Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door

LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR
Stephanie Perkins
Contemporary Young Adult
338 pages
Dutton/Penguin
Available Now
Source: Bought

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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.


MY THOUGHTS
Cute, quirky, and ripe with romantic tension, Lola and the Boy Next Door shows us yet again how capable Ms. Perkins is at writing relationships that have us pinging back and forth on the emotional spectrum, laughing one minute and then finding our hearts plummeting vicariously the next. While reading we can’t help but surreptitiously glance out our windows in slightly obsessive fashion, hoping that by some fortuitous circumstance a beautifully perfect-for-us boy has spontaneously relocated next door and he’s just now waiting for us to look up again to begin our dopey grin-inspiring romance. Like Anna and St. Clair before them, Lola and Cricket are characters we get a 360 degree picture of despite the flatness of the pages on which they exist, and we revel in their laughter and their drama as we treasure their story for days and weeks after reading.

Lola is funky and unique, living her life in costumes that allow her to express her exuberance and personality while also helping to hide some of the pain and embarrassment caused by her birth mother’s unfortunate life choices. She’s not quite as adorably endearing as Anna, perhaps due to the fact that in this tale it is she who is juggling the progression of one relationship with the desire to explore a completely different one, and so her inner conflict often leads her to some poor decisions that hurt those around her. While her flaws are of course realistic and certainly forgivable, our desire to see her with Cricket is just so strong that every time she defaults to Max our heart gives an extra little throb of pain.

Cricket is sweet and charming in an understated way, his charisma not quite radiating from the pages as St. Clair’s did, but his more quiet desire to remedy the misunderstandings of his shared past with Lola is equally appealing. It’s both painful and amusing to watch the two of them communicate using everything but the words they most need to say as well as hear in return from the other, a feeling we can all relate to at some point or another in our own lives. The crackling tension resulting from all that’s left unaddressed is seductively tortuous, wrapping around us tightly until our muscles object to the rigidity of our posture, yet we can’t bring ourselves to let up for a moment until we reach the end of Lola and Cricket’s story.

Though overall a touch less delectable than Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door does beautifully give us something Anna didn’t—the incorporation of Lola and Cricket’s families. Lola’s dads are hugely involved in her life and are a pleasure to read about, their family conflicts providing believable drama and causing our view of everyone as a whole to rotate those last few degrees and bring us full circle. Ms. Perkins has a gift for writing wistfully romantic stories that still manage to be grounded in reality, sating our need for sweetness while keeping us from going into sugar shock with the perfect amount of angst and emotional turmoil. The wait for her next book will no doubt test the limits of our patience, but we can take comfort in knowing our time spent counting the days will be well worth it.

Rating: 4/5

36 comments:

  1. I loved this book SO MUCH. And you're right--the incorporation of the main characters' families really helped give LOLA that extra depth. Thanks for the review, Jenny! :)

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  2. YAY JENNY! I'm so glad you loved this book!! :) Even though I have to agree that I loved Anna just a bit better (because it was pure MAGIC and there was St. Clair in Paris -- my dream city!!), I adored Lola too! And Cricket? He's the kind of boy I want to meet at school and become best friends with, just so we can fall in love! SUCH A SWEETHEART! :) ♥

    Awesome review, Jenny! I know -- Stephanie Perkins is a genius with words! Isla feels like it's forever away!

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  3. I really want to read this book! I haven't read Anna & The French Kiss either, but I've heard so much about both of them.

    ~Ailsa

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  4. This sounds like a book I would like.

    My daughter just read the first one Anna and the French Kiss and she loved it. Is all Ive heard is Paris this and Paris that, Im even getting her Paris stuff to put in her room for Christmas...:)So Ill have to buy her this one too and then of course Ill borrow it so I can read it too.

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  5. I love these books as gifts! They are so sweet and fun---perfect for teen gals that I have no idea what to get them!

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  6. I thought LOLA was cute but in no way as magical as ANNA. I guess I didn't connect with the characters in this one like I did in the first book. Cricket didn't really make a huge impression on me...not like St.Clair did!

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  7. I liked this book a lot. Cricket and Lola are fun characters, but I still like Anna and the French Kiss much better.

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  8. I thought this book looked great. It's all over the blogs I follow so it must be a sign of what I should be reading. :)

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  9. Lauren - I loved both of their families, they definitely added a whole extra layer:)

    Mimi - I did like Anna just a bit better, but I think most of had to do with the fact that Lola was the one juggling relationships in this one whereas it was St. Clair before so we weren't quite as upfront and personal with his struggle. Still adored this one though:)

    Alisa - I hope you give them a try! They're such fun reads, she writes amazing characters:)

    Tina - I think you would like it as well! Did you read Anna too or just your daughter?

    Felicia - Absolutely! I would highly recommend both books to anyone and everyone:)

    Leanna - Not as magical for me either, but I still love the way she writes tension-filled relationships. I live for tension and she does it really well:)

    Chel - We all seem to be feeling that way today:) I can't help but wonder if we'd feel any different if this book had come first and Anna second?

    Jordan - Have you read Anna? That's one of my all time favorites, but I really enjoyed this one as well:)

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  10. Is it possible to love someone without meeting them? Because I'm already in love with Cricket the more I read about him. Can't wait to read this one!

