5 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver
From E. Lockhart, author of the best-seller We Were Liars, and the highly-acclaimed The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, comes this hilarious and heart-warming series.
Ruby Oliver is fifteen and has a shrink. But before you make up your mind about her, you should know that she has had a pretty awful (and eventful) past ten days. She has:
* lost her boyfriend
* lost her best friend (Kim)
* lost all her other friends (Nora, Cricket)
* did something suspicious with a boy
* did something advanced with a boy
* had an argument with a boy
* drank her first beer (someone handed it to her)
* got caught by her mom (ag!)
* had a panic attack (scary)
* lost a lacrosse game (she's the goalie)
* failed a math test (she'll make it up)
* hurt Meghan's feelings (even though they aren't really friends)
* became a social outcast (no one to sit with at lunch)
* and had graffiti written about her in the girls' bathroom (who knows what was in the boys'!?!).
But don't worry, Ruby lives to tell the tale. Through a special assignment to list all the boys she's ever had the slightest, little, any-kind-of-anything with, comes an unfortunate series of events that would be enough to send any girl in a panic.
The book I want to talk about in this second post is “The Boyfriend list* *15 guys, 11shrink appointments, 4 ceramic frogs – and me, Ruby Oliver”. A book a bit old, it was first released in 2005 but it deserves to be read at least once, especially by teenagers.
The book tells the story of Ruby, a fifteen years old, that end up at the therapist (or a shrink as she calls her) because of her panic attacks. During the appointment with the therapist, we discover why she is so anxious and, in the end of the book, we discover that, if we would be in her shoes, we would probably end up at the same therapist.
This is a book that sincerely narrates how you can feel unfitting and not able to cope with life when you are a teenager. The relationship with your parents is not as friendly as movies describe it, you are often alone trying to have an adult perspective of what is happening to you. When you are fifteen every problem seems huge and insuperable and often you don't realize that you already have the capacity to deal with those problems.
Ruby finds herself, out of the blue, without friends, boyfriend and being the outcast of the school. Reading this book from an adult perspective, I would want to shout out to Ruby that she is not the wrong one, that her friends are jerks. I would suggest her to have a change of scenery, find a different company, but then I realized that I would have done the same thing if I were in her shoes. Teenagers tend to live like a pack, the strongest achieves to surround himself of the faithful and the weak ones (the ones that clearly can't survive without a pack), the ones considered a threat are left behind, rejected. Exactly like in a pack, it's difficult to find another one accepting you, so you slowly become an outcast, trying to survive alone until you grow up realizing how stupid you were worrying about people that surrounded you in high school. Anyway, when you are fifteen, the only thing that you want is to be accepted.
“The boyfriend list” is a book to read at least one time during your life. If I had a book like that when I was fifteen, I would certainly felt relieved to know that I was not the only one to feel like Ruby. I gave it 4 on 5 on Goodreads because sometimes I found irritating to read the footnotes that the author often use, but it's only a matter of personal taste, I prefer a more linear reading.
One night changed her life…
Bestselling author Amelia Greyson has grown up in the music industry and isn’t the slightest bit fazed by fame or celebrities. However, when she attends a Bastards and Dangerous concert with her best friend Belle, her world shifts on its axis.
Sawyer and Noah Weston are the front men of BAD. They’re fraternal twins and sexy as sin. When they hear the author of The O Factor is in their green room, they’re intrigued. She’s just the person they need to write their farewell story. The brothers offer Amelia the opportunity of a lifetime, which she reluctantly accepts.
Noah is sweet and considerate, working hard to make Amelia feel at home on the road. Unfortunately, the closer they get, the more obnoxious Sawyer becomes. Sawyer is arrogant and distant and he wants Amelia, even though she’s not his for the taking. Only during stolen moments does Sawyer show her who he really is.
Can Amelia maintain a safe distance from Sawyer and keep her heart intact? Or will she shatter Noah’s heart by giving hers to his brother instead?
Just an Illusion – Side A is the first book in The Illusion Series.
Reading order of The Illusion Series:
Just an Illusion - Side A
Just an Illusion - The B Side
Just an Illusion - EP
Just an Illusion - Unplugged
In the last few months I read a lot of books with main character playing the part of rockstars, singers, actors and so on. I have to confess that, in the beginning, I was a little scared because I thought that this book was very similar to others I already read, but the synopsis intrigued me and I decided to give it a chance: I was right.
