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Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door

Lola and the Boy Next Door
by Stephanie Perkins

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Release Date: September 29, 2011
Publisher: Dutton
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: purchased/Own
Rating: Special Shelf
Good for 2nds Challenge
About the Book:

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 have three simple wishes. They're really not too much to ask...

Besides waiting until I could collect my thoughts and put them down into coherent, readable sentences, I used this month as a sort of test. As much as I love Stephanie Perkins, I had to wonder about what made her books so special? While I waited in this month to write this review, and pushed all the squealing back in, I thought about this. And you want to know what I came up with? I. Don't. Know.

And when you fall in love, sometimes it's just better to be surprised and not understand, because otherwise it gets hard to feel THE MAGIC of it. I can't deny that Perkins's books are magic, of the purest, truest, most addictive form, which can't be conjured or crafted in any spell, but one that springs solely from the heart.

I give you, 6.5 reasons why I heart Lola and the Boy Next Door:

1) The Side Characters

One thing you have to remember when picking up a Stephanie Perkins novel: every single character counts. No one ever falls into the backdrop. Even Lola's best friend's father, while not a major character at all, produced a smile from me upon our first meeting. And I don't even know the guy.

Perkins has a way of writing characters that are living proof of the Onion Effect. You peel back one layer and you find so much more than what you see on the surface. Whether that surface is pristine or tattered is entirely irrelevant. It's guaranteed that you'll find depth in these characters AND LIKE THEM FOR IT, even when you should hate them.

This is something I can count on every time I encounter a new character. And I loved this about Lola, and even Anna! And how Lola interacts with these characters of many shapes and sizes seizes your affection for this book and Co. From her quiet, investigative-by-nature best friend, Lindsey, to her lovable pair of dads, Lola's friends and family take the cake as far as best characterizations. You WILL be envious of the people she is fortunate enough to have in her life.

1.5) Surprise Guest Stars

Or should I say not so surprising? There's been huge talk about Anna and Etienne's planned appearance in Lola. And while I was excited for that, I didn't expect to see SO MUCH of them! And I'm so happy that Perkins was intuitive to know that fans would so appreciate their huge roles in Lola and Cricket's love story.

And somehow, it was better to read them under these circumstances, through another set of eyes. They seem THAT much cooler. And the romance that sparked the love for Perkins to begin with, IS STILL very much there only threefold. I gushed with pleasure every time I got a glimpse of their superspecialawwww moments!

2) Lola

Honestly, I didn't know what to expect from Lola the character. It was easy to develop a sketch of her in my imagination, and her kind of character already seemed likeable. But, I didn't expect her to be so... so... realistic in spite of her eccentricites. For a girl who's out-there, she's very real; a girl who makes silly decisions, has insecurities (the read-between-the-lines kind), and quirky aspirations. 

And the best part? She IS NOTHING LIKE ANNA. So many authors who write companion novel series fall into that trap of telling the same story with different characters and vice versa. I wanted Perkins to break that mold, and she delivered. Lola is original, her own person, and while compatible with Anna, she retains this awesomeness that's completely unique to her character.

3) Cricket

Cricket Bell is no St. Clair, and I applaud Perkins for her ability to create TWO such heart-melting, swoon-worthy guys. Two boys who make you sigh wistfully for two totally differently reasons.

St. Clair is the Superfly Artsy European Mutt dude who makes every passerby fawn over him with his heartstopping good looks. Cricket would make me stop in my tracks and stare for a completely different reason: he's odd in his own right. He has crazy inventor hair, habitually wears rubber bands on his wrists and pinstripe pants, and is charming and sweet. The fact that I still REMEMBER all of that a month after reading this book speaks volumes.

4) Family Matters

The family dynamic is obviously different from the typical mom-dad scenario, being that Lola has two fathers, but toss out any misconceptions you may have had about being raised by gay parents. Because Nathan and Andy prove THAT YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT. :P

If there was an award for favorite fictional parents, Nathan and Andy would get top scores. They'd beat out everyone (except maybe Mia's parents from If I Stay).

5) *sings* I love the way you love...

The last thing I want to do is give anything away about the romance (especially). It's so important that you read it and feel the SLOW BURN that is part of Perkins's style thus far. It's agonizing, full of hard choices, but ultimately it left me in a WOWed state, in which I took the time to bow down to the amazingness that is Stephanie Perkins. I promise, you will not be disappointed Anna fans!

