Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lola and the Boy Next Door, Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door, Stephanie Perkins
Title: Lola and the Boy Next Door
Author: Stephanie Perkins (author website)
Release Date: Sept. 29th 2011 by Dutton Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 star

I went into Lola and the Boy Next Door expecting to read Anna and the French Kiss. In other words, I expected perfect. But, like its vibrant titular protagonist, Lola and the Boy Next Door isn’t perfect. It’s about a flawed girl, difficult choices, and a beautiful, sweet, overwhelmingly kind boy next door. Like someone very wise once said, “it's a person's imperfections that make them perfect for someone else.” And I think it might just apply to books named Lola, as well as girls.

From Goodreads:
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.

I finished Lola and the Boy Next Door in a happy, dazed blur, so rather than presenting you with a marathon-length gush, I thought I’d try something different. So here you are:

8 Reasons (among many) to read Lola and the Boy Next Door:

  1. Lola is F A B U L O U S
    Aspiring costume designer, Lola, is quirky, independent, funny and utterly unique. She never dresses the same way twice. She’s a different version of herself every day—on the outside. She’s vegetarian. She speaks and prays to the moon like it’s her oldest friend. But perhaps the coolest thing about Lola is that she’s not perfect. In fact, she’s quite often a mess. She makes mistakes, and she hurts the people around her. She lies—often—but she’s not malicious. She’s sweet, bubbly, caring, and she’s completely herself.
  2. The Characters: All of them
    Stephanie Perkins writes completely distinctive characters. Lola is nothing like Anna—she has a unique voice. She never sounds like Anna, or anyone but herself. Cricket is nothing like Etienne. Whether it’s Lola’s dads, her birth mother, Cricket’s twin sister and resident mean-girl (perhaps), Calliope, every character is completely new, completely wonderful, and perfectly imagined. 100% not recycled.
  3. Lola has a real BFF.
    Lindsay Lim is a wannabee Nancy Drew, permanently dressed in red Chuck Taylors. She gets her own happy ending, too. Perfect, or what? She might not have a huge role to play, and they don't always do the right thing by one another, but you can see real friendship. I loved this.
  4. Lola’s Dads
    Lola’s dads are lovely. They have a beautiful, caring, real relationship, and Stephanie Perkins presents us with a gay couple who aren’t camp, aren’t caricatures, but are good, kind, real people. They’re good parents, and Lola’s little family unit is sweet and wonderful and welcoming. They deal with normal family dramas, love each other like any other family, because they are. Perkins is making a statement with Andy and Nathan, yes. But it’s never preachy, never overt, and it’s an essential, beautiful part of the story.
  5. Lola’s costumes are, quite simply, seriously cool. Enough said.
  6. Banana Elephant and Etienne St. Clair
    Make no mistake, this is Lola’s story, but Anna and Etienne return to the page, and play no small part in Lola and the Boy Next Door. It’s lovely to see one of my favourite couples reappear, even more in love than before. Fans of Anna, prepare to be charmed by a certain boy masterpiece and our delightfully neurotic girl all over again.
  7. Cricket Graham Bell
    Guys, I loved Cricket Bell just as much as I loved Anna and the French Kiss’ Etienne St.Clair. But Cricket Bell is not Etienne. Cricket is awkward, geeky, and—this ‘word’ has never been more appropriate—completely adorkable. There are no moral quandaries for Cricket. It’s painfully obvious he’s desperately in love with Lola, but he respects she has a boyfriend. Cricket’s had a difficult childhood, and been constantly moved around the country, but he’s not bitter, he’s not broken. He’s sunshine. He’s simple. He’s good. He’s sweet and funny, and kind. He’s as quirky in his own ways as Lola is in hers. Cricket is amazing.
  8. The tension and the romance
    Lola and Cricket are perfect for each other, just like mac and cheese, fries and ketchup, or hot chocolate and marshmallows (note to self: no more writing when hungry). From the first moment Cricket Bell shows his sweet, goofy face, it’s painfully obvious that Lola’s deep deep deep in Denial. Yes—with a capital ‘D’. The tension between them crackles with electricity. It’s delightful and heartbreaking to watch the two struggle with their genuine friendship, and the strain their draw to one another causes. And when the two share a moment… there’s fire. Innocent glances and a brush of hands holds so much heat and intensity and longing it’s a palpable, living thing.

