Lola and the Boy Next Door
29th September 2011
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.
You guys. YOU. GUYS. I swear, Stephanie Perkins is a freaking genius. She won us all over with her debut, Anna (ya'll know how much I adore that book, right?) and left us all wondering if her second book would be even remotely as good. Well, I'm telling you Lola is just as good, if not better. It had all the adorableness I expected, all the angst, all the humour, and plenty of Anna and Etienne to satiate our need to know that they're still happy and perfect together. Which they are. Seriously, can they just be real? Just for a day? Please?
I think Lola was a really interesting character, she was really different from Anna (which is good, because as much as I ADORE Anna, I would be a bit disappointed if Lola was just a carbon copy, you know?) I really loved her sense of fashion and costume, and I thought all of her outfits were just amazing! Jeez, I would be so impressed with myself if I had the guts to wear the amazing outfits she does. And I think that's one of the things she should know about herself. She thinks she's this bad person, that's not worthy of a nice guy, but she's really tough. She's resilient. She has this whole major sense of identity expressed by her clothes which other people dismissing as an identity crisis kind of shook for a while, but she came back, strong and more awesome than ever.
And Cricket. OMG Cricket. He is THE most adorable boy ever. No lies. Again, I thought he was gonna be another St. Claire type, slightly cocky and self assured and just charming and brilliant, but he wasn't. And this is SUCH a good thing. Because as much as I love St. Claire, I don't want another one. I wanted a different boy to swoon over. And boy did I get that ;p (yay unintentional punnage! ;P) Cricket was tall and lanky and awkward and had crazy hair and he invented things and he was so NICE. Seriously, he is the embodiment of the nice guy. Him and Lola are so freaking perfect for each other it's UNBELIEVABLE.
But, as with all books, there was an obstacle. By the name of Max. The BOYFRIEND. I really liked his and Lola's relationship, not in the way that it was a good one, because it wasn't. At all. It was rather unhealthy, and they weren't great together, but they were trapped in this dream where they were, and I loved that while a lot of books take this kind of relationship and present it as a good thing, where they end up (I like to imagine) unhappily married for eternity, this whole sort of bad relationship, where the boyfriend is not a nice guy, but just pretends to be, IS the bad thing. And it gets a resolution like that sort of thing would in reality. Which is what I love about these books. Despite the dreamy boys and their perfect relationships with the main character, that only comes after work and angst and realisations and it's all so real and natural and utterly believable.
Also, I LOVED Lola's dads. They were such great parents, and it was nice to see that after the void of parents in Anna. Also, despite the fact that they were gay, they weren't, like comic relief characters, like I see gay characters in a LOT of books being. They weren't overly camp, or stupidly girly, or overdramtic. There weren't any of the stereotypes there, and there was this wonderful bit when Lola was explaining the family dynamics, and she said neither of was the dominant 'father' or 'mother' figure of the relationship. They were just a couple, and they were both both. Lindsey and Calliope were characters I really liked too. Although I was preparing myself for Calliope to be kind of a bitch, she wasn't. I mean, she was, sometimes, too Lola, but she was three dimensional. She had a lot of pressure, and she really loved her twin (Cricket) and she didn't want to see him hurt is all.
Lola and the Boy Next Door was everything I wanted and more. It was so adorable, it was like staring at a barrel of sleepy puppies. It was so real, the story was so great, if not a tiny bit predictable, and the characters, as always, were brilliant, and real, and believable. I seriously don't think I'll be able to wait for Isla... ;)