Author: Stephanie Perkins
Published: September 29th, 2011 (Dutton Books)
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: Two 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.
Cover Thoughts: Like Anna and The French Kiss, this cover is similar with the focus on different shades of colors and setting in the background. I love how this is different shades of orange and the Golden Gate bridge in the background.
First Line: I have three simple wishes.
Contains some spoilers
Lola and The Boy Next Door is the companion novel to Anna and The French Kiss. In a nutshell, Lola and The Boy Next Door is the reversal of Anna. In this Perkins novel, the main character, Lola, has a significant other and a guy who likes her. In Anna and The French Kiss, the main character liked the guy with the significant other. I was in love with Anna and excited to read Lola right away. Unfortunately, Lola and The Boy Next Door was very hard for me to get into. It was different from Anna and The French Kiss which I was easily interested in.
I wasn’t interested in the initial plot of Lola’s three wishes. The first being for her and her boyfriend, Max to go to the Winter Formal together as she dressed as Marie Antoinette, the second for her parents to approve of Max and the third for her to never ever see the Bell twins again. As the song goes, you can’t always get what you want. Right away I knew where this story was going.
Similar to Anna and The French Kiss, Lola has a small ensemble of central characters. A nice change in Lola is that there is bit of background information of each of the characters. I enjoyed reading about the different aspects of each character.
There is Lola, your not so typical seventeen year old who enjoys dressing up in eccentric ways and talks to the moon. Lola’s outfits seemed to be a bit less fashion like and more like costumes. There are a couple instances when she and others actually point this out. For someone who is so into dressing up, I would have guessed Lola was into fashion. I think that would have been a nice addition to the story.
Lola has a best friend named Lindsey. Lindsey enjoys solving mysteries. During one part of Lola and The Boy Next Door, Lola blows Lindsey off to hang out with Max after he insulted her. I didn’t like this part of Lola at all. Especially with what Lola said about her. I wish Lindsey would have gotten more page time with Lola. I know they were friends, but Lindsey only seemed to be in the Lola and The Boy Next Door when it was convenient for the plot.
Lola is oblivious to her and Cricket’s own feelings for much of the story. It takes her two hundred pages to finally realize her true feelings. She seemed to dramatize a lot of things that weren’t such a big deal like when Cricket helped her get home from the movie theater after her glasses broke. I did like that Lola was a unique character, albeit a bit young at times. She annoyed me quite a bit throughout the story, whether it was her behavior with Max, her behavior with Cricket or the way she acted towards her birth mother Norah. Lola lied a lot in this novel, to Max, to her parents, to Cricket, to her friends. I didn’t like that at all.
Speaking of Norah, she is Nathan’s sister who got pregnant with Lola when she was a teen. Norah gave Lola to Nathan and Andy. I thought Norah was an interesting character who did have her bad moments. She was homeless a few times, drank quite a bit and did fortunetelling. She ends up moving in with Lola and her parents for a few months. During this time, Lola wasn’t very nice to her, which was understandable at times, but occasionally she went too far. I would have liked to see more of Norah’s relationship with Lola after Norah moved out. Something I did like about Lola and The Boy Next Door is how Lola and Norah’s relationship gets better. I feel Lola’s feelings at times were understandable since she was adopted and her mother wasn’t exactly a saint.
Lola has two gay dads named Nathan and Andy. I really enjoyed Nathan and Andy, I liked a lot of their scenes together. I was bothered by how they pushed Lola and Cricket to hang together on one instance. Throughout Lola and The Boy Next Door, Nathan and Andy make it known that they don’t like Max. This makes sense because he is 22, quite a bit older than Lola, but I wish they would have tried to get along with Max more.
Halfway through Lola and The Boy Next Door, an event happens involving Cricket and Lola, and they hit the roof. All I have to say is this, you can’t win with Max, you can’t win with Cricket. Nathan and Andy are both very over protective of Lola, requiring weekly brunches with her and Max as well as hourly phone check ups when the two are out by themselves. This of course turns off Max who is a 22 singer/songwriter in a band.
Regarding Max, I thought he was a well written character who cared about Lola. I initially liked him in the beginning of the story. Lola and Max seemed like a nice couple although maybe not a perfect fit with their personalities. Lola lied a lot to Max about Cricket, especially that they hung out together. I feel like if Lola was hanging out with Cricket as just friends, there would be no reason to lie to Max. However, because she subconsciously knew there was still something there, she lied. I can understand both Lola and Max’s feelings about the trust issues that were mentioned. Lola had a point when she was thinking about how Max should trust her. She later justified lying by saying Max didn’t trust her, when she proves she shouldn’t be trusted. Max had a nickname for Lola being “Lolita” because of the age difference, at one point Lola asks if the only reason he dates her is because she’s young. I understand her being upset about the nickname, but to actually ask if he’s dating her because she’s young seemed farfetched to me.
