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Lola and the boy next door by Stephanie…
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Lola and the boy next door (edition 2011)

by Stephanie Perkins

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76714912,072 (4.1)40
Member:annie-b
Title:Lola and the boy next door
Authors:Stephanie Perkins
Info:New York, N.Y. : Dutton Books, 2011.
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:young adult, romance, overdrive ebook

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Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

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For more reviews, Cover Snark and more, visit A Reader of Fictions.

You guys!!!! I am so happy to report that Stephanie Perkins books can totally be Christina books. I thought it was possible, but my Anna experience scared me a whole lot. Plus, Anna and Isla seem pretty universally loved, but Lola and the Boy Next Door seems to be fairly divisive even among her fan base. Oh well, I do love being predictable. Where I found Anna alternately incredibly shippy and enraging, Lola and the Boy Next Door was perfectly adorable and vibrant from page one.

It’s rather funny how much I don’t seem to have the proper reactions to Perkins’ characters. I didn’t get why so many people loved St. Clair and now I don’t get why so many don’t like Lola. Well, okay, I guess I can understand it from an objective perspective. Lola is very…well, LOLA. She’s an individual to a degree that shocks and upsets others, perhaps out of envy or maybe just because they like people to stay in their boxes. You could call Lola twee and not be entirely wrong about that. So I get it. Sort of. Lola would definitely be a hard person for me to take in real life and, more to the point, it would be difficult to find someone like her in real life. That seems to be the thing people really don’t like about Lola and the Boy Next Door. Though I didn’t know anyone like Lola and probably wouldn’t have the energy to be her friend even if I did, I like that people like her exist.

Looking at Lola from a more positive angle, she embraces who she is. Ever since childhood, she’s been obsessed with fashion and she’s loved to look completely different every day. She wants to design clothing. Most likely she wouldn’t be caught dead in an outfit as boring as the one on the cover (which, okay, I actually love that outfit). Lola wears wigs almost every day, not because there’s something wrong with her own hair, but because she likes to and needs them to complete her ensemble. Lola is indefatigable. Though it’s not central to the novel’s plot line which doesn’t involve going to school, there are subtle hints that she’s been bullied for this (as she obviously would be), but she does her own thing anyway. She’s young and she’s still learning, but she’s way already got a grasp of the important thing, which is embracing who you are. Someone like Lola could easily annoy me, but she’s just so genuine about her fashion and so non-judgmental, aside from a couple of rare occasions, of how other people choose to clothe themselves.

So yeah, I love Lola. When Lola and the Boy Next Door begins, she’s dating this older guy, Max. He’s 22 her 17. Their relationship’s not viewed favorably by anyone but Lola and Max, really. Her parents (more on them later) allow the relationship, with conditions, because they know that telling teens straight up NOT to do something is only going to make them do it even less safely. Smart parenting, yo. Anyway, it’s obvious from the book title that Max is not the guy. I’d also heard about Max and he’s honestly not as bad as I expected. He’s got a few issues, but he also does seem to care for Lola some in his way. The relationship is doomed from the beginning, but I can see why she didn’t see that. His side is less clear, but it’s also not his book. For Lola, I think a lot of the appeal is that he liked her costumes and her Lolaness.

Sidebar for Lola’s gay dad’s, Andy and Nathan. These guys are completely wonderful, loving, slightly over-protective parents. In a land of YA with missing parents, Andy and Nathan are kings. They love Lola so incredibly much, even though technically they’re her uncle and partner. One of my favorite tropes is a built family and Lola and the Boy Next Door does this so well. Also, though I can’t say I much cared for Norah, Lola’s biological mother and Nathan’s sister, I do think it’s wonderful that Perkins addressed her and that there’s a nice character arc for her as well.

Anna and St. Clair are characters in Lola, since Anna works with Lola at the movie theater. While I can’t say that I’m any more of a fan of their relationship, it was interesting getting to see them from the outside. I think Anna’s narration played down (snerk) just how short St. Clair is. They seem really true to their presentation in Anna, but also slightly different the way they would be when not viewed from Anna’s perspective. In that sense, this is one of the better cameos I’ve seen in a companion novel.
Also, for all that I hated the treatment of infidelity in Anna and the French Kiss, I love the way it’s handled in Lola and the Boy Next Door. Where St. Clair made excuse after excuse, Lola really doesn’t. She’s constantly thinking about what she should be doing. She knows from the beginning she could have Cricket Bell if she wanted him, but she’s not sure if she wants him or Max. St. Clair knew who he wanted and didn’t want to act in case he ended up alone. I will say that I did enjoy his advice to Lola about making the right choice, and that’s pretty much the only good thing to come out of the romantic drama of Anna. Lola also never allows anyone else to take the blame for her part in things being a mess. That’s just how Lola is and I love it.

Then there’s Cricket Bell. He is the anti-St. Clair in just about every way. He’s really tall (6’4″ not counting the hair), goofy, socially awkward, and, at least at this time, very open with his feelings. Cricket Bell is the best and most reliable friend you’ll ever have. He puts others before himself consistently, which is basically his largest character flaw. As Lola and the Boy Next Door stresses, they really complement one another. Yes, I ship it. Yes, the fact that she hated him for much of the book didn’t hurt my shippitude.

Why only four stars when I thought everything was fantastic? I know, I know. See, I did love it. But also I just didn’t get the feels the way that I do in my 4.5 and 5 star reads. I never fell into the book and forgot I was reading. I never got vicarious butterflies. For some reason I never got to that I SHIP IT LIKE BURNING place, you know? I do think I would get there on a reread. I suspect I was just so on my guard because I was afraid it would end up making me sad and disappointed in the end like Anna that the feels couldn’t really fully ignite.

Possibly controversial opinion? Lola and the Boy Next Door far outpaces Anna and the French Kiss, and not just because I didn’t like the ship in the first book. It’s more well-rounded, more vibrant, and Cricket Bell is a far superior love interest. Also, anyone else really want a book about Calliope Bell? Because I do. ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Dec 16, 2014 |
Lola Nolan is far from ordinary. She doesn't wear clothes, she wears costumes, bright yellow raincoats, lavender wigs, cheetah print dresses.

If Lola were given three wishes they would be simple, straight forward and to the point.

1. To attend her winter formal dressed as Marie Antoinette.
2. To have her parents approve of her boyfriend.
And 3. To never see the Bell twins again.

Too bad in the words of Augustus Waters "The world is not a wish granting factory."

When Cricket and his family move back into the house next door to Lola her life slowly starts spinning out of control. Throw in her unstable mother, slightly overprotective dads and her jealous older boyfriend and you've got trouble.

Suddenly it seems like the only thing Lola can control is her wardrobe.

I. Loved. This. Book.

Not only is Lola now one of my all time favorite characters but it also had Anna and Etienne from The French Kiss in it.

I loved the dynamic between Lola and her parents as well as the one between her and Cricket. Obviously I wasn't too keen on Calliope but really who was? And yes in the end she did grow on me the tiniest bit.

I devoured this book.

Stephanie Perkins has this magical way of writing a story this grabs you and refuses to let go. She breathes life into characters and places and even once you finish the book you can still picture it clearly in your mind as if you were a first hand witness to the event that took place.

Even now, two weeks after reading Lola I can still see her outfits and her room in its organized chaos. I see the view from her window, illuminated by the moon and I can smell the hypnotic scent of Apple Pie wafting from the kitchen.

I dare you to pick up this book and not fall in love with the characters inside it and the author who created them.

Until next time,
Ginger ( )
  Ginger_reader22 | Oct 26, 2014 |
This book was not as immediate for me as Anna and the French Kiss. Where Anna was easy to relate to, I found Lola near insufferable at the start of this book. I'm irritated by people who choose to represent their personality via physical media, for example what they wear (another example is people who immediate go into a list of their interests/fandoms when you ask them about themselves - it's a similar thing) and a lot of Lola's decisions were so poor that her inner personality came off pretty badly. The book grew on me, mostly because I really like Cricket and began to sympathise with Lola's plight. She still appeared immature for sixteen, but this bothered me less as the story developed.

There's not much to the plot, which is essentially the same as AatFK except genderswapped - boy and girl meet (although in this case they have a little history) but one of them is otherwise involved, shenanigans ensue. I am not bothered generally by Lola's apparent emotional cheating on her boyfriend, largely because it's in keeping with her immaturity. And while I've seen a lot of people say that five years isn't a big gap, I can see why it would seem so at that age - I think age gaps can be significant where there is a significant difference in life "stage" - where one party is at school and the other at college/university or even beyond that, I think that can cause a fundamental difference in expectations and experience. However, the whole romantic plot felt a bit stretched out compared to AatFK, which was just a snick away from being stretched thin in itself. Perkins' writing is bang on, which helps to paper over this somewhat, but pretty much everything after she breaks up with the original boyfriend is unnecessary and makes this sweet book a little tiresome towards the end. One thing I thought the book got absolutely right was the portrayal of Lola's birth mother - that was easily the most touching part of the whole narrative.

