Cover of Real Live Boyfriends, with a cute white brunette girl with bangs, perching her chin on her hands and slightly smiling

About the Book

Title: Real Live Boyfriends (Ruby Oliver #4)
Published: 2010
Series: Ruby Oliver
Swoonworthy Scale: 4

Talky Talk: Dear Diary
Bonus Factors: Docuventary, Hutch
Anti-Bonus Factor: Cray Cray Mom
Relationship Status: Unforgettable

The Deal:

Oh Ruby Oliver, you little minx! One of my all-time fave YA heroines is back in this fourth (and final?) book, wherein she finally gets a clue about boys. SYKE! As if you guys! Although Ruby is now a senior in high school, her life remains hopelessly complicated. Sure, she’s still got her job at the zoo and her weekly therapy sessions with Dr. Z, but what about the stuff that really matters, aka her love life?! In one corner, we’ve got sexy hipster Noel, her junior year crush who’s finally decided to like her (ok, no… wait YES!… alright maybe?), and on the other side of the ring, we’ve got Gideon, the super hottie older brother of Ruby’s friend Nora. Which boy will Ruby choose? And, more importantly, will she live long enough to enjoy her decision, given that her mom is totally mental, her close friend Hutch is in Paris, and her other friend, Robespierre, is a goat who can’t speak English?! In the immortal words of the Kaiser Chiefs: RUBY RUBY RUBY RUBEEEEH!


BFF Charm Heck Yes - sparklier and shinier than the original BFF Charm

I already gave Ruby my charm when I reviewed her first three books, but allow me to be obsequious (SAT WORD!). The girl is abso looney tunes, but in the most charming way possible. She’s neurotic, she’s impulsive, and she overanalyzes everything to the point where I would NEVER take her to the DVD rental store cos we’d be there for an hour before we finally decided to just rent 10 Things I Hate About You for the twentieth time. In other words, she’s absolutely wonderful, and it’s a real pleasure to see her stretching towards her potential.

Plus, I’m hoping that the exchange of charms means we can swap clothes, cos I am DYING to borrow some of her vintage dresses and fishnets.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

There are definitely some tingly moments in this book, but I missed the usual Ruby awkwardness. There’s a few classic “DON’T DO THAT. OH SHIZZ. YOU JUST DID” moments, but overall, the chemistry with the boys kinda fell flat for me. Part of this is due to the boys themselves–Noel is basically a prick, and the hotness of Gideon was ruined the moment Ruby mentioned that he smelled of patchouli. QUOI. NO. And then there’s the ending of the book, which I OBVS won’t spoil (y’all know I won’t do you like that!) but yeah, it disappointed me. I did, however, love Lockhart’s examination of the eternal debate that lies at the very heart of romance: Bad Boy vs. Nice Guy. In true Ruby Oliver fashion, the analysis begins with a list of movies featuring both types, and then it evolves into into Double True time:

The movies make the brooding guy the hero–the guy with the unresolved problems, the guy who carries a gun, the guy with unresolved anger, the guy with a chip on his shoulder, the guy who’s a vampire–and they tell you that you can have the mythical happy ending with that same brooding guy.

But in reality, the brooding guy is cranky. He doesn’t reply to emails. He doesn’t call. He’s only half there when you’re talking to him, and he doesn’t chase you when you run. You feel insecure all of the time. You get needy and sad and you hate yourself for being needy.

Oh Ruby, I FEEL YOU. Also, you should give Bella Swan a call.

Talky Talk: Dear Diary

The charming tone of the previous books remains strong, but the cute slang and awesome lists are tempered by Ruby’s increasing maturity. Since she’s become a character that feels like a real friend, it’s wonderful to see the growth in her thought processes, even as she continues to have more hands than any person I know (i.e. “on the other hand… but, on the OTHER hand”). Seriously, the girl has an unnatural amount of neuron paths in her brain, and the honest, open style of the book allowed me to ride down every single one. BEST ROLLER COASTER EVS.

Bonus Factor: Docuventary

The Felicity fans out there will appreciate Ruby’s on-camera interviews with her friends and family about the nature of love and friendship. Their responses are thoughtful and endearing, but MAN I miss Javier.

Bonus Factor: Hutch

HUTCH YOU ARE MY FAVORITE. Screw Ruby, I seriously wish this book had just been about you in Paris, forming your adorbs French heavy metal cover band and being all anti-social and awesome. I thought I couldn’t love you any harder, and then you went and wrote this in an email:

The pastry of France kicks the ass of the pastry of America. It kicks it so hard the pastry of America hobbles to the curb whimpering, then scuttles down the street never to be seen again. That is how good the pastry is here.

One day, Hutch, you’ll get a prescription to Accutane, and your acne will disappear, and girls will finally realize that you’re the coolest kid in school. But by then it will be too late, because YOU WILL ALREADY BE MINE. And we will eat French pastry together and karaoke to Guns N’ Roses and live happily ever after.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Cray Cray Mom

The 'No more wire hangers!' scene from 'Mommy Dearest'

Ruby’s Mother, Elaine Oliver, PERFORMANCE ARTIST, has always been endearingly wacky and eccentric. But in this book, she pulled a Goldie Hawn and totally went overboard. Yes, plenty of parents are crazy, but Elaine’s terrible and, at times, downright venomous behavior rang false to me, and it detracted from the authentic tone of Ruby’s inner monologue. With that said, any woman who bakes a turducken for her vegetarian daughter is basically a winner in my book.

Relationship Status: Unforgettable

I will love Ruby Oliver for the rest of my days. It’s been an honor to watch her struggle with and finally overcome numerous obstacles, like panic attacks, crazy parents and, of course, the indecipherable male species. Now that Ruby’s heading to college, it’s time for us to say good-bye, and although I will miss her, this book helped me to realize that she’s going to be just fine without me. I feel a bit disappointed about how we parted ways, but in the end, I wish her the best and hope that our paths will cross again some day. By then, I bet she’ll have some pretty amazing zoo animal fun facts to share, and, if I’m really lucky, some ninja brownies!

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher. I received neither cocktails nor compensation in exchange for this review.


Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.