The Verdict:

Lola Nolan is not Anna Oliphant, and Lola and the Boy Next Door is certainly not Anna and the French Kiss. They’re both different, and both have their own unique brand of charm and magic. In some ways, I wanted more from Lola. I wanted more Cricket, I wanted more Lola and Cricket, I wanted to see more of Lola’s world, to see more of Lola's friends and family and relationships. But that’s what makes Lola so wonderful: I want more. I’m so completely charmed by Stephanie Perkins—again—that I don’t want to stop living in her world.

Stephanie Perkins once again brings the charm, magic and je ne sais quoi that made her debut so utterly memorable and loveable. Sparkling, vibrant characters, and sugar sweet, heart-melting romance as colourful and vivid as the blindingly bright Lola herself combine to make Lola what it is: simply wonderful.

Books in This Series:

  1. Anna and the French Kiss (2010)
  2. Lola and the Boy Next Door (2011)
  3. Isla and the Happily Ever After (expected 2012 2013)

28 comments:

  1. I've heard so many good things about Lola. I really should get to it. Glad you enjoy it.

    Safari Poet

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you liked Anna I'm SURE you'll like it. Anna was AMAZING. This is also SUPER fun :D

      Delete
  2. Great review Sarah :) I liked Lola :) I prefer Anna though :P And I too, wanted more of Lola and Cricket :) ;) <3

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  3. THE PROBLEM with reading your reviews is that I am always, always dying to read the book afterwards. Even if I've already read it. (Okay, so it's not much of a "problem"...)

    I actually loved LOLA more than ANNA but they're both special for their own reasons. I loooove Stephanie Perkins' distinct characters and I was SO HAPPY to find out that Anna and St. Clair would play such a big role (I was expecting them to pop in for 10 seconds and then never be heard from again).

    Oh Cricket... <3 Adorkable is RIGHT! I love that boy so, so much - flaws and all.

    F A B U L O U S list, Sarah ;)

    Sonia

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    Replies
    1. BAHAHAHAHAH. I remember having this discussion with Sonia and SONIA, YOU LOVE CRICKET MORE THAN ETIENNE ST. CLAIR. Poor St. Clair. LOL.

      AAAAAA Sarah, your review is PERFECT. LOLA is simply another AWESOME novel from Stephanie Perkins and I'm already biting my nails waiting for ISLA. I AM ALSO SO HAPPY Anna & St. Clair makes an appearance here. THEY ARE SO CUTE! SO ADORABLE. SO SWEET.

      CRICKET GRAHAM BELL. GAH, he is like the opposite of St. Clair. When I finished LOLA, I ended up loving Cricket just as much as St. Clair but then, somehow I end up choosing Etienne, :P

      Anyway, SO GLAD YOU ENJOYED IT! Can't wait for 2013!!! ♥

      Delete
    2. I think you mean poor CRICKET.

      It's not his fault he doesn't have a sexy accent :( LOL.

      AND OMG YES. 2013. ISLA. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA <3333

      Delete
    3. But Cricket is tall. And he invents stuff. WHO NEEDS AN ACCENT?

      That being said, I did love Anna and Etienne. BUT I LOVED LOLA AND CRICKET SO, SO, SO, SO, SO MUCH! <3


      Also:

      THE PROBLEM with reading your reviews is that I am always, always dying to read the book afterwards. Even if I've already read it.

      YES TIMES A ONE MILLION THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY TWO THOUSAND.

      Delete
    4. NO WAY. YOU LOVED LOLA AND CRICKET MORE? :(

      *cries while Brodie and Sonia high fives because they both love Cricket*

      Delete
    5. I DIDN'T! I love love LOVED Cricket, but Etienne is, like, more swoony? Cricket gives me big goofy smiles and happies, though :D

      Delete
    6. YAY! I LOVE YOU EVEN MORE NOW! ;P Etienne is WAY MORE SWOONY!

      Delete
  4. i so want to read it
    not really a dudish cover lol
    but i want it
    rad list sarah

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  5. Swoon city!!! I don't know how Stephanie Perkins does it, but she does such an amazing job creating flawed, yet wonderful characters. Reading your review makes me want to revisit them...AND STAY WITH THEM FOREVER. I wish I could! I cannot wait for Isla's release because Steph Perkins holds the key to perfect reads (oooh that rhymes!). Love the review!

