I thoroughly enjoyed reading Anna and the French Kiss last year and I’ve been looking forward to its companion novel, Lola and the Boy Next Door, since last year. I pre-ordered my copy from the Book Depository and I’ve been waiting for it to arrive once I got the notification that it was dispatched. It didn’t help that so many reviews kept popping up in the blogosphere, which made me more curious about this book so I dived right in as soon as my copy arrived.
Here’s the summary from Stephanie Perkins’ website:
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 like how Stephanie Perkins writes contemporary YA – they’re light, fun and easy to fall into but are more complicated than what you’d initially expect. While Lola and the Boy Next Door wasn’t as swoon-worthy as Anna and the French Kiss, it has its own merits. Can I just bring this up real quick: “lola” in Filipino means grandmother although it’s pronounced differently, with a short vowel “o” instead of a long one. Just found that funny. Anyway, I think it’s awesome that Lola expresses herself through her daily outfits. She’s passionate about her costumes and she wants to continue doing that kind of thing for the rest of her life. That kind of enthusiasm and determination is always admirable. I also enjoyed reading about Lola’s dads because I think they’re really cool parents. And Anna and St. Clair were minor characters in this book too, they didn’t just have cameos. However, my favorite character in Lola and the Boy Next Door is Cricket Bell. A cute, nerdy, thoughtful guy who dresses well? My kind of guy! Cricket is someone who I can totally root for. It doesn’t hurt that he’s into science and inventing things. I used to say that I love science and math but they don’t love me back, otherwise, I wouldn’t have such a hard time with them. So yay Cricket for being smart in those fields. I love that Stephanie Perkins’ male leads have been nice guys so far, I hope that’s something that will carry over in her next novel.
All is not well in Lola-land when the Bell twins move back in the house next door. She’s not in good terms with Calliope, and Cricket broke her heart right before they left. And she shouldn’t even be concerned when it comes to Cricket because she’s currently in a relationship with someone else: Max, who plays in a band and is five years older than she is. Okay, I get why Lola fell for Max. He has that bad boy, older guy appeal and he was willing to exert effort for their relationship to work – he put up with her dads’ rules like having brunch with them every week. But still, I didn’t really feel like the things that he did for Lola were enough. I think that if he really loved her, he would have been willing to do so much more. One of the themes of this book that I really liked is love requires energy and effort but it should be easy if you’re with the right person. So was it a bit frustrating that it took a while for Lola to figure out that she wasn’t with the right guy? Yes, but everyone makes mistakes and falling for the wrong person is one of the most common out there. Did I want her to break up with Max so Cricket can bring on the swoon for her? Yes, but I think that Lola’s relationship with Max and her confusion about her feelings for Cricket made Lola and the Boy Next Door more realistic. Overall, I still had fun reading this book even though I had issues with it. I recommend this to fans of contemporary YA. I will still be looking forward to Stephanie Perkins’ next novel, I’m hoping I’ll like it just as much as her debut.