Thursday, November 18, 2010

Does anyone deserve to be treated so badly?

The Treasure Map of Boys  by E. Lockhart  YA
I was so impressed by The Disreputable History that I decided that I had to read something else by Lockhart. Unfortunately, the Education Library doesn’t have a huge range of books. This is the third in the series of Ruby Oliver books, and while I haven’t read the other two, there is enough background material to help me understand what is going on. In the past, Ruby’s boyfriend, Jackson, left her for her best friend, Kim.  Understandably, Ruby was pretty heartbroken about this and when Jackson kissed her while Kim was away, she went with it. Kim was disgusted with Ruby when she found out, and turned all her friends against her. Without any friends, Ruby starts to suffer from panic attacks and while in therapy she writes down the names of all they boys she’s had crushes on. Her ex-friends find the list, photocopy it, and leave it all over her school. Everyone at school assumes that this a list of boys Ruby has slept with, and that she’s a slut, resulting in her getting tormented in various ways. The Treasure Map starts after all this has occurred.
 Ruby has managed to make two new friends, Meghan and Nora, and there is a boy who thinks she’s lovely, Noah. However, Nora is completely head over heels about Noah, and since she’s one of Ruby’s only friends, Ruby feels that she can’t date Noah. As well, Jackson has finally broken up with Kim and he wants to be friends (or more) again. In case this isn’t too much, Ruby has been fired from her job at the petting zoo because she tells off a drunk man who puts his child in danger around the animals. Ruby’s life is just a mess and she has very few good things in it.
What I really liked about this book is the way it deals with slut shaming. It’s a real thing that happens to tons of girls and there is nothing similar that happens to boys. Ruby hasn’t done anything other than kiss someone else’s boyfriend, but that’s enough for everyone to hate her and assume the worst of her. Obviously, it wasn’t a good thing to have done, but it was a mistake and she feels horrible for having done it. People do mess up, but girls and women have to deal with the consequences for so much longer than boys and men do. I could really feel Ruby’s loneliness as she hears her ex-friends in class. She’s just managed to rebuild some sort of life out of what has happened and now there’s the chance that it’s going to be destroyed all over again because of the boys in her life.
One other thing I loved about Ruby is that although she’s a feminist, she admits to being boy crazy. She really likes being in a relationship and this makes it harder for her to ignore the sparks between her and Noah. I just find it interesting to read about a character who admits that her values don’t fall exactly in line with her desires and needs. It’s pretty realistic and I feel that teens sometimes need reminders that life isn’t all that cut and dried, especially because expectations that things must be just so can lead to bullying, as seen in the novel.
I didn’t like this one as much as The Disreputable History, possibly because I didn’t read the first two books, but I think it really has a message that some people really need to hear. There are girls experiencing slut shaming and there are tons of people letting this happen.

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