I think if you liked Anna, you'll like this, but most likely not as much. I love Perkins' writing and she has the perfect voice for this kind of escapist romance - she's sweet but rarely veers too far into the cheese zone. I just hope that for Isla and the Happily Ever After she tries something a little different because I don't think this plot can stand a third airing. ( )
  humblewomble | Oct 19, 2014 |
I'll skip the synopsis and go straight to my thoughts.

First off, I loved that Lola has two dads and neither of them fall into a stereotype. They are two unique individuals with their own personalities, and she calls both of them "dad." I love it! I wish that more young adult books featured diverse families like this.

And what was pretty much the only thing that I loved about the book. Ha.

I found Lola to be an okay character, but I just couldn't like her. Granted, I know that she's only seventeen, but she seemed so immature for most of the book, although she did start to finally grow a little bit in the end (not enough, though). She pretty much gets her way when it comes to everything, from dating a twenty-two-year-old musician (that never would have flown in my house growing up) to wearing pretty much whatever she wants. And granted, when I was a teenager I wore some interesting choices at times, but Lola takes it to the extreme and beyond. I just can't see her as being very relatable to, well, anyone.

And Cricket. CRICKET. I just couldn't get over that name. It's not a nickname; that is what is on his birth certificate. So he's either named after an insect or a sport. His other two siblings have relatively normal names, so I don't understand it. I guess it was just to make him quirky. Whatever. Anyway, he's an inventor and a geek, which I liked. But he was just too good and too understanding when it came to Lola. I kind of found myself wishing that he'd find some nice girl who wouldn't string him along while she's dating someone else. Just saying.

For most of the book, Lola is dating Max, the aforementioned musician. Her parents don't approve of him, but they let her see him anyway, even though he's almost six years older than her (they met when she was 16). So, even though everyone knows that Lola is going to end up with Cricket, for two-thirds of the book she is dating Max and then, later, dealing with the drama of a break-up with Max. I found out to be rather boring. It isn't even a love triangle; everyone KNOWS what is going to eventually happen. And then, of course, it does.

Lola attempts to come across as awesome and uncaring about what others think and being wildly independent, but most of that turns out to be an act. When Max insults Lindsay, Lola's best friend, Lola doesn't stand up to him and tell him that he's being rude. Nope. Instead, Lola runs after Max, leaving Lindsay at the festival (granted, Lindsay said it was okay, but still). And she doesn't stand up to Max's jealousy when it comes to Lola hanging out with Cricket, either. And when the pair finally breaks up, Lola goes through a phase where she would be anyone and anything that Max wanted, just so they could be together. Gag.

Cricket, on the other hand, is a good friend. Too good of a friend, really. He puts up with Lola's crap, when any sane person would be walking in the other direction as quickly as possible.

And the random appearances of Anna and Etienne felt forced and unlike them. They've morphed into this perfect couple who are completely bland and characterless now. Basically, they are one person. Like when Anna asks Lola what's going on and Lola asks if Anna is going to tell everything to Etienne, Anna unapologetically tells her that yes, she will be telling everything Lola says to Etienne. Because apparently Anna is no longer her own person and is half of Etianna, and they have mind melded. Some friend Anna is.

Basically, I found this book to be a gender-reversed version of Anna and the French Kiss, where this time the girl is the "dating someone else but wanting the other person" and the guy is the "friend who wants to be more."

I did end up rating the book three starts, because Perkins has an engaging writing style and she does humor well. I found myself laughing out loud several times. I just wish that she wrote characters that I could enjoy more. ( )
  schatzi | Aug 23, 2014 |
Just not liking this one at all. Lola sadly did not grab my attention the way Anna did. I made it to 100 pages but have no real interest in continuing. So DNFing and moving on. Hopefully Isla will be better. ( )
  sunset_x_cocktail | Aug 20, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stephanie Perkinsprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Duewell, KristinaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Henderson, JeanineCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vandervoort, IreneDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I have three simple wishes. They're really not too much to ask.
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Budding costume designer Lola lives an extraordinary life in San Francisco with her two dads and beloved dog, dating a punk rocker, but when the Bell twins return to the house next door Lola recalls both the friendship-ending fight with Calliope, a figure skater, and the childhood crush she had on Cricket.… (more)

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