Few things are worse than being 15 (examples: nuclear war and dental work without anesthesia). As Stephen King said, "If you liked being a teenager, there’s something wrong with you." But Ruby puts on her Big Girl panties and DEALS WITH IT. No catatonia or glorified semi-suicidality. Instead, she sees a therapist, like a responsible young adult. Why is being a fifteen-year-old girl so traumatic, you ask? Some things that instantly come to mind: crippling insecurity and faltering self-esteem, arbitrary but vitally important social rules, the need to fit in and be validated, bottled-up feelings always on the verge of exploding, carelessness bordering on cruelty, and finally, those alluring, mysterious, and incredibly frustrating boys. Ruby Oliver is fifteen and, as the title suggests, is going through a tough time (those statements are practically synonyms). Within a few days she goes from a reasonably popular and happy girl to a social pariah whose boyfriend has dumped her for her best friend, whose friends have turned away from her (and she alienated those who did not), and the whole school thinks she is a "slut". And she is getting all the blame (not the boy. Never the boy). So now she has panic attacks and a poncho-wearing shrink. And she just wants things to go back to normal."I just wanted the panic attacks to stop. And the hollow, sore feeling in my chest to go away. And to feel like I could make it through lunch period without choking back tears." I expected a light-hearted fun teen high-school drama with plenty of boy crushes, silly shallowness, teen girl gossip, and all sorts of hilarious misunderstandings. And, of course, some ceramic frogs. But the author of (also fifteen-year-old) Frankie Landau-Banks delivers quite a bit more. Her book has an unexpected depth that is not in any way suggested by a ridiculously-adorable-ceramic-frog book cover. She writes a story that also encompasses the dangers of emotional lying to yourself, masking your feelings, and emotional passivity. It's a story of friendship and betrayal and unfairness. But it's not a love story. It's not a coming-of-age story about finding yourself, either. It's a story about heartbreak because of losing things you love. It is about learning to DEAL WITH plenty of nasty things life sends your way and keep yourself together, especially during the 'frogless' days. Ruby's story is far from the way too common "reader-please-insert-yourself-here" wish-fulfillment fantasy. For one, Ruby has plenty of faults that are real and not cutesy or charmingly imaginary (she can quite often be clueless, shallow, self-absorbed, and mean). "My problem is I can think whatever I think—girl power, solidarity, Gloria Steinem rah rah rah — but I still feel the way I feel.Which is jealous. And pissy about little things." There is no fairy-tale ending:- no cute previously misunderstood boy swoops in to rescue her from her troubles and make everything better;- she does not do anything special to make everyone adore her;- she does not discover the true meaning of life or have a life-changing epiphany;- she does not become a markedly better and very-grown-up-for-her-age person;- her friends don't magically understand her point of view and welcome her back with open arms.What Ruby does learn is that some honesty and self-assertiveness goes a long way. She sees how many people around her keep their true feelings bottled up - including her friend Nora and her own seemingly outspoken mother. Ruby is able to analyze her dating patterns and learn from them a bit. She learns that at least for a time being it is possible to step outside the boundaries of the shallow self-contained rich private school world. She learns that sometimes fair is just not going to happen and you just need to move on. She learns that even though your friends can be unfair and cruel, you still miss them and love them. She misses the things she lost, and knows that the new things she came to appreciate cannot replace the losses. She learns that the happy ending is not always in the works for you, and that's okay.In short, she gets some (not very fun) lessons in adulthood. Things do not get magically great for her in the end, but they do get better. This book is written for teens, but it's not juvenile. It does not gloss over the 'uncomfortable' subjects - we get frank and positive expressions of teenage sexuality (including a footnote about oral sex and some quite long boob-squeeze), we get a couple of f-bombs and a scene of underage drinking without serious consequences. The writing is very good. Overlying all the serious messages is the clear, snarky, and hilarious voice of Ruby, quirky and generously endowed with a sense of humor. There are smart references, a healthy dose of self-deprecation, funny anecdotes in the footnotes, adorable love notes from Jackson, and caring, well-meaning but absolutely clueless parents arguing whether Ruby has an eating disorder during her panic attack. -------------------------------------------------------------------------It's a refreshingly honest and funny book with a believable and relatable imperfect protagonist, with the writing that keeps you engaged in the story until the end. A light read with surprising depth. 4 stars. And I already got my hands on the next story in the series!"I was hoping there’d be a set of guidelines handed out in Sex Ed class, but Sex Ed—when I finally got to take it — was all about biology and birth control and nothing about anything that actually goes on between people. Like how to tell what it means when someone forgets to call you when he said he would, or what to do when someone gropes your boob in a movie theater."