Thursday, December 29, 2011

Quirky in Love • Lola and the Boy Next Door

Lola and the Boy Next Door book cover
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton Books
Publication Date: September 29, 2011
Source/Format: Heather (Thanks!) || Hardcover

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'm at the verge of just writing one sentence to sum up my entire review. Seriously. And that one sentence is: Lola and the Boy Next Door is AMAZING and you MUST read it.

I honestly thought nothing could be as good as Anna and the French Kiss, the first novel by Stephanie Perkins. That was a book that one of my best friends discovered on accident, recommended to me and I ended up falling in love with the darn thing. I worried so much coming into reading Lola that I would constantly be comparing it to Anna and finding it lacking. It turns out my worries were unfounded - Lola was every bit as wonderful as Anna was (possibly even more)!

I really feel like nothing I say about this book will be adequate enough to express how much I loved it! I keep trying to find the words, but it's hard when a book has affected you (in the best way possible) so much. So suffice it to say, I think you should go and read the book.

If you do want to read a little more about what I thought, you can go ahead and read the rest of this review.

The Characters

I loved getting to know Lola Nolan. She's one wonderful character! Lola is smart, funny, whimsical and insanely creative. It was always a big part of the story for me to find out what outfit she'd imagine up next, or what she'd say or do in any given situation. I thought she was very brave for embracing her individuality and not letting anyone bully her into being someone different. And she definitely sounds like someone I'd be friends with (and I'd probably end up begging her to make me costumes too!).

I also like the fact that she's in no way perfect. She makes some really bad decisions/choices in the book, but the fact that she learned from her mistakes or realized what the right thing to do was redeemed her in my eyes. After all, none of us are perfect anyway!

Her family life adds an interesting angle to the story - she's raised by two dads. I thought it was a great touch for the author to add, as it's something that's different from the norm. It's great to see how involved her dads like to be in her life, and how she, in turn, acknowledges, respects and pretty much values their opinion. I liked seeing a family that was very close-knit, which I don't actually see a lot of in YA books. In fact, things are great between Lola and her dads - except when it comes to her boyfriend Max, who's older and in a rock band (and now you see why they had their misgivings).

Now, let's talk about Cricket Bell. Who's he? Why, he's the boy next door literally. He and the rest of his family live in the house next to Lola's and his bedroom window is right across from hers. Lola shares a history with him, since they've known each other since she was a little girl - and obviously, as the title suggests, there are some feelings involved. The Bells moved away back in the day and have returned only recently, sparking emotions that Lola thought were long gone.

Cricket Bell is adorable. And smart (and I mean, really smart). And polite. And dedicated to his family, especially his twin Calliope. And creative, in his own way. The things he says to Lola and the stuff he does for her just had my heart constantly fluttering. He's definitely the perfect complement to Lola, allowing her to sparkle and even encouraging it! It was easy to fall in love with him, and to want to root for him and Lola to be together in the end!

I can't move on to talking about the story without mentioning the amazing secondary characters. There are Lola's two dads, as I mentioned earlier, Andy and Nathan, who are really great father figures to Lola in the book. Then there's Lola's best friend Lindsey, who has a penchant for Nancy Drew and solving mysteries (which is AWESOME, by the way). We also have Max (Lola's boyfriend, who was charming in his own way) and Calliope (Cricket's twin sister, who's a champion figure skater and pretty much the star of the Bell family).

And we cannot forget how amazing it is that Stephanie Perkins managed to write Anna and Etienne into the story! I literally squealed with joy when I read their first appearance - and I love how they sort of play a role for the whole book. While Anna seems to be the same as in Anna and the French Kiss, Etienne seemed slightly different. This, of course, didn't change my opinion of their appearance at all because I happen to love them!

The Story

I really loved the story of Lola and the Boy Next Door. There's so much chemistry between the couple in question, that it's hard to avoid sighing or squealing or rooting for them. This, of course, was one of the best parts of the entire book - all these moments filled with romance and romantic tension, sweet words and emotionally charged passages. The best love stories, in my humble opinion, are the ones that I feel everything right alongside the characters; this is definitely one of them! It took time for them to rebuild their relationship, but I found that I loved the pace of everything in lieu of their history.

It was also a bonus that there were a lot of awesome, positive messages tossed into the book. Like, you should always be proud of who you are and not try to change for anyone else. Or how you should acknowledge the people who love and support you and treat them right. Or how different may not necessarily mean bad. Or how we might judge people based on their pasts, but for all we know, they've changed and we should give them a chance.

In conclusion...

Just go and buy the book already! If you're a fan of contemporary YA, like love stories and quirky characters, or loved Anna and the French Kiss, you really need to read this one. I'm sure you'll fall in love with it, just as much as I have <3

13 comments:

  1. Yay, I'm glad! I really hope you enjoy it as much as I did :)

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  2. I am dancing in my bed right now over this review! I love that you LOVED it! I, too, was extremely worried that it would not live up to Anna. I adored Anna, and I figured nothing would be good enough to compare it too. Lola was ADORABLE! So wonderful that I had to own it in print. Everyone should read it. I loved all her quirky outfits. Super fun. And... I want a Cricket in my life. I need to get a cat and name it Cricket. Seriously. Ooooo! My thoughts are so unorganized as I comment on this post. Haha. Just know that I totally agree with you! Isla... I think I need to go pre-order it right now. RIGHT NOW. Stephanie better never quit writing. Ever. :)

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  3. I love you Katelyn <3 So glad you could relate to the review!

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  4. I totally wanted to pre-order Isla too! But then I found out that it was going to be released in 2013. Though I'm sure that makes for a more awesome book, it also makes me sad that I have to wait so long! Haha.

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  5. I don't think I have ever smiled so much while reading a review. Seriously ALEXA!!! It is things like this that remind me how awesome you are. You managed to write every single feeling I had about this book into the best way possible. And the way you worded things, it was magical! Do us all a favor and keep being awesome :)

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  6. Wow what a great thorough review! I have this one still sitting unread on my shelf! Aaaack! But I loved Anna so I know I'll enjoy this one as well but you made me bump it up my TBR list! :)

    Giselle
    Xpresso Reads

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  7. YOU MUST! I really loved it as much as I loved Anna, especially because there's another unique and squeal-worthy story contained within. Haha, I tried not to gush too much, but I really couldn't help myself.

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  8. I read Anna & the French Kiss as an eBook, but I just knew that I was going to have to get a print copy. I love both Anna & Lola and they're definitely worth a reread every now and then.

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  9. I bet we're all going to fall in love with whoever the leading man in Isla and the Happily Ever After is and have problems trying to decide which of the three is the best.

    I'm going to stick to the "I love them all" answer.

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  10. I want to SQUEE all over this review because I agree with it completely. I wouldn't be able to choose between ANNA or LOLA, but I bow down to the perfect concoction that Steph Perkins has created in each book. So, so good. I'll take both Cricket and St. Clair, please!

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  11. This book is just SOOO good! I loved it so much! It's definitely on my list for books to own in print - I have read both of Stephanie's books on my kindle and need physical copies so I can loan them out as soon as a friend says they haven't read them! :)

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  12. I am so getting this book ASAP!! I read Anna on Christmas day and fell in love with the book and all the characters and Perkins' writing!! I had heard some mixed reports about Lola, but I'm glad to see you enjoyed it just as much as Anna :) And I love that it has a tight family! You're right, that is so rare in YA! And I love cute contemporary romances! Thanks for the wonderful, gushy review :)

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Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)

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