Date: September 29, 2011
Series or Standalone: Standalone (Companion)
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
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First line: I have three simple wishes.
This review is going to be all butterflies and squeals, much like what happens while reading it. (And NO SPOILERS! I PROMISE!!) I have nothing but love—over joyous, shout-it-from-the-mountaintops LOVE—for Lola and the Boy Next Door. To say that Stephanie Perkins has “done it again” is an understatement. Not only did she “do it again” but she did it BETTER. She did it in such a way that she re-established herself to a new level of amazing, higher than she did with Anna and the French Kiss. At least in my opinion.
Lola & The Boy Next Door is nothing short of stupendous. In fact, I liked it way more than Anna (which I loved so much.)
The story is pretty simple (only not.) Lola lives in San Francisco with her parents (Andy and Nathan) and her dog. She has an older boyfriend, Max, who’s in a band, and she makes her own clothes. Her rule in life: never wear the same outfit twice. She has fun wigs, loves sparkles and she is fantastic. Enter the new neighbors…who in fact, are old neighbors: Calliope and Cricket Bell. They grew up together. Calliope and Lola the worst of friends; Cricket the first boy she ever kissed. But she doesn’t like him anymore. In fact, she hates him because he hurt her and then left. But when he shows up, all tight pants and wide smiles, Lola realizes that maybe her feelings for the boy next door are something more than hating him. And her whole life spins out of control faster than she can change her wig! Now, she has no idea who "the one" for her really is.
I really loved Lola. One thing I don’t want to do is compare this book to Anna—because they are very, very different books. (Even if Anna and St. Clair are in this one, which they are.) It’s so easy to look at something and compare it to what came before. All of my conversations have even done this, but it’s not really fair to either book because they are different characters, stories, emotions and reactions. So I will try hard not to do that.
Lola is a spunky girl. She’s pretty confident in who she is, knows what she likes, knows what she wants--at least she thinks she does at first. She loves her life—which is not perfect and has things she would change, but she loves it—which is refreshing. She has a solid friendship with Lindsey, the Nancy Drew to her Ned. Lola is a far from normal girl with her family and her clothes, yet she is normal in every single way. She has flaws! Her best flaw: she says things and doesn't realize she said it out-loud until someone comments on it. It really shows you how sometimes, she’s kind of lost in her own head and ignorant to what’s really going on around her—but who isn’t? She’s human, and I love her.
I can’t say a single bad thing about this book. I loved everything. Her gay dads, Nathan and Andy, are probably one of my favorite aspects of the story. One owns a pie business and one’s a lawyer, but both have intricate roles in Lola’s life and “neither is ‘the woman.’ They’re both gay men. Duh.” I love their relationship with Lola. They offer support, understanding, actual involvement in her life, and cute over-protectiveness. In a world of literature where parents are rare—and gay parents are even more rare—they are very important to the story. I can’t imagine it without them. This is because Perkins does them wonderfully, without adhering to stereotypes and with complete and utter awareness of their characters. There’s even the added dimension of her birth mother, who is in the picture in an unusual yet endearing way. She’s a great catalyst for Lola and I like seeing their interactions.
Then we have the boyfriend, Max. He’s older than she is and this is a big problem for her parents. But they give him a chance. I really liked Max in the beginning. I liked Max so much that when Cricket came to the scene, I wanted him to go away. I didn’t know why Lola hated him, but I didn’t even care. I liked Max. And then….and then something happened: I turned the page. And fell madly in love with Cricket Bell.
Cricket Bell is amazing. He’s quite possibly the most amazing male speciman that’s ever existed in literature. Or at least he’s WAY up there. Like, next to Mr. Darcy. (Seriously.) My love for Cricket surpassed my love for Etienne St. Clair in the first few pages of meeting him. Cricket is shy and sweet and sincere. He’s so adorable, consistent, genuine, smart, giving, caring, pure, kind…and I adore him. I want to steal him away and keep him in my pocket! I love him. I love him. I don't know what else to say about it. He’s TOTALLY the boy next door and beyond perfection. We really get to connect with Cricket—and there’s no wondering why she’s confused about her feelings toward him and toward Max.
There’s this whole journey that Lola goes through. It really shows her character, shows what she’s dealing with and when it’s all over, you can look back and know how much she’s grown. I love so many, many, many things about this part of the story. There are times in the journey I’m so frustrated with Lola, but the payoff is beyond worth it. Beyond. Part of this is that Lola tries to make herself be fully whole, fully alive, fully aware before she gives her heart away. This is rare. Lola finds herself before she finds the real boy of her dreams. And I absolutely applaud that.
There are some other really great things about Lola and the Boy Next Door. The cover is one of them. While Cricket isn’t what I saw, there are so many minor details on the cover that are major details in the story. I won’t say what they are, but when you read the book go back and look at the cover. You will swoon and squeal even more.
The end of the book is another thing I loved. It is filled (and overflowing) with so much ooey-gooey-goodness that it will take over your soul. Seriously. It’s GOOD. It’s romantic. It’s chocked full of all the reasons this book soars. It’s completely that thing which makes Perkins stand out among all the contemporary YA romance stories.
I really want to say that if you liked Anna and the French Kiss then you’ll like Lola and the Boy Next Door. But I don’t think I mean it. For me, all the things Anna had/lacked are repeated/fulfilled in Lola sevenfold. Someone who didn’t like Anna could love Lola just as someone who loved Anna could love Lola. I don’t know how you can read Lola and NOT love it. I would definitely recommend everyone give a try. I think it’s a very surprising and wonderful story.
I think I should stop now. I could go on and on about this book. It did not disappoint. Stephanie Perkins captures love and all the things we’re afraid to dream of with such an ease that you can’t help but fall for every aspect of the story. Lola and the Boy Next Door will leave you feeling with butterflies in your stomach, squeals on your lips and Cricket Bell in your thoughts. Lola and the Boy Next Door is stupendous.