This is really a weird little collection. I got it for the Ruby Oliver prequel short story by E. Lockhart. But it has six short stories, four essays, a poem, a tongue-in-cheek quiz, and a few bonus lists of jealousy-related things (music, books, movies, etc.). My favorite extra is the list of names of green Crayola crayons.
It’s weird for several reasons, but one is that although it’s supposed to be a YA title as far as I can gather (since most of the stories deal with the teenage years), the very first story is about a girl’s tenth birthday party. She’s jealous of her richer friends because her family can’t afford a fancy party. What’s a middle grade story doing in a YA book? I have no idea.
The second story is the Ruby Oliver one, and its great if you already love Roo. It’s about her involvement in a bake sale, when she’s paired up with her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend and finds herself maddeningly jealous of her.
There are several more stories: one about a girl whose boyfriend becomes infatuated with someone else; one about a girl who’s so in love with the circumstances surrounding her relationship with her boyfriend that she can’t deal when those circumstances change; one about a girl who ends up being jealous of the attention her little sister gets from the guy she herself likes (and about getting back at a bully principal); and finally one about a girl who’s jealous boyfriend drives her to find a well of courage within herself.
There are a couple of essays from friends Ned Vizzini and Marty Beckerman. Vizzini talks about death and envy, which is sad in retrospect since he committed suicide a few years ago (the essay probably can’t be taken quite at face value). Specifically, he’s jealous of Beckerman for being better at apparently everything. Beckerman’s essay is the second really weird thing about this collection. It’s full of f-bombs and innuendo, which is just odd in a collection with a middle grade story. Otherwise, it’s about being jealous of Vizzini because he’s better at everything. Two additional essays deal with sibling jealousy and overcoming jealousy of practically everything you don’t have.
I’d recommend this book mostly for the Ruby Oliver story, but if you are particularly interested in jealousy, you might find it entertaining overall. The stories and essays are a mix of serious and funny, with a dose of weird thrown in for good measure.