Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins | Book Review
AUTHOR: Stephanie Perkins
PUBLISHER/YEAR: Dutton Books / 2011
SERIES: A sort of companion to Anna and the French Kiss, but with a different setting and main characters
Goodreads / Author's Website
I fell in love with Stephanie Perkins when I read Anna and the French Kiss earlier this year. I immediately ran out and purchased Lola and the Boy Next Door, but then I was left with crippling, book related anxiety. What if it didn't live up to my expectations? What if I've built it up too much in my mind? You guys, I let it sit for months in my bedroom, just waiting around at the bottom of my giant stack of books. Well it turns out that all that worry was for nothing because Lola just confirms my love of Stephanie Perkins.
Lola and the Boy Next Door is exactly what I look for when I pick up a contemporary. It wasn't too heavy, but there were definite real world issues in play. Lola is a different kind of character; she definitely marches to the beat of her own drum. She doesn't believe in fashion, only in costume. She dreams of becoming a major Hollywood costume designer. Her boyfriend is an older guy in a rock band and she imagines them having the perfect bohemian life once she graduates. However, the Bell twins, Cricket and Calliope throw a bit of a wrench in her plans as old feelings pop up with Cricket's return.
Whenever I think of Stephanie Perkins' books so far I think of a romantic comedy in book form. She has this ability to bring the swoons, but create these problems that get in the way. Everybody can see these two characters are perfect for each other, but the story is in the telling of how they find each other. I personally love everything about it. Like sure maybe some of the situations are a little deus ex machina, but I love a good romance. These books just leave you feeling good at the end; how can you not love that?
There were times during Lola that I found myself rolling my eyes a little, but I was okay with it. Lola isn't the perfect character; she's got flaws and I can appreciate that as a reader. She's definitely got teenage girl mentality and she doesn't always see how her actions affect others. It was, at times, frustrating, but she shows growth as a character. And really, don't flaws just make a character more relatable anyways? Like who wants to read about somebody who's absolutely perfect? Lola is fun and spunky and she kind of does what she wants, but she's got emotions you guys. She's affected by her past, but not totally controlled by it and I really liked this girl.
Cricket too was fantastic. He's like the perfect geeky boy. So he's not as swoon worthy as Etienne, but he's got his own thing going on. He's quieter, but like pretty much a genius. He doesn't always say what he feels (hello miscommunications), but like overall, such a sweet and caring book boyfriend.
The thing I wasn't expecting, but really loved was the way Anna and Etienne were worked into this companion novel. Like I figured there might be a mention of them, but no, they were actually full on secondary characters who were good friends with both Lola and Cricket. It was nice to get a chance to see where they are now.
Family dynamics played a huge role in Lola which was just fantastic. Diversity was a thing; like it wasn't totally heteronormative which is a HUGE thing for me and I love love love that it wasn't treated like the biggest thing in the world. I also loved seeing the love and support from both Lola and Cricket's family. They weren't perfect and each character clearly had some family issues going on, but there was some genuine love there that just added an extra layer to the story that I really appreciated.
I can't really criticize much in Lola and the Boy Next Door. It was exactly what I was looking for when I picked it up. It was a light read, but it had enough weight to keep me fully engaged. It had some improbably situations, but Perkins' writing made them funny rather than annoying. Everything from the freak outs to the kisses were so well done that I absolutely devoured this book. I actually went back and re-read Anna after finishing this one, just because I needed more Perkins in my life. She writes characters that I can totally invest in and she does it in a way that makes me laugh and swoon. I honestly couldn't ask for more.