Over the course of her high school career—and three previous novels—Ruby Oliver has developed quite a reputation, at least in her own mind. She’s the unstable girl, the one who has to see a shrink, the constant worrier who’s prone to panic attacks. As readers have also discovered, however, Ruby’s also very, very funny, a hyper-verbal observer of high school and family life, and a vulnerable, endearing heroine who’s both realistically flawed and thoroughly likable.

Not surprisingly, as Ruby starts her senior year in Real Live Boyfriends, her life is in crisis yet again. Senior year’s scary for everyone; Ruby compares it to being on the edge “of this precipice . . . of the end of high school, of college, of love, of scary, complicated, adult-type relationships.” As if that weren’t frightening enough, her parents are both acting less mature than Ruby herself, her friends can’t be trusted, and her very own “real live boyfriend” has come back from New York all cagey and weird. When Ruby’s the most level-headed person in her life, something must be very wrong. Or maybe Ruby’s just discovering that she might have to rewrite her own opinion of herself after all.

E. Lockhart’s novels featuring Ruby Oliver have all been startlingly perceptive, genuinely poignant and extremely funny. Ruby’s genuine empathy and whip-smart narration belie her many self-doubts. Readers long ago figured out that, in spite of everything, Ruby Oliver was going to be just fine; now, in the fourth and final volume in her story, Ruby’s finally figuring that out, too.

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