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  11. I loved this book. Not as much as Anna, but I still love it. I think Lola has more personality than Anna, but I spent so much time wanting to slap her b/c of her boyfriend that that took away from her. I don't like Cricket as much as Etienne, but I love that he's a "boy." It's so nice to see someone who isn't just handsome and charming. I love the awkwardness and sweetness.

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  12. I haven't read A&theFK yet, and I want to before I get to this one, but I can tell you I'm already in love with Cricket. He's a popular choice for MBB, so I feel like I already know all about him.

    I think I'm most looking forward to checking out the family dynamics. I'm glad to hear the parents are involved and an enjoyable part of the story. When I met Ms. Perkins, she talked about how important that was to her. She also shared that SF is where her husband courted her, and it was just too adorable! I must get to these soon.

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  13. i agree. it wasn't as good as anna and the french kiss but it was still REALLY good. i'm a stephanie perkins fan for life--she can write an excellent YA contemp that i favor.

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  14. Rummanah - I was pretty much in love with Cricket from the moment I read the blurb, so my answer is yes:)

    Alison - I did want to throttle her a few times, but only because I loved Cricket so much and their lack of communication was giving me an ulcer:) Loved it!

    Missie - Oh I hope you get to read Anna sometime, it's fabulous:) That's so cute that SF is so important to her and her husband, I love little tidbits like that:)

    chelley - I'm a Stephanie fan for life as well:) Anything she writes, I will be reading!

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  15. Sounds really good. Like a must read. Great review.

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  16. I really need to read this book and the previous one. And OMG, this cover is so fun. I just love it.

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  17. I've heard how awesome these books are for the last time! I'm buying them right now!!!

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  18. Juju - It is a must read for sure:)

    Nina - Yes you do! Anna is my favorite but this one is really wonderful as well:)

    Ashley - Get on it woman! There are cute boys to fall in love with just waiting for you to find them:)

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  19. Great review, Jenny! I liked Lola too, but not as much as Anna. I thought it was a cute story though and loved the whole next door neighbors aspect. Lola is such a fun character and her dads are pretty great too. I'm glad you liked this one.

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  20. Jenny- I have not read it yet...I bought it when it first came out and its been sitting on my bookcase all shiny and tempting but the kiddo got to it before me, that usually doesn't happen. Im so glad she loves that I read her YA books...she gets happy because we can chat about them...:D

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  21. AWW, I am so happy you read this book! I so need to get to it soon.

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  22. I still have yet to read anything by Perkins. I heard such awesome things about Anna and the French Kiss a few months ago, and I own a copy, but I seem to always choose another book over it. I'll get around to reading it...eventually!

    Glad to hear that this one is worth reading too!

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  23. I still need to read Anna and the French Kiss. Now, of course I want this one too. They both sound so cute. Plus, can you not love that hair?? :)

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  24. I swear, you write your reviews so beautifully. You can tell you really loved this book, but it came out sounding poetic-like. LOVE. And I think you expressed more or less everything I felt for this book. Though I think it was a close call for me between the two books. For me it's basically a tie.

    - Asher (from Paranormal Indulgence)

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  25. Oh I totally agree with you! Really liked this one, but didn't quite love it as much as 'Anna'. Still really good, though, and Cricket was tres adorable.

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  26. Great review. You summed up so many of my feelings on this one. I hope that the next one (Ilsa) will be even better.

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  27. I still have to read "Anna...." but the more reviews I read the more I realize I truly need to read them!

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  28. I love this book! (As well as Anna &TFK!) Stephanie Perkins definitely does have a wonderful way with words. :) I'm dying for the next book!

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  29. It looks so very sweet :) I really need to read some YA...normal YA (since I am reading a YA at the moment ;)

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  30. I only skimmed your review since I haven't read ANNA or LOLA yet...I know, I know I will soon promise since I'm a sucker for a good YA romance :)

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  31. While I did really enjoy reading Lola and the Boy Next Door, I still loved Anna and the French Kiss more. I really liked how Lola and Cricket had fun/cool senses of style, but I was hoping they would realize how right they were for each other sooner! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Jenny! :)

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  32. Hi--just me again, catching up on my commenting! And, as usual, your review is spot on. Not as awesome as ANNA but up near the top as the best in YA romance, LOLA was such a fun read. I loved Lola's dads and the family aspect. Plus, it was nice to see friends from ANNA in LOLA (love when authors "cross over" their characters)

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  33. I still haven't read this one but really need to. The romance between Anna and St.Clair was so cute and I'm happy that the relationship in this one is just as well-developed. I'm really curious to see how Perkins incorporates Lola's and Cricket's families into the story.

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  34. Sorry you didn't like this as much as Anna... I *think* I did (but then again it has been ages since I read Anna). And I loved Lola's dads as well! They added such a nice touch to the book!

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  35. I loved this book so much. I think I had a bigger love for Cricket than Entienne because of his lower charisma. It was his nerdy like personality that I loved so much. Not that I don't adore Entienne, but Cricket holds my heart. LOL! Well, the mid-thirties Cricket does. :D

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  36. I read Anna and The French Kiss? And I got blown away. Then, I bought Lola and The Boy Next Door but I got bored in the middle so I stopped reading it. But, I might givi it a try again. Thankyou for the review! ๐Ÿ˜

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