One thing that I love about this book is the alternation of the chapter and blog posts; I find it a good trick to make the reader feel part of a fandom but with a privileged view on their idol's life. I love how every post of the blog, except the last one, ends with the sentence “Don't forget, live today like there's no tomorrow!” a mantra that make you feel even more part of the fandom, something to identify with.
Another thing that I appreciate is the humility that distinguished every character. Despite of the fact that they have to live like a rockstar, no one is arrogant or excessively eccentric; in the end every character is looking for a tranquil life surrounded by the people they love. From this point of view the characters are well balanced and every behavior is believable. The standard bearer of their way to live is Wyatt's wife that becomes a fangirl in front of the author she loves; her excitement during the phone call her husband arranges with Mel, is something that makes us feel less alone and misunderstood.
Something I really liked of this book is the cause of Mel's mistrust: it's not due to the usual guy that broke her heart. No exes that made her an icy queen, just a devastated family that made her lose her fait in love. Finally something new compared to others books that I lately read which all offered the same story: cheating ex – broken girl – prince charming that saves her.
The life into the tourbus is an important part of the book and I really enjoyed it. It's everything a fan can dream to do when the band she loves begins a tour. I admit that I thought about following Counterfeit's European tour, renting a van and driving to the venues around Europe with a couple of friends. Obviously I can't do it but reading this book made me dream about doing it.
Other two things that, in the end, I liked about this book. The first one is that Mel tells her past but occasionally she goes back to the present to let us know that noting is like it seems. The author insinuates some doubt you can't ignore and you have to read to know what happens. The second thing is that I loved the end of the book, she decided to end it bravely and I appreciate that. It's obviously an open ending but you could understand it from the title: Just an illusion – SIDE A, it's obvious there will be a SIDE B. I love when the author has the courage to dare and she makes you sweat for a happy ending.
So, here we go with the things I didn't like and made me give three stars on five, some flaws that made me grimace but that basically concern only my taste on books.
First thing, the opening gig, when the guys jump on the stage and start the concert announcing what will happen after the show, in the backstage; I found it unrealistic: a rock band jump on the stage and start to play. They will take the energy of the public and put it into a massive opening, they will never jump on stage and chat with the public announcing something. I can understand that we need to know what will happen after the show but I would use another expedient to do it, I didn't like how this passage was managed.
Another thing I had difficult to handle is Noah's character. I admit that he doesn't represent my taste in matter of man: I don't like people too mushy and, in this case, the character is borderline with a psychosis. He seemed too perfect, sympathetic, attentive in an almost maniacal way. He is the classic person that, sweet talking you, makes you do what he wants or he makes you feel guilty. The guy also dropped the line “Do you want to be my girlfriend?” Something no one in their late twenties says, never. It's a cliché that I often find in books and that is unrealistic: no one in a normal conversation asks something like that, unless he has a maturity of an eight years old.
I had the impression that Mel often chooses what doesn't hurt Noah, not what she actually wants to do because she loves him. The first time they make love, it's a big sequence of romantic gestures that, in the end, cut off the passion of the moment, leaving me with a doubt: did they have sex just because they waited too much or did they do it because there is passion between them? I have, however, to admit that, maybe, all this relationship could be an introduction for the second book; this is why I decided to put aside my irritation caused by Noah and wait for the second book before to label him with an absolute NO.
I mentioned before how much I loved the tour bus part. Well, my opinion doesn't change but I would have liked to see more outside the magic bubble that is the tour bus. The characters' life outside the bus, basically, doesn't exist and I felt something missing, while I was reading I needed to know more about the real life outside that bubble; I had the feeling to be cut off from the rest of the world.
Into the same tour bus Mel rattles off the story about her teens and her family; it's told in a single time, getting everything out in the open. I would have preferred to discover those things step by step, maybe by letting them slip in between some contrast with the band members; it seemed too easy telling them like that.
The last thing I would like to say, is that from the second half of the book, the secondary characters almost disappeared. Describing a life into a tour bus, I expected more interaction with all the person that live with Mel and Noah, but they sporadically appear while the focus is only on the main characters.
Do I suggest this book? Yes, if you are looking for a romantic love story, this is certainly a book to keep in mind. There are rockstars, dramas and a good dose of romanticism. You have to be aware that is not a stand alone novel, with a really open ending and a cliffhanger that makes you shiver, so, you have to wait for the sequel to know what will happen. If this is not a problem for you, this is a book to have on your book shelf.