Title: Lola and the Boy Next Door
Author: Stephanie Perkins
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 read this book soon after I read Stephanie Perkins’ debut, Anna and the French Kiss, which I had had enjoyed. After reading this book, though, I was in love with Perkins’ quirky characters and great writing. I thought this book was even better than the first, from the interesting characters and the adventures of Lola. The San Francisco setting is just as interesting, if not more, than the Paris one from Anna’s adventures. And, while I though St. Clair was a nice romantic interest, I think Cricket was ten times better (and, since I liked St. Clair well enough, that tells you how much I liked Cricket). He was a great guy, full of interesting little quirks. Lola had her own as well, mostly stemming from her crazy and interesting fashion choices.
I liked how this book, a companion of Anna and the French Kiss, incorporated characters from the first book. When I first saw the name ‘Anna’ show up as a co-worker at the movie theater Lola works at, I thought it was strange that Perkins would come up with a character, even a minor one, who had the same name as a previous protagonist. When I realized that it was the same character, though, and St. Clair showed up as well, it made the story even more interesting. They didn’t play a big part in this book, other than being there for Lola and providing readers of the previous book with the chance to see the couple in happier and stabler times than in Anna and the French Kiss, but it was nice to see them in there, and see how they connected to this story as well.
My favorite part of this book was the characters. Lola was interesting, and even when she made some mistakes, I was still cheering her on, even if I thought she needed a push in the right direction at times. Cricket was a great love interest, from his obsession with inventing things to the various notes and artwork that showed up on his hand. Lola’s fathers were funny and genuine, not falling into gay stereotypes or acting as disinterested parents that seem to show up in YA a lot, allowing the protagonist to do what they please for the most part. Lola’s mother was an interesting addition, and it was nice to see how she fit into the family dynamic, even though she was often missing from Lola’s life. Calliope sometimes seemed a little uneven, but overall a fairly real character. Even Max, who’s Lola’s “hot rocker boyfriend,” seemed like a decent guy, interesting enough to be with Lola, before Cricket steals the spotlight.
After reading Anna and the French Kiss, I enjoyed Perkins’ writing. After reading this book, I loved her stories. Now I can’t wait to read the final companion book, Isla and the Happily Ever After, which is currently set to come out sometime next year, and anything else that Perkins writes in the future.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars