“Lola and the Boy Next Door” by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the boy next door cover

I was a bit surprised by Lola and the boy next door, the novel companion of Anna and the French Kiss. As you may know, I didn’t like Anna and the French Kiss that much, mostly because of the clichés and Anna herself whom I found annoying. I did like Stephenie Perkin’s way of writing relationships and making them involve though, so I thought I would give the second book a chance. I’m glad I did; I really enjoyed reading this book (read it in one sitting!).

This is the story of 17-year-old Lola, who lives in San Francisco with her two dads. Lola is an eccentric girl whose clothes look more like costumes than anything else. She also has trouble dealing with her homeless biological mother…

I don’t believe in fashion. I believe in costumes. Life is too short to be the same person every day.

Lola has a 22-year-old rockstar boyfriend whom his parents don’t accept, mostly because of his age. Just before Lola starts her senior year, her old neighbors move back in : the Bell family. Lola has a past with one of the Bell twins, Cricket : he broke her heart two years ago. Seeing him again after two years brings up bad memories, and she struggles with the knowledge that her feelings for him may have never really left.

So, yes. There is a love triangle. But not a real love triangle : you know who Lola is going to end up with (if you’re clever enough to figure it out from the title).

The main improvement for me in this book are the characters : they’re more original and feel more real than in Anna and the French Kiss. I liked Lola’s eccentricity and how much it affected her confidence. I liked all her weird habits and her personality in general. She had flaws that bothered me, still, like not knowing what she wants or being a hypocrite sometimes. But she was conscious of all those flaws and she tried to be better, and that is something I loved about her. She made mistakes, but she’s 17, so I forgave her. Sometimes she makes an idiot of herself, just like Anna did. But she’s just a teenage girl. Another annoying thing about her she has in common with Anna : she can be such a drama queen. The whole deal with Cricket breaking her heart : I thought he did something unforgivable. But no. She just made a scene. Again… because she’s 17?

The boys. In fact, I liked Max a lot in the beginning. I totally understood why Lola wanted to be with him, and I liked that everything was not black and white : we can see why she would want to stay with him, but we could also see why she shouldn’t.

“Perfect is overrated. Perfect is boring.”

I smile. “You don’t think I’m perfect?”

“No. You’re delightfully screwy, and I wouldn’t have you any other way.”

And Cricket. Ah, Cricket. He was amazing. The “nice boy”, so adorable and kind. He’s not a really common love interest, and I loved all his weirdness and how awkward he could be. How much he talked; he made me think of a little boy. But in the same time he was mature and responsible.

Here’s the thing about Cricket Bell. You can’t NOT notice him when he walks into a room. The first thing that registers is his height, but it’s quickly followed by recognition of his energy. He moves gracefully like his sister, but with an enthusiasm he can’t quite control- the constantly moving body, hands, feet. He’s been subdued the last few times I’ve seen him, but he’s fully revived now.

The romance was adorable. Cricket was the mature one, and he was always honest and there for her. And so kind. I love Cricket Bell.

Calliope Bell. I liked her a little bit too much. She is a perfectionist. She is used to having all the attention on herself, and her character felt so real. I won’t tell you more about her, but you do get to know her a bit, and I appreciated that.

The best friend, though, I didn’t like all that much. She was just kind of there, a bit useless to the story, but I guess Lola’s gotta have a high school best friend, right? I liked the presence of Anna and St. Clair, who were really cute and funny as “the mature ones” who were just there for Lola. It’s nice to see St. Clair through someone else’s eyes, he’s just as funny and I like seeing a couple I love from an outsider’s point of view. Anna and St. Clair are both good friends to Lola and I love their friendships.

Anna prods St. Clair’s shoulder. “Come on. Weren’t you gonna show me that thing?”
“What thing?”
She stares at him. He stares back. She cocks her head toward Cricket and me.
“Ah, yes.” St. Clair stands. “That thing.”
They rush out. The door shuts, and St. Clair shouts, “Lola, Cricket wants to show you his thing, too-oo!”

If I had to describe this book in one word, I would say sweet. It was so incredibly endearing. I couldn’t put it down, just like with Anna and the French Kiss, I laughed a few times, and I had a good time reading about these characters. I would recommend it to anyone who liked Anna and the French Kiss and/or is looking for a cute love story.

Rating : 15.5/20

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