July 30, 2014

REVIEW: Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss #2)

Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss #2), by Stephanie Perkins
Published September 29, 2011
Publisher: Dutton Books
Format: paperback, gifted
Genre: young adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4 STARS

(From Goodreads) 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.

It was past time for me to get caught up on this series. I had read Anna and the French Kiss months ago, and just hadn't gotten around to reading Lola and the Boy Next Door. With Isla and the Happily Ever After set to come out in only two weeks, I decided it was time. 

Lola is dating Alex and trying to forget her next door neighbor Cricket who left town two years earlier after hurting her terribly. Suddenly, Cricket returns along with his sister Calliope, and now Lola is forced to stop and examine her feelings, which turn out to not be as black and white as she thought they were. 

Cricket was just the absolute best book boyfriend in YA contemporary fiction I've ever met. He was funny and awkward and adorable and sweet. He cares about Lola so much and has so many different ways of showing it. Cricket is, by no means, perfect, which is actually, pretty perfect. He made mistakes in the past with Lola, and now he wants to set them to rights. He knows she now has a boyfriend, and despite his best efforts at remaining platonic, he soon realizes that's just not possible. He's honest with Lola about how he feels, which can't be easy for him. 

Lola, by contrast, is pretty much the opposite of Cricket. It was hard for me to relate to her in any way. I don't really understand her incredible desire to hide what she looked like underneath crazy clothes, gaudy accessories and wild wigs. It's obvious she has a wicked talent for design, which I actually loved. But, to me, design isn't covering yourself in so much stuff that you can't see the girl underneath.

On top of that, she spends most of the book in denial, stringing Cricket along, as well as Alex. Turns out, Alex was a jerk of the highest order anyway, but that's besides the point. I get that Lola was confused - that she was convinced that Cricket was her past and Alex was her future, despite every blaring warning inside her head to the contrary. Lola was not brave. She was definitely not perfect. 

I did love the ending very much. As Lola finally comes to realize who she really is and what she really wants, she makes the first mature decisions of the entire book. It was then that I built the first traces of respect for her. She gives of herself to help someone who had only ever done things to tear her down. She comes clean to Alex and finds closure. She also comes clean to Cricket and puts the ball firmly in his court, and is okay with that. And, she realizes that quirky is okay as long as you can continue to shine through it all. Now THAT is the kind of heroine I can get behind. 

I loved so much that we saw a lot of Anna and Etienne in Lola and the Boy Next Door. They are both back state-side, and it turns out that Lola and Anna work at the same place. They forge a solid friendship, and Etienne and Cricket do the same, as they are staying on the same floor of the dorm at Berkley. Things were also set up quite nicely for all four of them to go back to Paris for Isla and the Happily Ever After. Stephanie Perkins is a fantastic writer and the stories she invents are compelling and interesting. I can't wait to see how it ends for all these beloved characters.  

1 comment:

patty said...

I too found Lola really hard to relate to and thought I was definitely going to like it less than Anna, which I loved, but towards the end really made up for all my reservations from the beginning and I ended up loving it just as much as I loved Anna. I can't wait for Islas story :) Great review.