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.
Last year the entire blogosphere, myself included, flipped out over the awesomeness that is Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. As soon as ARCs of Lola and the Boy Next Door became available, I was desperate to get my hands on one, and Shanyn of Chick Loves Lit was kind enough to loan me hers. While I knew it would be an enjoyable read, I’m not sure if I expected a story quite as quirky and beautiful as this one. I didn’t get into Lola and the Boy Next Door right away, it ultimately swept me away with its humor, sweetness and honesty.
Lola and the Boy Next Door is very different from Anna and the French Kiss in terms of the characters and setting. I have to admit that I didn’t love Lola as a character right away. She was impulsive, and sometimes her bad decisions frustrated me, but later I realized it made me empathize with her. If you think Perkins’s novels are all fluff, let me reassure you now that this is not the case. While she perfectly captures the anxieties and thrills of falling in love, her characters also experience real pain.
Cricket is yet another fantastic love interest. He’s incredibly quirky and lovable, and made me “awww” at oh so many points. In addition to these quirks, however, Cricket was also imperfect, and that was probably my favorite thing about him.
Of course, one of the things I loved most about Lola and the Boy Next Door was Lola’s fathers. It was nice to see two gay men living together and raising a child treated as entirely normal, because that’s what it is. Every interaction Lola had with them struck a different emotional chord in me.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Anna and Etienne cameos that are peppered into this story. Each of these characters and their relationship with each other was incorporated perfectly into Lola and the Boy Next Door. They were there just enough to add a bit of comic relief or insight to the story, but not so much that their presence felt forced.
Every time I look back on my experience reading Lola and the Boy Next Door, I can’t help but think of how lovely and wonderful it was. Stephanie Perkins has done it again. Lola and the Boy Next Door is a great novel all on its own, and Perkins has created a moving story. I highly suggest moving both of Perkins’s novels to the top of your to be read pile.
Disclosure: I borrowed an ARC of this book from a friend.