Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #91: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #91: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie PerkinsLola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #2
Published by Dutton Juvenile on September 29, 2011
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 338
Format: ARC
Source: Purchased
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four-stars

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.

Recommended by: Technically no one, but a bunch of people told me to read Anna and the French Kiss and one of my goals is to accomplish series. Besides, I bet you guys wanted me try. And, if not? Oh well.

You guys!!!! I am so happy to report that Stephanie Perkins books can totally be Christina books. I thought it was possible, but my Anna experience scared me a whole lot. Plus, Anna and Isla seem pretty universally loved, but Lola and the Boy Next Door seems to be fairly divisive even among her fan base. Oh well, I do love being predictable. Where I found Anna alternately incredibly shippy and enraging, Lola and the Boy Next Door was perfectly adorable and vibrant from page one.

It’s rather funny how much I don’t seem to have the proper reactions to Perkins’ characters. I didn’t get why so many people loved St. Clair and now I don’t get why so many don’t like Lola. Well, okay, I guess I can understand it from an objective perspective. Lola is very…well, LOLA. She’s an individual to a degree that shocks and upsets others, perhaps out of envy or maybe just because they like people to stay in their boxes. You could call Lola twee and not be entirely wrong about that. So I get it. Sort of. Lola would definitely be a hard person for me to take in real life and, more to the point, it would be difficult to find someone like her in real life. That seems to be the thing people really don’t like about Lola and the Boy Next Door. Though I didn’t know anyone like Lola and probably wouldn’t have the energy to be her friend even if I did, I like that people like her exist.

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Looking at Lola from a more positive angle, she embraces who she is. Ever since childhood, she’s been obsessed with fashion and she’s loved to look completely different every day. She wants to design clothing. Most likely she wouldn’t be caught dead in an outfit as boring as the one on the cover (which, okay, I actually love that outfit). Lola wears wigs almost every day, not because there’s something wrong with her own hair, but because she likes to and needs them to complete her ensemble. Lola is indefatigable. Though it’s not central to the novel’s plot line which doesn’t involve going to school, there are subtle hints that she’s been bullied for this (as she obviously would be), but she does her own thing anyway. She’s young and she’s still learning, but she’s way already got a grasp of the important thing, which is embracing who you are. Someone like Lola could easily annoy me, but she’s just so genuine about her fashion and so non-judgmental, aside from a couple of rare occasions, of how other people choose to clothe themselves.

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So yeah, I love Lola. When Lola and the Boy Next Door begins, she’s dating this older guy, Max. He’s 22 her 17. Their relationship’s not viewed favorably by anyone but Lola and Max, really. Her parents (more on them later) allow the relationship, with conditions, because they know that telling teens straight up NOT to do something is only going to make them do it even less safely. Smart parenting, yo. Anyway, it’s obvious from the book title that Max is not the guy. I’d also heard about Max and he’s honestly not as bad as I expected. He’s got a few issues, but he also does seem to care for Lola some in his way. The relationship is doomed from the beginning, but I can see why she didn’t see that. His side is less clear, but it’s also not his book. For Lola, I think a lot of the appeal is that he liked her costumes and her Lolaness.

Sidebar for Lola’s gay dad’s, Andy and Nathan. These guys are completely wonderful, loving, slightly over-protective parents. In a land of YA with missing parents, Andy and Nathan are kings. They love Lola so incredibly much, even though technically they’re her uncle and partner. One of my favorite tropes is a built family and Lola and the Boy Next Door does this so well. Also, though I can’t say I much cared for Norah, Lola’s biological mother and Nathan’s sister, I do think it’s wonderful that Perkins addressed her and that there’s a nice character arc for her as well.

Anna and St. Clair are characters in Lola, since Anna works with Lola at the movie theater. While I can’t say that I’m any more of a fan of their relationship, it was interesting getting to see them from the outside. I think Anna’s narration played down (snerk) just how short St. Clair is. They seem really true to their presentation in Anna, but also slightly different the way they would be when not viewed from Anna’s perspective. In that sense, this is one of the better cameos I’ve seen in a companion novel.

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Sorry, just had to say that to St. Clair one more time bc I’m a heinous bitch.

Also, for all that I hated the treatment of infidelity in Anna and the French Kiss, I love the way it’s handled in Lola and the Boy Next Door. Where St. Clair made excuse after excuse, Lola really doesn’t. She’s constantly thinking about what she should be doing. She knows from the beginning she could have Cricket Bell if she wanted him, but she’s not sure if she wants him or Max. St. Clair knew who he wanted and didn’t want to act in case he ended up alone. I will say that I did enjoy his advice to Lola about making the right choice, and that’s pretty much the only good thing to come out of the romantic drama of Anna. Lola also never allows anyone else to take the blame for her part in things being a mess. That’s just how Lola is and I love it.

Then there’s Cricket Bell. He is the anti-St. Clair in just about every way. He’s really tall (6’4″ not counting the hair), goofy, socially awkward, and, at least at this time, very open with his feelings. Cricket Bell is the best and most reliable friend you’ll ever have. He puts others before himself consistently, which is basically his largest character flaw. As Lola and the Boy Next Door stresses, they really complement one another. Yes, I ship it. Yes, the fact that she hated him for much of the book didn’t hurt my shippitude.

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Why only four stars when I thought everything was fantastic? I know, I know. See, I did love it. But also I just didn’t get the feels the way that I do in my 4.5 and 5 star reads. I never fell into the book and forgot I was reading. I never got vicarious butterflies. For some reason I never got to that I SHIP IT LIKE BURNING place, you know? I do think I would get there on a reread. I suspect I was just so on my guard because I was afraid it would end up making me sad and disappointed in the end like Anna that the feels couldn’t really fully ignite.

Possibly controversial opinion? Lola and the Boy Next Door far outpaces Anna and the French Kiss, and not just because I didn’t like the ship in the first book. It’s more well-rounded, more vibrant, and Cricket Bell is a far superior love interest. Also, anyone else really want a book about Calliope Bell? Because I do.

Favorite Quote:

“Perfect is overrated. Perfect is boring.”

I smile. “You don’t think I’m perfect?”

“No. You’re delightfully screwy, and I wouldn’t have you any other way.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 gif 10 things too good to be true

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3 responses to “Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #91: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins”

  1. Mia Hayson says:

    Wow! Well, first of all can I just say A+ gif utilisation in this post. Like, truly amazing. Gorgeous usage.

    This post was also brilliant independent of gifs! I loved your review and while I don’t necessarily agree on all points (I kind of really like St Clair…) you had me smiling, some might say too much, during the entire read. I also adored Lola as a book. It was refreshing to see parents really integrated into a YA novel. Like, obviously they are not centre stage but I loved the rules they imposed on Lola and their concern for her with Max. And OH CRICKET. There are no words.

    Anyway, yes, super post.

    <3

    <3
    Mia Hayson recently posted…The only serious tip I will ever give youMy Profile

  2. Gillian says:

    EEEEEEEEEE

    ALSO FULL MARKS ON THE GIFFERY

    FLAWLESS GIFFERY
    Gillian recently posted…The Scary Place: The Art of Binging and Total Fictional ObsessionMy Profile

  3. YES PLEASE I’d read a Calliope Bell book all day. Thank god someone else likes Cricket more than St. Claire – I get the appeal for the latter, but Cricket is just CRICKET. All his spindly gloriousness is unmatched <3
    Kayla @ The Thousand Lives recently posted…Review: Dissonance by Erica O’RourkeMy Profile

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