Nancy O'Toole's Reviews > Lola and the Boy Next Door

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
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Jan 28, 12

bookshelves: contemporary-fiction, library, young-adult
Read from January 23 to 26, 2012

Seventeen-year-old Lola wants two things out of her life. One is to design an elaborate Marie Antoinette-style ball gown for her winter formal, and two is for her fathers to accept her much older boyfriend Max. Then Cricket and Calliope Bell move back in next door, and everything changes. Lola once cared deeply for Cricket and at the sight of him, those feelings come rushing back. And when it looks like Cricket may return those feelings, Lola finds herself second guessing everything about her relationship with Max.

Despite the fact that I’m not a huge fan of romances, I really enjoyed Anna and the French Kiss, and consider it to be one of my favorite reads of 2011. So when I learned that Stephanie Perkins had written a companion novel, I picked it up right away. Although Lola and the Boy Next Door feature characters from Anna and the French Kiss, the story really belongs to Lola and Cricket. Although I did ultimately enjoy this novel, I have to admit that it was a little disappointing after the charming Anna and the French Kiss. There were certain elements about it that just didn't work for me.

Let’s start out with the positive. Much like how the first book does a fantastic job of transporting the reader to France, Lola does the same thing for San Francisco, bringing the city’s quirky charms to life. I also enjoyed the family aspects of this novel. Lola was raised by two gay men, and the author does a great job of portraying their relationship without resorting to offensive stereotypes. I also enjoyed the complex relationship between Lola and her birth mother. I thought that Cricket was a really nice romantic lead, and liked the fact that the author was not afraid to give him a few less than manly characteristics (such as the fact that he obviously pays attention to his wardrobe), as it made him a more interesting character. When it comes to Lola herself, I’m happy that she has purpose and drive (designing clothes) beyond her romantic pursuits.

As mentioned before, I did have a few issues with this book that hampered my enjoyment. I didn’t find the character of Lola to be as likable as Anna, and she seemed to be a bit of a spaz. My biggest issue with the novel is the fact that it can feel a lot like Anna and the French Kiss in reverse. Like Anna and the French Kiss, the romance is centered around two people who obviously love each other, but one person just happens to already be in a relationship when the books begins (in Anna, Etienne St Clair had a girlfriend, in this novel Lola has a boyfriend), which therefore keeps them apart. I don't think this this is a bad story idea, but I liked it a lot more during the first novel, when it still seemed fresh. I also felt as if this novel was even more focused on romance than Anna and the French Kiss was. As someone who isn’t hugely into romance (as mentioned before), this wasn’t to my taste.

In my opinion, Lola and the Boy Next Door did not measure up to Anna and the French Kiss. Still, I felt the good outweighed the bad, and did end up enjoying the book (the ending is especially sweet). I still plan on reading the third book in the series, Isla and the Happily Ever After, when it it eventually released in 2013.
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Reading Progress

01/23/2012 page 74
22.0% "Companion to Anna and the French Kiss. So far, I don't think it measures up to Anna but it's still fun."
01/24/2012 page 190
56.0% "Setting comes across very strong. Makes me want to visit San Francisco"
01/25/2012 page 241
71.0% "You know sometime when I read this, I feel like the romance is almost a reverse of Anna and the French Kiss (if that makes any sense...)."
01/26/2012 page 338
100.0% "Done! Quite a nice ending. Review coming soon."

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