Rummanah Aasi
  While good romantic comedies may be hard to find these days in the theaters, there are plenty of great YA romance stories to leave you happy. It took me a awhile to read Lola and the Boy Next Door not because of any hesitation about the book, but rather it was hard to find. It never stayed on the shelf at the library long enough for me to read it, which is almost always a great sign of a good book.

Description: 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.

Review: Lola, a junior in high school and an aspiring costume designer, lives with her two fathers in San Francisco. Armed with outlandish outfits, sequins, and wigs, she refuses to wear the same outfit twice. Her constant change of costume has annoyed some readers, but I found it to be endearing and a metaphor of how Lola is trying to find her own personality. Currently she dreams of a future with her older boyfriend, Max who is 22, as he pursues his rock-and-roll career. As we all know, life isn't always how we planned it to be and Lola's seems to be falling apart little by little. Her parents don't like Max and don't feel that dating an older guy is right for her, but that doesn't stop Lola and Max to take their relationship to higher levels. There were several times in the story where I wondered why Max stayed with Lola as he could have very easily have gotten women of his own age and whether or not Lola was using Max to rebel against her parents. Max seemed an alright guy, but I wasn't crazy about him. He comes and goes in the story as he pleases.
 Things dramatically shift when Cricket Bell (yes, Cricket is his real name and Bell is of the Alexander Graham Bell fame), Lola's first love who broke her heart two years earlier and left without a goodbye, moves back next door. The return of Cricket has Lola wondering what happened two years ago. As the two rekindle their friendship and perhaps more, Lola is left to make a decision. Does she go on living a life she fabricated herself or can she go back to her original idea and create something better with torn fabrics?
  Perkins has a knack in creating characters full of life. While Lola is your unconventional heroine and we may not always agree with her decisions, we do sympathize with her. Her shaken certainties and the obstacles that are thrown in her path give her maturity and depth. The focus of self-discovery or in the case of Lola, being comfortable in your own skin, is what makes her happy ending more fulfilling for herself and the reader. Cricket Bell is an adorable character who has own share of quirks and awkwardness. He never really fits into any category and that suits his personality just fine. Though not a hero without his own share of shortcomings, I couldn't help but smile every time he appeared on the page. Snappy dialogue, a great ensemble of characters (including a bonus treat of seeing Anna and St. Clair from Anna and the French Kiss), Lola and the Boy Next Door leaves us with a contented sigh and a smile on our face once we finish the book. i definitely recommend this book to readers looking for a romance or a light book with some depth. I can't wait to read Perkins' next book, Isla and the Happily Ever After, which is slated to be released Summer 2013.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language, scene of underage drinking and drug use, and sex is implied. Recommended for strong Grade 8 readers and up.

If you like this book try: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick, Past Perfect by Leila Sales, Catching Jordan by Miranda Keneally
8 Responses
  1. Jules Says:

    I tried to write a review about this book three times and failed in each attempt. You did a lovely job. I had one friend who said she really connected with this book because she identified with the journey Lola goes through to create herself. As a San Francisco native, I ran into several road blocks that had very little to do with the book. First, let me say that Blondies Pizza in Berkeley ROCKS! That's where I often hung out in high school on the weekends. I found the idea of her parents being a gay couple to be exceptionally cliche' given the fact that it was set in San Francisco. Perkins did a great job of not drawing over-due attention to it however. It was a non-issue in context of Lola's journey. It was, however, fun to walk through those streets and old haunts with Lola. Thanks Rum!


  2. Jenny Says:

    "Perkins has a knack in creating characters full of life.'

    YES! I couldn't agree more Rummanah:) Her characters are so very alive, they practically leap from the pages and live out their entire story right in front of me when I read her books. And Cricket was just so darn adorable wasn't he? I'm hugely excited if Isla, I need summer 2013 to come a bit faster!


  3. Stephanie Perkins just knows how to make you feel good doesn't she? I loved both her books and Lola and Cricket made me smile, but I didn't like the bitter note left with the whole Max thing. I loved seeign Anna and Etienne return, too. I have been eagerly waiting for Isla it was supposed to be out this Fall. I asked Laini Taylor at her signing since she is good friends with Stephanie and she said there had been some problems but it is coming!


  4. Candace Says:

    I loved this book! I think Perkins does amazing with her characters and am way excited for her next. I'm glad you enjoyed this too!


  5. Jenni Elyse Says:

    I'm glad you enjoyed this, Rum! It's such a fun book and you're absolutely right, Perkins does have a knack in creating characters full of life. It's one of the things I like most about Anna and Lola.


  6. Monica Says:

    I loved this book! Even though many people didn't like as much compared to Anna, I still think it was a very unique and cute story. Great review :D


  7. I'm back :)

    I actually didn't like this one as much as Anna probably because I kind of disliked Lola. I thought she was quirky and would have loved to seen her costumes in reality but I hated how she strung along poor Cricket and cheated on Max who himself was a douche. I'm hoping I'll end up liking Isla a whole lot more!


  8. I've had this forever to read and haven't gotten to it. I loved Anna and the French Kiss. I guess I'm waiting for a bad day. Maybe this winter. Great review! So glad you liked it so much.

    Heather


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