6) What I've come to call the Stephanie Perkins Flair

The pacing, the writing, Stephanie Perkins knows how to weave a tale. Her writing is friendly and fun and inviting. Insightful. And at times poetic-like. There's a warmth and allure to her books that can easily be described as incomparable in the face of so many YA books out right now. If you've been skeptical up until now, don't be! You will not regret reading this series!

A misconception that could perhaps cost you a limb...

This a companion novel, friends. You do not need to read Anna (although I advise that you do, so that you can appreciate Anna and St. Clair's presence more) in order to read and love Lola. So, if in fact you encounter this book in your travels before Anna, do not hesitate to read it. It's a win either way, whichever way you do it.

Thought up by the lovely Small Review, Special Shelf books are unforgettable books that make you emote in extraordinary ways, hold beautiful stories inside and characters you will forever be in love with... (My Rating System In-Depth )

"Chinese pajamas to the Japanese Tea Garden," [Nathan] continues, gesturing at my red silk bottoms. "What will people think?"
I don't believe in fashion. I believe in costume. Life is too short to be the same person every day. I roll my eyes to show Ma that I realize my parents are acting lame.
"Our little drag queen," Andy says (7)

He's the other thing I like about Anna. Wherever she goes, he follows.
He nods toward the baby wipe. "What else are you carrying in your pockets? Dust rags? Furniture polish?"
"Watch it," she says. "Or I'll scrub your arms, Etienne."
He grins. "As long as you do it in private." (26)

"Cricket, you're... tall."
Which is, quite possibly, the stupidest thing I could say to him...
"It's the hair," he says with a straight face. "Gravity has always been my nemesis."(36)


Leanna (Daisy Chain Book Reviews) said...

I love your review of this one, and the mention of the special guest stars!!

I'm starting on LOLA tonight. Can't wait!!

A. Knight said...

Thank you<3 and I couldn't NOT mention Anna and Etienne even if this is Lola's story.

Oh, great!! I can't wait to hear what your thoughts on it are.

Ariana said...

I totally love Stephanie Perkins as well. You did such a good job of explaining just what I like about her writing!

Liz. R said...

I've had this on my tbr for weeks! I want to read it this very second, but I have other books to get through before I can. Ahh, it just looks so good! Lola and Cricket both sound awesome, and I love how they're different to Anna and St. Clair (who are also amazing characters). Love your review, and so glad you enjoyed it! Can't wait to start this :).

Sarah (saz101) said...

I've seen this in a few places now, and I really like the cover. It looks so suburban and white-bread, I just scanned it over, before double taking and crushing on her purple hair. So cute :D

Samual @ Books For All Seasons said...

I've not read Anna and the French Kiss. I will need to soon. Great review!! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful, detailed review on Lola and the Boy Next Door!

Thank you for stopping by and commenting on my blog!

See you around!


A. Knight said...

Ariana- Aw, thank you so much. She is fabulous, isn't she? I hope she writes forever :D

Liz- Oh, you have to hurry up and read it! You're going to love it. I actually can't wait to talk to you about it(:

Sarah- If you like her purple (PURPLE! fan over here) hair, then you're going to love all the other colors(;

Sam- Hey, Sam, it's no trouble. And I'm glad you saw this review, so now you have no excuse to miss out on the awesomeness of ANNA and LOLA :DD

Tiger Holland said...

Awesome in-depth review! I like how you really broke down the individual elemts that were working for you. I haven't read LOLA but I enjoyed ANNA, and part of why I liked it was that slow burn you describe. :-) This is one author who knows how to engage a reader's emotions.

On a kpop note, I'm much more into JYJ, too. Who could fail to love "Ayyy Girl"? TVX2 is good, but they don't have Jaejoong any more. :-)

A. Knight said...

Tiger- I don't think Perkins could ever fail in my eyes. She's made an eternal fan out of me. Much like DBSK, but unfortunately I go where Jae goes, you know. The other two feel so stiff right now...:(

The Lovely Getaway said...

I've had this on my shelf for weeks now. I guess I've just been afraid that it won't live up to Anna.... maybe I should work justice and give it a try. Your review certainly motivated me too :D

A. Knight said...

Diana- Please don't miss out on this! It's a beautiful, heartwarming story and just as well-written, cute, and funny as Anna. Let me know what you think of it, if you get the chance.

Taneika said...

Hey! Thanks for stopping by my blog :)
I really love your blog and I also can't wait to read Anna and the French Kiss (bit late, I know!) and Lola sounds fantastic too :)
Great review!

A. Knight said...

Taneika- You're welcome, I'm always happy to visit new ones(;

Thank you<3. If you like contemporary romance with sweet characters and warm writing, then you're going to love this series!