Saturday, October 1, 2011

[Review] Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Title: Lola and the Boy Next Door {goodreads}
Authors: Stephanie Perkins
Publication (dd/mm/yy): 03/10/11
Publisher: Penguin (AU)
RRP: $19.95
Source: For review (thanks Penguin!)
Age: 14+
Pages: 350
My Rating:

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.
My thoughts: 

Just about perfection. THIS was just what I needed. Stephanie Perkins, you have done it again.


I'm almost at a loss for words.

Also, since I'm just wired this way, I noticed 4 grammatical errors in my *finished* copy. Nothing too major, otherwise I'd probably report it, haha. Just thought I'd say it for the sake of saying it.

San Francisco seeps out of this book like a soothing song. The story of Delores 'Lola' Nolan had me feeling and doing very, very similar things to when I joined Anna Oliphant's journey in France. It really makes me breathe a sigh of relief that it wasn't just the setting of France that had me so caught up in ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. I smiled, I giggled/laughed/chuckled, cried, fought back tears (losing in the end), felt frustrated, annoyed, confused. Perkins just has that effect on me. :P

In LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR, we have Lola Nolan, a budding designer with a wacky and totally awesome sense of style. She's got a badass rocker boyfriend who is exactly five years senior to her seventeen years of age. And her best friend Lindsey and gay parents Andy and Nathan care deeply for her. Everything in her life seems to be really heading up as her impending future becomes more and more realistic. Until. The Bell family move into the house next door, again. And Lola deals with the struggle as waves of unresolved feelings for the boy next door resurface. When she discovers that one piece in her life really did not - and never did - fit, what happens next for them?

Crappy non-spoilery synopsis for an awesome book. I love the dynamic between Lola and Cricket, the 'boy next door'. I loved his little quirks - the wristbands, the writing on the back of his hand, the hair that consistently sticks up, the 'tight pants' (hehe for bold), his insect-like-ness. Lola's such a complex character, and I love that she fights this inner turmoil about her identity. Who is the real Dolores? Her sewing prowess sounds like a force to be reckoned with, and I loved reading about the costumes she wears. Together, they are really cute. The development is just so realistic. Cricket comes and goes, and he has this whole life outside of his waning love for Lola. It's painful watching them go around in circles, but it just makes their ending that much more satisfying.

Anna and St. Clair make their appearance, as Perkins promised. It's great that we get to see their future, that they're stronger than ever and they complement each other to the max. I was actually expecting the couple only to be a really tiny part in the story, but they played a much bigger part than I thought. If you were suffering from post-ANNA withdrawal, you'll be pleased to know that they're as humorous and sickeningly sweet and perfect for each other, just as they were. They offer a nice support for Lola during her times of distress and help her come to terms with her tumultuous feelings. Seal of approval!

So. Gay parents. Never before in my life have I read a book whose main character's parents were gay. And they are awesome, Andy and Nathan. I'll admit that at times I had a hard time differentiating the two, but they are great parents who act like TWO protective parents. One a little more forgiving and sensitive than the other, as is the norm with 'normal' parents. Also, Nathan's younger sister, Norah. No spoilers there, but I enjoyed her presence in Lola's life.

Writing-wise, you can expect a style in a similar vein to ANNA. First person. Lola has a great voice and it really comes through in LOLA. Some of the humour present in this book actually comes from her narrative voice and how it relates to what's really going on. Perkins' writing is pretty solid, apart from the four errors (and there might be more) that the editors didn't pick up.

As YA romances tend to be, LOLA is predictable. And that's not a bad thing in any sense of the word. There are little subplots that really make this book, among ANNA, stand out among the genre. Lindsey and her own problems, Calliope Bell's ice-skating career . . . It's not like I knew every single thing that was going to happen, but I really just mean predictable in the way that events would generally unfold. It's obvious from the start that . . . (highlight for maybe spoilers) Lola and Max have a falling out and slowly she and Cricket close the gap and move from awkward kind-offriends, to something more.
Perkins masterfully sculpts a story that's hard to pull away from. I loved it all! Now, for Isla's story in ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER! I'm so excited to really read more about Isla's character - we barely got a glimpse at all in ANNA.

And now for a list:
  1. Anna and St. Clair
  2. Lola's wicked sense of style
  3. A must for anyone who even likes contemporary novels, YA or otherwise
  4. A romance that isn't starcrossed, nor is it instantaneous or unrealistic or ridiculous or convenient or the only plot point of the book
  5. Parents who beat the YA stereotype of:
    a) absenteeism or negligence,
    b) no gay parents,
    c) no awesome parents, full stop
  6. Stephanie Perkins.
  7. Laugh out loud HILARIOUS
  8. Openly tear up DEPRESSING (at some points)
  9. The main character is actually IN a relationship at the beginning, and we get to see a realistic deterioration of that relationship
  10. And for emphasis, Stephanie Perkins!! Come on. 


First lines

"I have three simple wishes.They're really not too much to ask.
     The first is to attend the winter formaal dressed like Marie Antoinette. I want a wig so elaborate it could cage a bird and a dress so wide I'll only be able to enter the dance through a set of double doors. But I'll hold my skirts high as I arrive, so everyone can see that, underneath the frills, I'm punk-rock tough. 
     The second is for my parents to approve of my boyfriend. ...
     And my third wish?
     To never ever ever see the Bell twins ever again. Ever.


     What a powerful, frightening word. It represented my feelings toward him, but every night, my dreams placed it inside his mouth.
     I needed him to touch me. I was obsessed with the way his hands never stopped moving. The way he rubbed them together when he was excited, the way he sometimes couldn't help but clap. The way he had secret messages written on the back of his left. And his fingers. Long, enthusiastic, wild, but I knew from watching him build his machines that they were also delicate, careful, precise. I fantasized about those fingers.

(p. 65, Lola)

""Lola." He rolls his chair over to my side. "I know things are shite right now. And in the name of friendship and full disclosure, I went through something similar last year. When I met Anna, I was with someone else. And it took a long time before I found the courage to do the hard thing. But you have to do the hard thing."
     I swallow. "And what's the hard thing?"
     "You have to be honest with yourself."

(p. 250, √Čtienne St. Clair - who else?)


* cheapest Australian e-store price


Fishpond | Readings | Dymocks | Angus & Robertson | Borders | The Nile *


All links from Booko, because I'm too lazy to search each individual store anymore.

I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

Challenge: ---

LOLA in a song: Katy Perry - Thinking of you
"Oh I wish that I
Was looking into your eyes


He kissed my lips
I taste your mouth
He pulled me in
I was disgusted with myself

Cause when I'm with him
I am thinking of you


You're the best
And yes I do regret
How I could let myself
Let you go
Comment with your own "LOLA in a song"!
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