Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Title: Lola and the Boy Next Door
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Pages: 338
Published: September 29th, 2011 by Penguin
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Content: Swearing and thoughts of sex (I recommend it for ages 15 and up)
Summary: 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. (from Goodreads.com)
My Thoughts:

I always find that it is more difficult to write a review about the books I love the most rather than those I simply didn't care for. I believe it's because I am never fully able to expand on the depth of my feelings for said book and why I feel the way that I do. Lola and the Boy Next Door, for me, is one of those books.

I keep going over and over in my head what it was about Lola and the Boy Next Door that had me so enthralled that I could not put it down for the life of me. The characters are positively sensational and so developed I kind of wanted to step outside of my house just to double check that I was still in Arizona and not San Francisco, living next to Lola and Cricket. Lola is this fascinating and eccentric character - my very favorite kind of character - who spins this world of wonder and joy around her. Yes, she complains like every other teenager does, but she is also unique and good and fun and with every wig she put on and every costume she wore, I admired her even more. Plus, she is one of those teens who loves her parents more than anything. Then again, I loved her parents more than anything. Two fathers who love her more than life itself, two fathers who are there for her whenever she needs them. Two fathers who also have a kind loving relationship. Admittedly, I was a little jealous of her.

Lola has this love for life and the way we would all like to live it....or rather how I would like to live it; by letting my inside shine by displaying all the emotions and colors I feel inside on the outside, like blue hair and pink shoes or dresses that make me feel like I'm on fire. Maybe this sounds stupid, but to me it sounds wonderful.
I plan my outfit. If this is going to happen, I need to look better than the last time I saw him,[...]

I settle on a similarly checked red-and-white halter dress, which I made from an actual picnic blanket for the last Fourth of July. I add bright red lipstick and tiny ant-shaped earrings for theme, and my big black platform boots because walking will be involved. They're the sportiest shoes I own. I smooth my dress, erect my posture, and parade downstairs.
And then there is Cricket. Cricket Bell, neighbor extraordinaire, student of mechanical engineering at Berkley, the one person who Lola has always wanted. For me, my thoughts concerning Cricket do not develop into coherent words, more like a salad of words that dribble out of my mouth as I stare and gaze longingly after him. I think the reason for this is that I know him, or rather someone who is almost exactly like him (with a bit less height) and he is probably one of the most amazing people I have ever known or will ever know in my short life. So, I know how Lola feels because even though Lola is with someone else, she still wants Cricket there, in her life. Because in the end, you'd rather have them there than not at all because every moment you're with them, they lift you up and make you feel things you wish you could always feel.
"Lola, do you remember when you told me that I had a gift?" [Cricket]

I gulp. "Yes."

His eyes open and lock on mine. "You have one, too. and maybe some people think that wearing a costume means you're trying to hide your real identity, but I think a costume is more truthful than regular clothing could ever be. It actually says something about the person wearing it. I knew that Lola, because she expressed her desires and wishes and dreams for the entire city to see. For me to see."

My heart is beating in my ears, my lungs, my throat.

"I miss that Lola," he says.

I take a step toward him. His breath catches.

And then he takes a step toward me.
And that my dear friends is really and truly the heart of my feelings for this book. The plot.

A story that is sweet and kind as much as it reflects the darker side of life's capricious peculiarities, Lola and the Boy Next Door is the story I would have wished to happen over and over, but never did and most likely never will. Has this kind of story been told before? Probably, but I really don't care. Stephanie Perkins has this way with words that captivates me so much that I am mesmerized by it every time. Anna and the French Kiss was no different, but in Lola and the Boy Next Door I see a little more of myself and my hopes and dreams in Lola and Cricket and it makes me sigh page after page.
He glances down and notices that I'm still wearing a certain blue something, and, this time, it's his index finger that wraps underneath my rubber band.

I shiver wonderfully. "I'm never taking it off."

Cricket brushes the delicate skin of my wrist. "It'll fall off."

"I'll ask you for another one."

"I'll give you another one." He smiles and touches his nose to mine.
Stephanie Perkins writes tender, heartwarming, love stories where characters live and learn and fall in love and get hurt regularly. Her female leads are strong and flawed and I can't help but love them for everything they are and everything they aren't. If you are looking for a review where I break down the book and tell you what I did and didn't like, well...this not that review. No, the book wasn't perfect. Yes, there were a lot of similarities to Anna and the French Kiss. But for me, what it comes down to is, I loved this book so much for its simplicity and kindness, for its differences and eccentricities, for its relationships and fights, for its ability to make my heart ache and emotions soar and I will never, ever be able to say anything but how my heart swells remembering Lola and Cricket and the story that brings them together.

