Title: Lola and the Boy Next Door
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton Books, 2011
Stephanie Perkins has this amazing ability to just get it and write it all down. I don't know how she so perfectly captures the feelings of crushes, young love, awkwardness, and the pain and hurt that come with rejection or not being able to have the one you want, but she's done it again.
Lola and the Boy Next Door is told from Lola's perspective. Lola is dating an older guy named Max, a 22-year-old lead singer in a rock band. Unfortunately her two dads hate him. Also unfortunately, Cricket Bell and his family (including twin sister and not-very-nice person Calliope) move back next door. Lola had a thing with Cricket a couple of years earlier that didn't end so well, and she's still upset about it. But Cricket is only home on the weekends since he's going to college, and as the weeks pass, it turns out he's not as terrible as she thought. They begin a tentative friendship, but that is all it can be, because Lola is in love with Max. Right?
Lola is a pretty kooky character, in the best way possible. She has such a strong sense of self that she is able to dress up in costume almost daily (which she does). She loves color and originality and isn't afraid to show it in her wardrobe. All of the other characters in the novel are nice and round too, as they should be. Every one is fully developed without a stock character in sight. Lola's dads, Nathan and Andy, are awesome, oh and by the way, Lola has gay parents, which is also awesome. And Cricket is just such a cutie. A really really smart cutie who can be incredibly awkward. Really, every character is just so well thought out. And this is a pretty character-driven novel, so that's a great thing.
I don't think I enjoyed this one as much as its predecessor, Anna and the French Kiss, but that's only because AATFK was one of the best young adult novels I've read in a while. Both are excellent in their own way, I just preferred the first one over the second one. I think part of it might be because sometimes I just found Lola to be too much, but just for my tastes. Obviously she is just right for her own, and that's the point.
This is just a sweet, realistic romance that I could relate to as a reader, and I'm sure many other readers will be able to relate to as well. Highly recommended to fans of contemporary romance, quirky characters, and realistic fiction. Needless to say, I'll be picking up Perkins's third book, Isla and the Happily Ever After, when it comes out next year.
Disclosure: I got this from the library.