The Boyfriend List (15 guys, 11 shrink appointments, 4 ceramic frogs and me, ruby oliver) by E. Lockhart (Delacorte, 2005)(Listening Library, 2005). Everybody’s dumped Ruby–her boyfriend, her best friend, and all of the rest of her friends. She’s a leper at Tate Prep and the subject of unflattering scribbles on the bathroom wall. After a few panic attacks, Ruby’s parents whisk her to Dr. Z. Their visits prompt Ruby to compile a boyfriend list, the first draft of which falls into the wrong hands. Ages 12-up. Highly recommended.
Cyn’s Boyfriend List (because did you really think I could resist?)
C, who liked Joelle better;
S, who I thought when he sang “Sandy” said “Cindy” instead;
D, who kissed me on the cheek;
S2, whose mother hated me (not the last mother to do so);
J, who first French-kissed me, and I thought it was gross;
D, who was older (and from Missouri), which freaked out my parents more than it should’ve;
T, who thought that dating was like “Ground Hog Day;” you did the same thing each time;
K, a total rebound;
C2, whom I had perhaps too much in common with;
T2, who was allegedly jealous of B, even though nothing ever happened;
R, who was probably too religious;
J2, but those long-distance things are always doomed;
C2, again, because we were like that;
H, whom I was on a date with when I met my husband;
G, who I married.
Note: I have never really learned when to use “who”/”whom,” which is one of the many reasons why I value copyeditors.
The Boyfriend List is sometimes funny, sometimes thoughtful, always right on mark. At first when I plunged in, I found the footnotes a distraction from the flow, but after a few more pages, I was making footnotes of my own on purple Post-Its.* My total # of purple notes: 18 (one of which is hot pink for no apparent reason; it would make more sense if it signified something “hotter” or “more girly” but it doesn’t). This is what most of them said (for a few I can’t read my handwriting):
(1) I consider myself something of a “romance” authority (see “A Reader, A Romantic” by Cynthia Leitich Smith from Making The Match: The Right Book for the Right Reader at the Right Time by Teri Lesesne (Stenhouse, 2003)(no, I don’t mean genre romance, though one of my best friends from law school writes them).
(2) I wish I’d read The Boyfriend List when I was a teen girl in the same way I wish a couple of my boyfriends (see above) had read Out of Order by A.M. Jenkins (HarperTempest, 2003).
(3) Re FN 3, pg. 45, it was somewhat mortifying to see “Back in Black” by AC/DC (1980) as a historical reference, though of course it is. I used to march into the gym to it in eighth grade back when I was on the junior high (now middle school in Kansas) drill team. Our colors were blue and black, which when you think of it more says “bruised” than “champions,” but there you have it.
(4) Re FN 6, pg. 64 and FN 7, pg. 65, excellent thematic references to great films of our time;
(5) Re “Tommy Hazard;” mine is tall, brilliant, funny, does housework, and doesn’t mind that I’m my neurotic self. He also thinks I’m devastatingly sexy.
(6) I love that the setting is not an all-white world, but it’s also not a forced 1980s kind of multicultural story. It’s a story with white, Japanese American, Indian American, Latino, etc. characters where ethnicity isn’t the whole focus. But, at the same time, those characters from historically underrepresented groups aren’t white-washed either. They just are who they are are, and occasionally that plays a role in their perspective, but more often, it doesn’t. The Boyfriend List is one of the best examples of the direction I’d like to see us going with race and ethnicity in books for kids and teens.
(7) Related to immediately above, I always had an equal opportunity/affirmative action policy when it came to really cute boys.
(8) The therapy aspect of the story was fascinating to me, being from a lower-middle class mid-to-southwestern family where the closest thing one has to it is talking to an auntie over a plate of comfort food.
(9) Re pg. 156, it’s generally but not always a bad idea to go out with an ex, something I did with: T, C2, and J2 (see above).
(10) Re FN 1, pg. 198 and FN 2, pg. 199, more excellent thematic references to great films of our time.
(11) Re FN 3, pg. 212, I thought the reference movie, “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask” had to be made up, but I googled it, and found out I was wrong. It is apparently a Woody Allen movie. I have tried to watch Woody Allen movies, and I simply want to shake the man and say “deal with it,” but I’m thinking these films have greater appeal to Manhattanities and people who don’t first think “Willie Nelson” when someone mentions music. See #8 above.
(12) I can’t remember the last time I was so personally engaged with a novel. I’m thrilled that it’s on the radar for the BBYA and Quick Picks lists. Thanks to E. Lockhart for a wonderful read!
*because I cannot figure out a way to indicated footnotes on blogger, I will have to use boring parenthesis.
E. Lockhart’s Blog: for the latest news.
Best Books For Young Adults — 2006 Nominations; updated April 2005. BBYA nominees I’ve read and recommend (so far): Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson (Viking); Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci (Candlewick); Stained by Jennifer Richard Jacobsen (Atheneum); A Room on Lorelei Street by Mary E. Pearson (Henry Holt); BBYA nominee that Greg has read and recommends: Pinned by Alfred C. Martino (Harcourt).
Quick Picks — 2006 Nominations; updated April 2005. QP nominees I’ve read and recommend (so far): Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson (Viking); Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci (Candlewick); Fade To Black by Alex Flinn (Harper)(see my site search engine for interviews with Alex Flinn); Got Fangs? by Katie Maxwell (Dorchester Smooch); A Room on Lorelei Street by Mary E. Pearson (Henry Holt).
More recent don’t-miss novels: Dancing In Red Shoes Will Kill You by Dorian Cirrone (HarperCollins, 2005)(ages 12-up); Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles (Harcourt, 2005 (ages 8-up); Last Dance On Holladay Street by Elisa Carbone (Knopf, 2005)(ages 10-up); Shakespeare’s Secret by Elise Broach (Henry Holt, 2005)(ages 10-up); Maya Running by Anjali Banerjee (Wendy Lamb, 2005)(ages 10-up).
See also this groundbreaking Native American YA anthology: Moccasin Thunder: American Indian Stories for Today, edited by Lori M. Carlson (HarperCollins, 2005) and from the backlist, Comfort by Carolee Dean (Houghton Mifflin, 2002)(ages 12-up); See You Down The Road by Kim Ablon Whitney (Knopf, 2004)(ages 12-up); Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Cinco Puntos Press, 2004)(ages 12-up).
Cynsational News and Links
Help the Austin Public Library Foundation and recycle at the same time. WhitePages.com will donate $1 to the Austin Public Library for each white page phonebook recycled in April, up to $10,000. Just drop off your old or unused phonebooks in the recycling bins located in all Austin Public Library branches.
Blogging TLA from Greg Leitich Smith.