This book, this lovely little novel, reminds me of why I love to read and that there are still stories out there that I will stay up until near morning to finish. So, thank you Ms. Perkins. Thank you for writing the story you did. Thank you for Lola and Cricket and for crooked-happy endings that make me smile and sigh. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Related Posts: My Book Boyfriend - Cricket Graham Bell


13 comments:

  1. A completely beautiful review Jen! I couldn't agree more, she writes the most amazing and enjoyable love stories with characters that seem to transcend any cliches to be found in the genre and make everything feel unique:) I should just copy and paste your review and use it for my post on this book as it sums up my thoughts pretty damn well. But I won't because that's stealing:)

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  2. This book (and ANNA) is utterly charming. And Cricket Bell = <3

    Glad you liked it! :-)

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  3. Wow, Jen, I don't think you have any trouble whatsoever in expressing your feelings for this book. The quotes were fabulous and have me itching to read this book even more. Reading Stephanie Perkin's book is like watching a great romantic comedy. Though the story maybe old, but the feeling and the excitement that the characters bring somehow seem so fresh. By the way, I absolutely love the first quote. It had my heart thumping and I haven't even met thees characters before!

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  4. I still haven't read ANNA, but I haven't read a single bad review for LOLA or ANNA yet. I should probably get on that, eh? Great review :)

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  5. Awww! Okay! After the 12 trillion reviews I've read saying that I MUST READ THIS BOOK... Yours finally freaking convinced me chick!!!

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  6. aw, great review! and I couldn't agree more- now i can't wait for Isla to come, i hope it's set during Calliope's competition in Paris and that my 2 favorite couples are there :)

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  7. Ok that review was so good I might cry a little....

    Ok Im not really going to cry but it was really good- I feel like I kind of read the book, now I have to pick this up to finish the story...:)

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  8. Lola sounds like such a great protagonist! You've got me so curious about this book now,

    Wonderful review! :)

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  9. "His breath catches."

    Okay. An intense shudder when through my body after I read that middle scene.

    Glad to know you enjoyed this book so much. I would have been happy to have felt like I was in SF instead of TX while reading.

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  10. I have wanted to read it since I saw her purple hair. Yes, I'm that shallow. LOL

    Oh and I loved your review. Especially the salad part. Can you do my reviews for me from now on? LOVED your visuals even without a napkin! :)

    Yep, need this book!

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  11. @Jenny - Thanks, girl! I do love her stories, this one especially. I still can't stop thinking about it.

    @DJ - I know! He has me so wrapped around his very long finger! :D

    @Rummanah - I could not have said it better myself! It really and truly is like romance movies. I will continue to watch them and I will continue to read her books for the exact same reason.

    @Melissa - I remember you saying as much on your blog once. I know you were worried because of all the hype and you didn't know if you'd like it. I think you would. It's feel good fiction and I just love the easy feel to her stories. I really think you should break down and try it! :D

    @Ashley - Good! You need to read this! Have you read Anna and the French Kiss? I love Stephanie Perkins' books.

    @Stray - IKR! I have been so thinking about Isla, too. I cannot wait to see what happens. I really do hope that all of them are in it. I love seeing them together.

    @Tina - I have a tissue on hand for you anyway. LOL! It really is so good. I think you would like it!

    @Lea - Thank you! She really is an amazing protag. I love protags that create themselves, that splash color all over their worlds. That is Lola.

    @Missie - I know! I've never been there, but the sis lived there for some years whilst her hubby was in Med school. I really REALLY want to go. See if I can't find Cricket and Lola. ;D

    @Melissa - So, NOT, shallow. I've wanted to read it since I saw her purple hair and the boy next to her! I want purple put into my hair...I have color issues. :D But I've read Anna before so I knew what to expect. I'm very excited for her third book about Isla to be released (we meet Isla in Anna).

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  12. Ummm before I start reading your fab review of Lola, I want to say thanks for putting the 25 Days button on your sidebar :)

    I agree with you in regards to favorite books! :) My favorite books, I've noticed, I write the LONGEST reviews for.

    "my thoughts concerning Cricket do not develop into coherent words, more like a salad of words that dribble out of my mouth as I stare and gaze longingly after him."-AWESOME!

    You hit this book on the head!

    And I need you MBB post yesterday! ;)

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  13. Although I really enjoyed this novel, and it is definitely a romance, Lola does deal with some tougher issues than Anna did because of her family. Also, I have to admit that I missed the setting from Anna; while San Francisco is great, it just doesn't compare to Paris. Despite that, it is Lola's emotional journey that really makes this story great.

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I always love comments, and I read every single one!

Also, this is now designated an award free zone. Although I love awards and I love everyone for thinking of me, I just don't have the time to honor them like they need to be honored. Thank you though for your consideration!

XOXO Jen the Bibliophile

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