Monday, September 16, 2013

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door

Lola and the Boy Next Door
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Published: July 9, 2013
Paperback, 368 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighbourhood. 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.

There's just something about Perkins's writing that gets right into my soul and makes me want more. Maybe it's her brilliantly flawed characters that come alive and beg to be heard. Or her settings, rich in detail and just as much a character as the rest. Though I bet it's both these things, twisted together to create a story that leaps off the page and feels like it's happening to your best friend. After reading Anna and the French Kiss, I knew I'd found a new favourite author. And the sequel did not disappoint. Each character was unlike any before and it was refreshing to see such diversity in such a small amount of space.

Lola does not live a typical life. Raised by her uncle and his boyfriend, she loves to be theatrical. She goes everywhere in costume, a new wig everyday and a stand out outfit to match. She knows people thinks she's quirky, but it's all she knows. Her life is working out exactly as planned, she's got great plans for her winter formal dress and she's dating an older rockstar. But when she spots one of the Bell twins, people she grew up next door to most of her life, she knows it's not long until she sees the other, Cricket, and the heartbreak that comes with him. Before she knows it, she's feeling things she shouldn't be and trying to get her life back in order.

One thing that stood out most to me was how non stereotypical this novel was: Two gay dads that are strict and act like normal parents would, no special programming about gay marriage. A female teenage character who's had sex and does not let this change who she is. A male love interest with little to no sexual experience, and a drug recovering mother who isn't there to be taught a lesson or change who the female is, she's just there because that's how life really is. Everything about this book felt real. The emotions Lola felt for Cricket resurfacing after not seeing him for years. He broke her heart, but seeing him after all that time and having him be so different than she remembers creates new feelings that can't be ignored. Real life is hard and sometimes there are people who will get hurt, and maybe she didn't do things the best way possible, but that just made it more real. I've never been one for love triangles, but this one was not forced at all. It was similar to the one in The Hunger Games, where you knew there was really only one person she could pick. Perkins could write just about anything and I'd root for it.

I love how she connected Lola's story to Anna and Etienne's. Lola and Anna work together and Etienne knows Cricket from school. They play small roles in this book, but they are pivotal and help Lola to make some hard choices. I can't wait until all the stories come together in the final book, Isla and the Happily Ever After. I've fallen in love with these characters so quickly and I can't wait to see more of them. Lola is one of a kind, eccentric and outspoken, and Cricket is just as he's described, the boy next door who would do anything for the girl whose heart he broke. Realistic obstacles, strict parents, and problems every teenager faces, this book will break your heart and then make you laugh at the next page. This book was utter perfection, an equal contender for its predecessor, and I know the finale will not disappoint. Some YA books fall short, but this was is perfect and heart warming. If you have not discovered this series yet, then what are you waiting for?

“Just because something isn't practical doesn't mean it's not worth creating. Sometimes beauty and real-life magic are enough.” 

“And if I'm the stars, Cricket Bell is entire galaxies.” 

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