Author: Stephanie Perkins (author website)
Release Date: Sept. 29th 2011 by Dutton Books
Age Group: Young Adult
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.
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:
Lola is F A B U L O U SAspiring 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.
The Characters: All of themStephanie 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.
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.
Lola’s DadsLola’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.
Lola’s costumes are, quite simply, seriously cool. Enough said.
Banana Elephant and Etienne St. ClairMake 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.
Cricket Graham BellGuys, 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.
The tension and the romanceLola 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:
- Anna and the French Kiss (2010)
- Lola and the Boy Next Door (2011)
- Isla and the Happily Ever After (expected