In a slight daze of fascinatingly-horrified recollection of what it was like to be a sixteen-year-old girl and in a sudden unexpected surge of previously dormant maternal instinct I just want to reach into this book and reassuringly pat Ruby Oliver on her shoulder. Nice job growing up, Roo. I'm actually really proud of you.It's pretty rare for me to like the sequel more than its predecessor. But how can I not in this case? I am so proud of Ruby's honest attempts to straighten out that whole mess of adolescence that we have all lived suffered through and, most importantly, to actually figure herself out and DEAL with her problems in a more or less mature way. She did come a looooong way from the seemingly shallow, passive, and really obsessed with boys and arbitrary private school social conventions girl to a still very flawed and insecure young woman who is nevertheless finding her own voice and is growing up to appreciate all the other important stuff in life. And boy, is it complicated for Ruby or what?"Think about what you want from a situation," Doctor Z is always saying, "and then try to get it." She says that to get me to stop being so passive. Because I talk too much and think too much and don't take action to get what I want. Because I blurt stuff out that might be how I feel, but that isn't remotely conducive to decent human relations." Despite the title The Boy Book, this story is not as much about boys. The titular book (with all the hilarious excerpts from it involving 'practical' advice on phone conversations with boys, making out, dating rules and other vitally important information) is really a reminder left for Ruby from simpler days before the mess with her now ex-boyfriend Jackson, before her best friend became her mortal enemy, before she achieved a dreaded 'leper' status at her high school. It is her link to happier times with her former friends Kim, Nora and Crickets, all of whom she misses terribly now, and simple solutions for every possible boy-related situations that seem to not work as well in real life anymore."I can't tell if we're friends or not," I said finally. "You and me." "I can't tell, either," she almost whispered."No, this is a story about finding yourself and learning to stand up for yourself a bit, about making right choices even when you don't want to, about learning to appreciate true friendship and kindness, about consequences that come with all your choices, and about the need to bounce back and recover no matter how badly you think you've been brought down. Ruby's voice is decidedly more mature, more grown-up - but still every bit as recognizably funny, quirky, and snarky as the one that won us over in the previous book. E.Lockhart is excellent at making Ruby sound like a real teenage girl, likeable and adorable and often clueless and slightly annoying at the same time. Reading her smartass comments (*) makes me giggle and nod in recognition of the emotions that I had when I was that age. And her footnotes and lists - I absolutely adore them!* "Jackson was there in my mind, all the time. Like a tumor."I love that this book continues to tackle the question of friendship between girls. We are often led to believe that, unlike for boys, there is little chance for true friendship between girls because they are jealous and competitive and often backstabbing and will inevitably squabble over a boy and view each others as little else but potential rivals. So many YA books have evil female characters that seem to have been introduced for little else but showcasing how the protagonist is (a) better that the clearly true female stereotype, and (b) to be a bitch to the awesome protagonist. Well, this is not the message of The Boy Book. Yes, there is Kim and the destruction of her friendship with Ruby. But there are also Meghan and Nora who are there for Ruby when her world seems to collapse. (And none of them is the 'designated ugly friend', the type that many non-evil friends in YA fiction seem to belong to, reinforcing the stereotype that girls can only be friends with other girls if they are non-threatening from a boyfriend-stealing approach. Ughhh.) In fact, the thing that got Ruby in trouble to begin with is not as much 'boy issues' as the perceived breaking of trust between friends."I left it in her mail cubby, though I had to squash it in order to get it in. It was easier than giving it to her in person. And I felt relieved. Like that whole era of my life was over. Like The Boy Book and everything it stood for--me, Nora and Cricket and Kim--was done with. And the thoughts inside it too. Some of them were worth remembering. The front-close bra and not sunbathing topless and the clever comebacks to catcalls. But most of it was in the past. It was a document of how I used to think. When I was, sort of, someone else."I love that this book does not portray any kind of idealized love that many YA books are prone to do nowadays. I'm glad that it shows friendship between girls that does not hinge on boys or is threatened by boys (in addition to the friendship that does). I love that girls in this book feel free and secure to explore their sexuality without strict moralistic lessons coming out of it. I love that slut-shaming itself gets shamed, since I think that it is a despicable concept that continues to be perpetuated in our culture as an ugly relic of 'simpler times' of not so long ago. I love that there are no Mary Sue characters that as of lately seem to fill the majority of YA books. I love the adorable email exchanges between Ruby and Noel that made me happily giggle. Basically, I adore this book!I loved this book and could not put it down. 4.5 stars and I'm rounding up without much hesitation. It was such a fun read, and it made me feel so relieved that I will never ever be a teenager again!"Hooter Rescue Squad, Official Memo Dear SHAR, It has come to our attention that despite your supposed abandonment of Mission Van Deusen, and also despite your neglect of your role as Mission Director, you have nevertheless acted heroically on behalf of the hooters. In recognition of your efforts, we hereby grant you the official Rescue Squad medal of honor, which comes in the form of a large slice of pizza with the topping of your choice, to be consumed after swim practice today--or on the day of your choosing. It's true, once you eat the pizza, you will have nothing to display on your mantelpiece, but hey--we are a low-rent organization. It's the best we can do. Vehicular transport will await you outside the pool at 4:30 p.m. (Pacific time), unless you inform us otherwise. Sincerely, and with my utmost congratulations, SHAN."