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  6. Aww, this is such an adorable review! I love it! When I first read Lola, I wasn't really into it because I thought Lola was too bratty and CRICKET, what kind of name is that. My co-blogger disagreed with me and said she liked Lola because she was such a teenager. Well, I recently re-read it and I liked it a lot more the second time! I love that you said that it's not the same as Anna because it isn't. I think they're both charming but in different ways. I applaud Stephanie Perkins for writing such delightful books. I loved your review, Sarah! ♥

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  7. Awesome review Sarah!! I loved Lola almost as much as Anna ;)

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  8. Your review is hilarious! "adorkable" :) I love Anna story too! Im glad this story is completely it's own story, though anna's was wonderfulo. I still need to find a copy of Lola and buy it.

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  9. Eep!I LOVED this book so much. <3 Lola and Cricket! <3 I love how you listed reasons to read it. Ahh reading your review makes me want to reread this book again! BRILLIANT review, Sarah! I can NOT wait to read Isla and the Happily Ever After.

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  10. YES! Agreed with everything you said. This book was brilliant and I loved Lola and Cricket so, so much. Anyway great review!

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  11. AHHHHH I LOVE THIS REVIEW! I personally loved Anna heaps more than Lola but they were both fabulous and you're so right-they are completely different to eachother! 100% original!
    I have so much love for Stephanie Perkins <3

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  12. I've enjoyed Lola and the Boy Next door too! I've also enjoyed reading your 8 reasons why we should read the book. Fabulous!

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  13. Your list makes me want to re-read this book (as well as "Anna")! The characters were all so well developed, and I especially loved her dads. One of the things that bothers me with many YA books is how parents tend to be absent or uninvolved in the lives of their children, but Lola's dads were just wonderful! The frequent appearances of Anna and St. Clair also made me smile, and I was pleasantly surprised about how often we saw them in this book, but also relieved that they didn't "steal the show" away from Lola, if that makes sense.

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  14. I've actually seen this one around and am interested in reading it. It seems like the characters really make this book. I think I could read a book with almost no description or backstory and still love it as long as it had amazing characters. You have to love the characters to love the book. Thanks for the awesome review.

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  15. Oh Sarah, reading your review makes me feel nostalgic and happy and completely taken away -- it was just so beautiful! <3 Seriously, you nailed this book from the bull's eye! This book was not Anna and Anna was not this book, but they were both still AMAZING. (Although I have to admit that the re-appearance of Etienne and Anna made this book even more awesome for me -- it made me squeal when we could see how perfect they were for one another from a bystander's eyes!)

    Gorgeous, breathtaking, and totally quote-worthy (DO YOU HEAR THAT, PUBLISHERS?) review, Sarah! <3 Imagine me hugging you right now because that's what I want to do! x)

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  16. YES. I love that you mention they are NOT recycled characters. It can be easy for an author to fall into that trap, but... wow. Stephanie has a talent for creating vibrant characters that leap straight off the page and into your heart. And YES x2 I especially love that her dads were REAL. Not... stereotypical 'gay characters' HEEEEEEEEEEEE. CRICKET BELL. ADORKABLE. HELL YES. Who says nice guys finish last? WHO? Give me a Cricket any effing day of the week *huggles him*

    Stephanie Perkins = my favourite contemporary writer EVER.

    Sarah We Need A Fictional Boy Last Name For You = destroyer of sleep. How can I sleep now when I have a stupid grin on my face thinking of Cricket and Etienne and Anna and Lola all over again? YOUR REVIEWS. THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL.

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  17. Awesome review, especially Point 7! Adorkable is the PERFECT word for Cricket. And I actually really love that Lola doesn't just jump straight into a relationship with Cricket the moment she breaks up with Max, but has that time out to figure stuff out.

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  18. Hee, the BFF sounds like fun--and so does the book! I can't believe I still haven't read this one yet. Love the review, Sarah. :)

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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  19. OMG! I can't believe I didn't see this until RIGHT NOW :( GAHHH!! My RSS is FAIL!!

    Anyhoo, YES YES YES!! Mother of God! There's something about Stephanie Perkins' novels that just shine and sparkle. It's like you just wanna love pat those books while whispering, "Pretty. My pretty..."

    *cough* Anyhoo, yes. Completely agree. Lola rocked my lady trousers.

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  20. This one sounds more appealing to me than the first one. Do you think I will like this one more?

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  21. This review made me laugh. I'm with you on preferring Cricket to St. Clair. But a lot of people feel the opposite! Love her books so much.

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