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Friday, October 21, 2011

REVIEW: "Lola and the Boy Next Door" by Stephanie Perkins


SERIES: loosely connected to Anna and the French Kiss
PUBLISHER: Dutton
PUBLICATION DATE: September 2011
GENRE: Young Adult-Romance
READ DATE: October 2011
SOURCE: Bought-Book Depository
SUMMARY: 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...




MY THOUGHTS:

One of my absolute favorite reads of 2011 has been Stephanie Perkins's Anna and the French Kiss.  Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I was super excited to read the follow-up Lola and the Boy Next Door.  I will admit I was slightly worried that Lola... would be a letdown after the amazingness (not a word, I know) that was Anna and St. Clair's story.  But, I needn't have worried!  Lola and the Boy Next Door proved to me that Stephanie Perkins is definitely a YA author to watch out for in the future!

This book, unlike Anna, takes place in San Francisco, California and tells the story of an eccentric girl named Lola Nolan and her friendship/relationship with her "new" next door neighbor, Cricket.  Essentially, the plot is nothing completely out of the ordinary.  Lola and Cricket were friends and neighbors for years and, as happens, they began to have feelings for each other during high school.  Unfortunately, their relationship was derailed by a few incidents and they have not seen each other for a significant amount of time.  But, when Cricket and his family move back to town and into their old house, all the past feelings come up in some hilarious and poignant ways.  What sets Lola and the Boy Next Door apart from other books with a similar storyline is the characters and the way Stephanie Perkins develops the romance. 

Lola, our protagonist, is one of the most unique characters I've come across in contemporary YA fiction.  She has two dads and has a serious love affair with clothes.  And I am not talking about high fashion with labels and cute little trends.  Lola wears, essentially, costumes complete with wigs, make-up, and a host of other accessories.  But, the interesting clothing style does not define Lola.  She is a typical seventeen year old girl who desires independence yet still cares deeply about her family/friends.  She has her "bratty" moments, but it is realistic for a heroine her age.  Figuring out where you want to go in life is part of young adulthood and Lola's journey is a subtle one that is no less important for teenage girls today. 

And then there's Cricket Bell.  Cricket is one of my favorite YA heroes ever!  He is the epitome of the boy next door with funny hair, interesting fashion sense, and quirky hobbies.  Specifically, Cricket Bell is an inventor who specializes in Rube Goldberg-esque inventions.  Goldberg inventions are elaborate machines that are designed to perform a simple task.  Cricket's personality really shines in this book.  He has always appeared in the background due to his twin sister Calliope's skating abilities, but he uses his newfound college experience and his renewed friendship with Lola to step out of Calliope's shadow in a big way.  In a nutshell, Cricket is funny, sweet, genuine, and appreciates Lola for exactly who she really is.

Stephanie Perkins offers up a contrast to Cricket in the character of Max who is Lola's older rocker boyfriend.  Lola's relationship with Max is pretty stereotypical with the whole bad boy who the parents dislike angle.  While I understood Max's purpose, it was obvious from the beginning how flawed the relationship was and I would have appreciated getting more indepth about Max's personality beyond the rocker cliche. 

Another significant relationship in this book is between Lola and her family.  As I mentioned earlier, Lola has two dads so the situation is a little unorthodox.  But, I liked how Perkins emphasized that Lola and her dads were a complete family, regardless of its uniqueness.  One of the big hurdles that Lola comes across involves her birth mother, Norah, who re-appears throughout the book and always brings out Lola's bratty yet insecure side.  I liked how Lola and Norah's relationship progressed in a realistic fashion as opposed to the puppies and rainbows that could have popped up. 

There are quite a few other minor characters that kept me interested throughout the book.  I really liked Lola and her best friend Lindsey's friendship.  They were so different yet complimented each other perfectly.  I especially loved their Halloween costumes!  Another character that I wish had gotten more depth was Cricket's sister Calliope.  She has the reputation and aura that comes from being a famous Olympic-level ice skater, but I kept hoping for more detail on her personality.  And, of course, I would be a horrible Stephanie Perkins' fangirl if I didn't mention how much I loved seeing Anna and St. Clair again.  Their scenes were so funny and really made me want to go re-read Anna and the French Kiss.

In conclusion, this was a great follow-up to Anna... for Stephanie Perkins.  The romance between Lola and Cricket was sweet and a perfect compliment to their characters.  I look forward to Isla and the Happily Ever After!



4.5 OUT OF 5 STARS

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“I know you aren't perfect. But it's a person's imperfections that make them perfect for someone else.”


“So do you believe in second chances?" I bite my lip.
"Second, third, fourth. Whatever it takes. However long it takes. If the person is right," he adds.
"If the person is... Lola?"
This time, he holds my gaze. "Only if the other person is Cricket.”


SERIES INFORMATION:

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

INTERESTING LINKS:

Book Depository Page
Goodreads Page
Author Website
Author Blog
My Book Boyfriend Post: Cricket Bell

1 comment:

  1. I decided to come check out your review of this after you commented on my anna review (thanks for stopping by btw). I'm even more excited to read this now after hearing a little bit more about it. It sounds really unique.

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