Elevate Difference

How to Ruin Your Boyfriend's Reputation

The world of young adult books never ceases to be amazing. With a range of topics reminding us of our stressful adolescent selves, young adult books hold a set amount of information about friendships with other girls, jealousy, boyfriends, questions about sex, and overall embarrassing experiences that the characters will laugh about when they look back on their lives.

How to Ruin Your Boyfrend's Reputation fits perfectly into this mold. The third in a series by Simone Elkeles, this specific work explores a young woman's issues of sex, commitment to boyfriends, and the pettiness of some relationships with other girls. If we remember our younger attitudes of what is "cool" and important, we can easily identify with protagonist Amy Nelson-Bakar.

Amy signs up with her friends for a youth "bootcamp" in Israel. Although Amy’s friends join for more giving reasons, like learning about their Jewish culture, her ulterior motive is to see a boyfriend stationed at this specific base. She chooses to surprise him, and in doing so, he surprises her with his seriousness and responsibility as a slightly older man. The trials of the bootcamp wear on Amy, and as she begins to understand the commitment of her boyfriend and perseveres in difficult situations not unlike real military training, Amy learns to be a little more faithful and develops a tougher skin. She definitely learns some lessons by the end of the book, yet she maintains her teenage ideals, and as readers, we know she will continue to be challenged.

What is interesting about this novel is how the author brings her own Jewish background to her main character Amy. Elkeles explains Jewish terms for those who are not familiar with the words or traditions, and readers of all faiths can appreciate the quirky character of Amy. In addition, Elkeles captures a youthful attitude in her writing, and attributes her young adult books to maintaining this spirit. Growing up in the 1980s, Elkeles brings out struggles from her youth.

A delightful page turner, How to Ruin Your Boyfrend's Reputation proves that we, as young adults, face conflicts of all sizes, and we make choices to either persevere or give up. Reminding us of our childhoods, this book proves that we may make assumptions about life, but once we experience a little more, we can succeed and move on.

Written by: Carolyn Espe, January 17th 2010

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