Friday, February 10, 2012

Real Live Boyfriends

Real Live Boyfriends is a YA contemporary novel by E. Lockhart, and the fourth novel in the Ruby Oliver quartet.

Here we are on the last day of “Ruby Oliver Week” and if you aren’t already reading these books – well, why not?

But I’m more than sure most of you are – and hopefully you’re all caught up, and therefore not at risk of being spoiled by my review of Real Live Boyfriends. You’ve been warned!

Ruby Oliver is beginning her senior year of high school with a real live boyfriend: Noel.

At least she thought she was.

After having spent the rest of junior year and the beginning of summer being fully in love (okay, they never actually said the word, but the vibes were strongly in that direction), Ruby is now confused.

Again.

When Noel went to visit his brother in New York for a while, almost every day they talked on the phone and exchanged funny emails. She never once felt insecure.

Until all of a sudden – communication stopped. Ruby would call and he wouldn’t answer. She’d leave a voice mail, and he wouldn’t call back. Her emails weren’t replied to.

And she had no idea what had happened.

This is Noel – the one guy who never believed the rumors about her, who always stood by her, the one that refused to be flaky or undependable while her life crumbled around her – Noel, her new real live boyfriend.

What was going on?

And when he comes home from the summer – it’s like he’s become a pod-robot lobotomy patient. Looks like her romantic life is falling apart yet again.

Meanwhile her family life is getting even more messed up – her mom is even more shrill than usual and Ruby has a huge fight with her that evolves to a situation in which her dad isn’t doing much of anything but falling asleep with a Cheetos bag in his hand.

Not to mention college applications, even less friends than usual (Hutch is off in Paris and Nora’s still not talking to her – and Noel? Well, Noel is being a pod-robot, remember?), and a suddenly interested Gideon (Nora’s older brother whom she used to have a huge crush) is showing up shirtless wanting to take her out – all the while Ruby’s in her highly vulnerable state of: What’s up with Noel???

All of this and more in Real Live Boyfriends.

It’s an ominous start when Ruby pretty much lets the reader know, from the get-go, that something is going to go wrong with her relationship with Noel. It becomes almost like a countdown, a riveting breakdown of what happened to cause the sudden bad-boyfriend-tendencies in Noel. We know they’re perfect for each other!

Or at least, that’s how I felt.

I don’t want to give away too much more, because this is the last book (as far as I can tell) and there are just too many twists that I don’t want to ruin. But I’ll say this: Real Live Boyfriends was truly a wonderful finale for Ruby Oliver.

The humor is strong, but the agonizing pain of confusion and ultimate reveal (no details) is even more mature and grounded than the previous three books. The situations in Real Live Boyfriends create a true coming-of-age state that brings the deeper, heartbreaking, inescapable parts of life to the table – the crises outside the walls of Tate Prep and all the high school crazy stuff.

I was very, very, very happy and contented with Real Live Boyfriends – and though I will miss Ruby Oliver and all of the phenomenal secondary characters in the books, I feel like her story is complete. I was affected, stirred, roused, and delighted over Real Live Boyfriends.

Thank you E. Lockhart for an entertaining, charming, hilarious, emotionally resonant experience in the Ruby Oliver novels!

Now, what are you waiting for? If you haven’t read the series yet – now is the time!!!

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