up. It's funny, sweet, and so very true.