Real Live Awesomeness

A review of Real Live Boyfriends by E. Lockhart

by Victoria Testa

Do you like pandas? Do you like goats? Do you like slightly crazy but mostly caring teenage heroines who refuse to be the damsels in distress?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then Real Live Boyfriends is the book for you. Actually, if you have ever been embarrassed, happy, sad, worried, or scared, this book is for you. If you haven’t experienced any of these emotions, I will assume you are a “mindless lobotomize robot” who is much too busy taking over the world to participate in tasks such as reading.

Ruby Oliver is a girl of many contrasting qualities. Kind and judgmental. Carefree and neurotic. Crazy and calm. No matter how many times these qualities threaten to ruin her life, she can’t let them go. Truly, it’s a good thing she doesn’t because it is Ruby’s wild personality that makes her such a real and intriguing character.

After a high school career of gossip, embarrassment, and angst, Ruby is thrilled to (finally) have a real live boyfriend, Noel. By definition, he calls when you need him, he kisses when you want him to, and he goes out of his way to show you
he cares. Until, out of the blue, the calls go to voicemail, the kissing isn’t swoon worthy, and Ruby questions if he cares at all.

Ruby is left wondering, What changed? Why is everything different? How can I make our relationship what it used to be? However, the arrival of some shirtless college students, a lack of friends, college applications, less than therapeutic therapy sessions, and her mom’s foray into serving her some disgusting meat dishes prove to be more distracting than you’d think. How is Ruby supposed to fix her broken heart if she has to fix a broken life first?

There is something about Ruby Oliver. Essentially, she is the perfect character. Not because she is smart, sweet and funny. What makes her perfect are her flaws. Her insecurity about love, dealing with high school drama, and lack of self-confidence make her a very real, enjoyable, and not to mention hysterical character.

Another interesting component is the involvement of parents within the story. Young adult novels tend to cling to the falsehood that teenagers relate more to stories without adults. However adults are part of our life, and a good story can’t be realistic without them. Truly, Ruby’s parents affect her in more ways than she knows.

Among numerous issues facing teenagers today, a lack of confidence might be the worst for their future. Teenagers hide behind social networking to avoid coming face to face. Media depicts photo shopped models as the face of beauty. Teenagers are taunted and ridiculed by an unjust world. Ruby struggles with self-loathing and a lack of confidence. Yet, it is the way she overcomes that struggle that gives teenagers hope.

The romantic moments are really sweet. We are all on a quest to find someone real and alive. We crave the people who exist in movies to torment in reality. We want the person of our dreams to stop disappearing when the alarm goes off. We want a fairytale. That’s the big problem with fairytales. Only some of us will find a happily ever after.

At its heart, Real Live Boyfriends is about being true to yourself. It’s about surviving the crazy, messed up world we call high school. It’s about forgetting what people write about you on the bathroom wall. It’s about being who you are and loving every comical, heart-wrenching, and beautiful second of it.

Victoria Testa lives in New York City but is a beach bum at heart. When not writing or reading, she can be found surfing, swimming, and singing!

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