Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Dutton, 338 pages
Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit — more sparkly, more fun, more wild — the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.
When Cricket — a gifted inventor — steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.
It’s no secret that I loved Anna and the French Kiss last year, and it was one of my favorite reads in 2010. I think I neglected to add the companion novel to Anna in my Most Anticipated Reads for 2011, but soon after the cover and reviews for Lola and the Boy Next Door started popping up in blogs, I was really, really excited to get my grubby hands on it. :D
In Stephanie Perkins’ sophomore novel, we meet Lola Nolan, a girl who is always in costume — outrageous dresses, different hair such as sexy red wig and crazy accessories and make-up. Lola prides herself not only in her creative fashion sense, but also with her rocker and much older boyfriend Max, who her dads do not approve of. Still, Lola’s life is pretty good, until the Bell twins next door moved back. See, Lola had history with the boy next door — he broke her heart years ago. Swearing not to let Cricket Bell’s arrival bother her, Lola tries to carry on with her life, but she’s finding it hard when Cricket seems to be everywhere she goes, and it’s even harder for her when she realizes that she likes Cricket being there.
Ah Lola. Lola is a fun read, with the signature Perkins banter and characters. Lola’s world is very easy to get into, and I loved all the characters in the book, even if some of them got in my nerves. I remember reading the excerpt of this book way before it was released and I was already amused at how Lola had two dads. The characterization is awesome, as usual, and everyone just seemed more colorful here, like they all reflect Lola’s costuming personality. Add the fun dialogue to that and I was smiling and chuckling every now and then. :) I like it when the characters’ conversations feel authentic. And yes, I like it very much that we see more of Anna and Etienne here, and I still feel myself smiling every time I read about them here. It’s nice to see other loved characters showing up in another story — this is why I like reading spin-offs.
However, I find myself feeling a little bit distant with Lola. Unlike Anna, where I saw myself in some parts of her, I just couldn’t relate to Lola. I don’t know why, but Lola just seemed…well, different. I liked her voice, and I thought she was genuinely funny and creative, but I thought she was also…I don’t know, a tad immature? To be honest, there was a time when I really, really hated her, especially with how she treated Cricket. Not that she was especially mean to him, but she might as well be with how she handled her confusion with him. I liked her growth in the book, though. I’m not one to know, but people say her struggles in this book sound realistic, so I will take their word for it. ;) However, I do think Lola may be a bit too hippie for my taste.
Oh but Cricket. How much do I love him? This geek totally won my heart, just like how other blogger friends I know did. His adorable geekiness and his earnestness in with Lola and his love for his twin…everything just won me over. :) That’s why I wonder sometimes why Lola was having such a hard time with Max vs. Cricket — as if there was ever a contest? Although I must say that after I learned more about Cricket’s personality, it felt like Max was suddenly shown in a bad light. I guess there would have been more conflict if Max wasn’t shown to be such a bad person as the story went on. I mean, yes Cricket is amazing, but it doesn’t mean Max is an absolute bad guy, right?
My “I-can-relate!” factor for Lola is lower than it was for Anna because of my distance with Lola, but I found myself feeling so much for Cricket that sometimes I had to stop reading because I was hurting so much for him. Exaggeration? Maybe. I’ll never tell. ;) But I so wanted to give Cricket a hug when he said: “Please don’t make this any harder than it already is.” </3
I liked Lola and the Boy Next Door, but not as much as I loved Anna and the French Kiss. Still, I think this is a good spin-off, and I will definitely still be one of the first in line to get Stephanie Perkins’ next novel. :)
My copy: hardbound from Book Depository