Ruby Oliver, she of red lipstick, glasses, fishnets, vintage clothes, mystery novels, and old movies, is at the point where she needs to reevaluate her life, her goals, and her relationships, perhaps grow a backbone, and, well, draw a treasure map. And so she does, in her trademark anxiety-and-quirk-filled way, which is just "Spankin' with a side of ennui." Among the other lessons of adolescence Mocha Latte (per Ruby's request, to avoid the immediate association with all the unpleasant things like pimples), Ruby has learned the value of friendship, having created a new friends circle of Meghan, Nora, and Noel. She has learned that friendships are not only for happy times, but that they also demand sacrifices and difficult decisions. And she dealt with this like a pro, making me SO PROUD of her. "There is a lot to be said for a girl who sticks by you when hardly anyone else at school will, and the two of us secretly sing ridiculous pop songs at the top of our lungs when she carpools me to school."But now the time has come to critically look at the relationships she's built and destroyed and ask herself a question - how exactly does this whole friendship thing work? How much are you expected to sacrifice? How much are you expected to ask for in return? Where is point when you've had enough? Which friends are real and which friends are not? Is it worth hanging on to the friendships that are not as 'real' as you would like? And why is being treated like a dog actually not that bad? And what is is that she, Ruby Oliver, actually wants?"And why was it that I had to lie to my friend in order to do the right thing by her? In order to be a good person, I had to pretend I didn’t feel the way I felt. Was that what good people did? Denied their feelings and acted fake?"And here's another reason why I adore Ruby Oliver books. Ruby asks herself the tough questions. She makes the hard choices. She sometimes does the right thing, and sometimes does not. But, unlike many teen heroines, she does not magically make everything right. She gets it wrong quite a bit, and does not always learn from that. She messes up like a real teenage girl would do. There is no sugar-sweet fake ending - e.lockhart thankfully seems to steer clear of those. I applauded Ruby for growing up quite a bit in the last book, and I stick by that. [Yes, she is still quite silly, and can be clueless, and yes, IS quite a bit boy-obsessed (but hey, to paraphrase her shrink, she is "sixteen years old and heterosexual", and therefore "a little obsession with boys is natural."] But her personal growth continues - despite, or maybe because of, so many things getting in the way! Like orange bras. Frogs Laden with Meaning. Mayonnaise chemistry. Orange ponchos. Bake sales (say "no" to marshmallow Jesuses and "yes" to deliciousness!). Birkenstocks and smelly feet. Offending pygmy goats. Heavy metal therapy. Carefully folded notes in her mail cubby. Nora. Noel. Meghan. Jackson. Finn. Hutch. Gideon. I love the person Ruby Oliver is growing up to be! I love her developing assertiveness and willingness to work out her issues. I love that she really tries to do the right thing. I love that she finally learns to stand up for herself, painful as it may be. I love that she continues to figure herself out, and does not let a few stumbling blocks stop her. I love that she sticks for what she believes in. I love that she comes to realize many things that quite a few of us are still struggling with in adulthood (Riding into the sunset with your true love with your hair looking gorgeous is one example of many)."[...] Sometimes, people do cut you slack and forgive you and want you anyway. Sometimes they do. And when they do, even if it's not a happy ending, it is delicious." The first Ruby Oliver book was all about Ruby making mistakes and learning that her actions have consequences. Oh, and frogs. The second book saw Ruby humbled and more mature, working on her friendships. Oh, and llamas. This book is about Ruby finally learning to assert herself, questioning the value of friendships, and confronting her 'Rabbit Fever'. Oh, and let's not forget the Great Dane Polka-Dot. I just can't wait to see what book four has in store. Go Ruby!!! 4.5 stars.------------By the way, here is a link to an awesome review by Catie, whose love for Ruby Oliver books convinced me to give them a try - and it was so worth it.------------And, if you care, here are my ramblings about the first and the second Ruby Oliver books.