Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (thoughts)
From the author’s 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.
Last February I read Anna and the French Kiss and I delayed finishing it so that I could read the last bit on Valentine’s Day. And it was perfect Valentine’s read. So perfect, in fact, that I read it a second time before the year was done. So, when I found Lola and the Boy Next Door at a book store in January, I knew I’d have to snatch it up and read it for Valentine’s Day 2012. To say that I had high expectations for Lola would be a bit of an understatement. I had heard from some that it wasn’t as good as Anna, while others liked it even more than the first. Either way, I went in to it a bit wary, but I was still expecting a book full of warm tingles and first loves, and Lola delivered on that front.
However, there was also a bunch of cringe worth angst and bad decisions. And we have the character Lola to thank for that. Of course, it was impossible to read this and not compare it to Anna and the French Kiss, and Lola was definitely an edgier character than Anna was. She’d had to deal with some pretty rotten things growing up, which added a lot of fuel to her angst. But on the flip side, I loved loved loved her relationship with her parents. While she rebelled against their protectiveness, she obviously loved them to bits. (Also, I can’t be the only one who pictured them as Cam & Mitchell.)
And then there’s Cricket. I feel like I need to restrain my swooning over a [fictional] character 10 years my junior, but oh dear me, Cricket. I would read this book again solely for Cricket. I don’t want to say more about him, because I think you need to experience him for yourself, but… sigh. I do have to say, though, that the constant mention of his coloured rubber bracelets gnawed at me. I could have done without those being mentioned every single time Lola saw him. Or thought of him.
When I heard that Lola was a companion novel to Anna, I couldn’t figure out where Lola fit in with Anna & St. Clair’s story. But it turns out they fit in with Lola’s story. I cheered when they first showed up in Lola – and every time after that. It was like being reunited with old friends and I loved finally seeing them together as an official couple.
By now it’s obviously really liked Lola and the Boy Next Door, but I didn’t love it as much as I did Anna and the French Kiss. It was a really great, cute book, but it didn’t seem to have that spark that Anna did, and again I think this came down to the main characters. Anna was a character I could connect with more, and I loved her and her budding relationship with St. Clair. And while I loved Cricket (the swoon-worthy moments he created), the descriptions of San Francisco, and Lola’s parents, I only liked Lola. And I know you don’t necessarily need to like a character to enjoy a story and blah blah blah, but I think with books like this, liking and rooting for the main character is an important part of the whole story. You should want her to get together with that guy that’s perfect for her. But I found that I was hoping Lola would get herself figured out so that everything would work out for Cricket. I guess either way I wanted them to get together in the end.
So. If you liked Anna and the French Kiss, or like cute, romantic stories in general, I highly recommend reading this one.
For now, I’m just hoping that Isla and the Happily Ever After comes out before Valentine’s Day 2013!
My rating: 8/10