Release Date: September 29, 2011
Published by: Dutton
Lola and the Boy Next Door by 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.
1. (+) Lola, the protagonist - Admittedly, I liked Lola less than I liked Anna, but I don't think it's fair to compare the books just because they have such different characters, and since Perkins's stories are so clearly character driven, it makes for a completely different story. (I think the reason why it was harder for me to identify with her over Anna is because Lola's quirk is her fashion taste and I've never really cared that much about fashion whereas Anna's quirk was her OCDness, with which I definitely can identify.) Anyways, Lola is quirky, smart, fashionable, talented and dedicated to designing things... and also way more mature than I was at her age.
2. (+) THE BOY, CRICKET - lovelovelovelovelove! This boy is a personification of my type of guy ;p. Nice, nerdy, brilliant, thoughtful, has that sort of inner passion which drives me crazy. I think Lola describes it by talking about how he really uses his body, how he directs every part of himself to whatever he's paying attention to...ahh, and writing on his hands and his emotions written all over his face and his integrity--getting upset over his family name! Cricket, why don't you actually exist? (See, I stopped minding that his name was actually Cricket because this boy is that awesome.)
3. (+) Her parents - I don't usually fuss over the role of parents in YA books, but I do appreciate it when it's portrayed well, and Lola's two dads and her homeless birth mother cut such an interesting family perspective. I liked the overprotective (but not too overprotective; my parents wouldn't have even let me date a guy like Max) behavior from her parents and the way Lola interacts with them. There's a lot of respect there and for them to include her birth mother and to see how Lola's relationship with her also grows made me like their family dynamic a lot.
4. (+) Cameos by Anna & St. Clair - SO ADORABLE. Their relationship sets a standard for Lola and who she chooses to be with, but just seeing them from someone's eyes made me feel all giddy inside yet again. (Also, I love how Perkins set the stage for all of them to have cameos in Isla, her third book. So looking forward to that!)
5. (+) The Writing - so much more lyrical and romantic than in Anna, but it fits, given who Lola is as compared to Anna. In general, though, Stephanie Perkins does such a good job with her dialogue and creating characters who are so... alive. Also so quirky and fun to hang out with & experience their lives.
6. (--) The Pacing - At the same time... ah, this is just my problem with contemporary stories in general. I feel like there are so many pages filled with the protagonist's thoughts when I'm just like, "hurry up! Get to the scene with them actually there!" I mean, yes, Lola and the Boy Next Door has good character development, but sometimes I did wish it were shorter.
7. (+) San Francisco - Admittedly, it wasn't as huge a part of the story as I thought it would be after reading other people's reviews, but it's still important and is still integral to the story (the Berkeley aspect & the cameos, the music festival/scene, the homeless surrounding the city, the transportation, etc.). It was described really well.
8. (+) Little Focus on High School - The pacing was DEFINITELY helped by the very few mentions of high school (it would've been unnecessary had there been more). It wasn't like in Anna and how the two of them went to the same school so their assignments could be discussed and I liked that. I liked that Lola had this other life on the side and that it wasn't the tortured romance at school, time spent during class staring at the boy's back, etc.
9. (+) Random - This is a random category of little things I liked... like how the people who weren't so nice still felt real; they weren't really villains, but if you wanted to consider them that way, they were complex villains with believable ulterior motives ;p.... also liked the last line!!! LOVED it actually. I would post it here, but I'm not going to ruin it for the rest of you :D.... also LOVED the history Lola had not only with Cricket but with her birth mother. I'd list more but really there is no end to how awesome this book and Stephanie Perkins's writing are.
10. (--) The Cover - I have a couple of issues with this. I do like Cricket's outfit and the star on his hand and the rubber bands--those work. But Lola's outfit doesn't look as ... outrageous as I'd expect. The houses in the background are kind of cool, but they look so painted and fake. Also, the sky? Why didn't they do it like a nighttime cover? The book mentions the moon and the stars a lot so it would've made more sense to do that in my opinion at least.
I loved Lola and the Boy Next Door so, so much. Pretty much, I'll now read anything Stephanie Perkins writes. She has completely won me over.