Review: ‘Lola and the Boy Next Door’ by Stephanie Perkins

Review: ‘Lola and the Boy Next Door’ by Stephanie PerkinsLola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Series: (Anna and the French Kiss #2)
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Published by Penguin on 2011-09-29
Format: Hardcover
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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.

This. Book. *Sigh*

Guys, this book was ADORABLE. It was everything I expected in a Stephanie Perkins book, and even more. I wasn’t sure how I was going to like it going in because of all the differences from Anna and the French Kiss (not set in SOAP or even abroad or at a boarding school? The tears!), but I came to love Lola all the more for these differences! 

Though San Fran is no Paris, I really did like the setting of Lola. I love hearing about the crazy neighbors in Lola’s neighborhood full of candy-colored victorian houses, getting to know the places she frequents in the area (like the neighborhood playground where you can sled down the grass on pizza boxes), and just the general sense of home. SOAP is a pretty awesome place, but it was great to get to know a place where a character has lived for a while, and hearing all the memories associated with it. 

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Anna’s dad rocks.

And unlike in Anna, we really get the chance to know Lola’s parents — and they’re absolutely awesome! They chat with her, encourage her to be herself, and even defend her against snooty customers (you’ll love it). It’s always great to read a YA book with a supportive family, and her parents become even more important to her whenever she is dealing with her often-difficult birth mother. And because I picked up this book wanting a light contemporary, I was glad that Lola’s adoption didn’t overwhelm the plot, and it instead added a bit of depth.

But what have I been rambling on about for so long? THIS IS A PERKINS BOOK, LET’S GET TO THE BOYS! (*ahem* Sorry.) Ya know, I think I found something on the book’s Goodreads page that sums it up perfectly. It’s from Rainbow Rowell’s review of the book:

Stephanie Perkins writes excellent boys. Girls, too — but ESPECIALLY boys. They feel specific. Like real people, not shapeless dream things.

I REALLY wish I had the book now, but I checked out a library copy. But if I did have it, I would take out an excerpt where Lola is describing Cricket’s hands. Yes, his hands. His beautiful, caring, meticulous, and ingenious hands. Hands that create Rube Goldbergs just to do simple tasks, or that build a transport system between their two houses to carry notes and things. Hands that always have reminders written on them, from buy eggs to seize the day. Yes, I’ll admit it: I fell in love with the boy’s hands.

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Well said.

So, needless to say, Cricket Bell is intoxicatingly amazing. Perkins writes him so well, giving him such a caring personality, but also making him capable of mistakes. Lola and his love story is not a simple one — in fact, it’s kinda messy — but it’s a lovely one that you’ll just have to read.

But what bugged me about the book towards the end was one little bone I had to pick with Lola. Just like Anna, Lola seems to have a hamartia — a fatal flaw (hehe, a TFIOS reference!). Though she comes to realize her feelings for someone else, she just can’t seem to bring herself to break off her current relationship, and of course is essentially emotionally cheating on her boyfriend. It seems all to obvious to me that this is just a plot ploy on Perkins’ part to keep the story going in a certain direction, but it drives me crazy that Lola can’t just wake up and do what’s right, when it’s all too evident. (*Throws hands up in air in disgust*)

All that’s left to discuss is one of my FAVORITE parts of the book — its companionship! Being the second in a loosely-constructed ‘series’, two characters from Anna appear in Lola — St. Clair, and of course, Anna. Lola happens to work at the movie theater that Anna works in, and Cricket knows St. Clair from Berkeley, where they go to school together. Let me just say that any part with Anna or more likely St. Clair had me fangirling TO THE MAX. Anna lovers, take note: if anything else, read this book just for these parts (though the rest is spectacular as well). Not only are Anna/St.Clair parts often swoon-worthy, but they usually served a useful purpose in the book. Now, please leave me be to mentally prepare Anna and Étienne’s wedding…

Absolutely gobbled this book up. Perkins fans will approve.

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