Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins


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.

I loved Anna and the French Kiss and I was excited to get stuck into the next book which was a present from Liz for Christmas (thank you Liz!). I was also a little scared though. Would I love it as much as Anna? Would I bond with the main characters? Lola is no clean cut little girl. She has a twenty two year old boyfriend who plays in a band to whom she lied about her age. Now she has to endure Sunday brunches with said boyfriend and her two dads which she finds excruciating but are a necessity so that they can keep tabs on Max. Despite all of this they seem rock solid at the start of the book and I wasn't sure how anything could come between them (apart from the fact that boyfriend Max continued seeing Lola when he discovered her age and on occasions calls her Lolita - ewwww!).

Lola is a flamboyant character who dresses as though she's going on stage and doesn't let the snide girls at school deter her. But when the neighbours return she's forced to revisit her feelings about them. Calliope is a figure skater who's aiming for the Olympics and Cricket is her twin brother. Bit by bit the story behind Lola's dread of their return comes out and I found my feelings towards all the characters in the book flip-flopping as I read on. At one point I'm behind Max for his determination to make Lola's dads happy but then little by little I start feeling for Cricket and become curious about his past.

Alongside this little triangle is the story of Lola's mum who got pregnant at sixteen and ran away from home. She then had problems with alcohol and drugs and was homeless for a while. She's still unable to handle her life and moves in with Lola (her brother is one of Lola's dads). This makes Lola understandably furious but this subject is treated well; there's no attempt to make her a fairy tale ending but I loved watching this character develop. I was also intrigued by the way that Lola changes too. At first she considers herself as a good daughter as she keeps her grades up and phones home when she's expected too but she's constantly sneaking around behind her dads' backs and easily lies to Max too rather than have an uncomfortable confrontation. By the end of the book I think she's a pretty wonderful girl with a loving extended family.

Anna and Etienne make an appearance and it was great to catch up with them and to see their relationship from another viewpoint. I'm so looking to forward to Isla and the Happily Ever After which will be released in the autumn which is described as the final companion novel to Anna and Lola.

ETA: Stephanie has just announced on her blog that Isla will now be released in 2013. I really felt for her when I read this and I wish her all the best.


serendipity_viv said...

I am beginning to think Sarah and I have very similar book tastes!

Tanya Byrne said...

I keep hearing great things about Stephanie Perkins. This book in particular sounds like my cup of tea so adding to my wish list. Thanks, Sarah!

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

I just read and loved Anna so I'm really looking forward to this arriving. Great review!

Jenni (Juniper's Jungle) said...

I've got both this and Anna and the French Kiss on my wishlist already, but if I hadn't I'd be putting them on it now :)

Mieneke van der Salm said...

This sounds like another lovely story from Ms Perkins! You're going to be as bad as Liz is for making me want books, aren't you?