Now we come to Cricket, the boy next door. Cricket is an inventor of sorts, always building different contraptions. He suffers from low self esteem due to his figure skating prodigy twin sister, Calliope. Of course after moving back, Cricket still has the same feelings for Lola he always had. Cricket seemed too good to be true at times. He helped Lola even when it hurt him to be around her knowing she’s with Max. He was very attractive which he wasn’t sure of. Cricket was very nice and respectful to Lola’s parents. The only flaws he seemed to have were his low self esteem. He puts aside his own wishes so his sister would succeed in the figure skating world. He got along with Lola’s best friend unlike Max. I thought Cricket was stuck too far in the past. He was pining for Lola throughout much of the story. I found it to be insensitive to be friends with Lola while knowing he had feelings for her. I was incredibly bothered by the fact that Lola and Cricket were both convinced they were friends when clearly there was something more going on there. I hated the way that Lola strung him along while knowing he had feelings for her.
Calliope isn’t seen too much in the story. I did like her character a bit although she was mean at times. I loved the fact that she was a serious figure skater. One of my favorite scenes occurs when Lola’s family watches her on TV skating. I like that Calliope and Lola eventually start to get along with each other again.
One of the highlights was seeing Anna and St. Clare return in Lola and The Boy Next Door. Anna and St. Clare both attend college in California. St. Clare is in a dorms like Cricket so they are already semi acquainted in the book. It was nice seeing Anna and St. Clare as an official couple. This helped me to like them a bit more from the previous novel, Anna and The French Kiss. I did think Anna and St. Clare were a bit too perfect in their relationship. They had their future mapped out, told each other everything and were together regularly. I enjoyed seeing St. Clare give Lola advice on what to do about Cricket and her own feelings.
Lola and the Boy Next Door is basically the gender bender version of Anna and The French Kiss. Rather than having the main character be pursued by someone’s significant other, Lola is the pursuer while being in a relationship. One thing that I absolutely do not like in fiction is the dread love triangle. Except a problem I had with Lola and The Boy Next Door is that it didn’t even seem like a love triangle, because Cricket was made out to be the right choice all along for Lola.
As previously said, I lost a lot of interest when Cricket came into the story. Cricket is the boy next door who moved away from Lola a few years prior. Now Lola’s biggest problem wasn’t trying to get her parents to approve of Max, she also had to battle past feelings between her and Cricket. I knew right where this story was going and if readers have read Lola’s companion novel, they already know this inevitably has the Happily Ever After. They just have to get through off the drama in-between the beginning and the end.
As the book went on though, I felt like Max was written to be more of a jerk to Lola and her best friend, Lindsey. This seemed like a convenient way for readers to give Lola a pass on her borderline cheating behavior with Cricket. I was very annoyed with Lola going back and forth between Cricket and Max. Right away we see Lola reacting to Cricket’s return in a not so thrilled way. We later find out when Cricket moved away, something happen between them. Lola was then upset and hurt about Cricket. I found the reason to not be such a huge deal at all, but rather a misunderstanding. As if it’s not bad enough that Lola and Cricket hung out without Max’s knowledge, they would have nightly conversations on the weekend over their bedroom windows. I just felt Lola should have broken up with Max weeks after Cricket’s return because there was obviously something missing in their relationship. I can understand why Lola didn’t break up with Max though because she wanted their relationship to work.
I wish that there would have been more focus on other aspects in Lola’s life than her relationship drama. I realize this is a Young Adult Romance novel, but it would have been nice to see Lola be okay with not seeing Max or Cricket so often. It would have been realistic since not all couples are together all the time. It would have been nice to explore Lola and Lindsey’s friendship.
At the end of Lola and The Boy Next Door, I had warmed up to Lola and Cricket. I found several of their scenes to be really sweet. They really did seem good together. I was more open to the prospect of Lola and Cricket getting together.
Maybe I went into Lola and The Boy Next Door with my expectations too high. Maybe I was expecting an Anna and The French Kiss second coming. Maybe I’m just over relationship drama in novels.
Lola and The Boy Next Door was very difficult for me to finish. It took several days for me to even read more than a few pages without getting annoyed with Lola and Cricket. I didn’t care about Lola, I wasn’t crazy about her costumes, I didn’t like her lying or her being so oblivious. I hated her disregard for Max’s feelings when she would hang out with Cricket. I was over Lola’s deciding what to do regarding Cricket and Max fast.
Cricket seemed too perfect, too selfless, and too nice. Max was originally a nice character who later changed it seem, only so Lola would break up with him without anyone feeling bad for him. Calliope was the typical over protective sister who didn’t want her brother getting hurt.
While I may not have been crazy about Lola’s outfits, I did love reading about them. Cricket was a sweet character. I thought Lola talking to the moon was cool since I love the moon.
Stephanie Perkins words flow effortlessly. This is well written, I enjoyed the descriptions of everything. On the down side, we don’t see as much of the San Francisco setting whereas in Anna and The French Kiss, Paris felt like it’s own character in a way. I related more to Anna than I did to Lola which kind of ruined the experience for me.
I do think some readers of Young Adult Contemporary Romance would like this story as it is a very light read. I thought there were too many flaws from the characters to the plot that I can only rate it two stars.