Monday, September 12, 2011

Lola and the Boy Next Door ~ Stephanie Perkins (ARC) review

Lola and the Boy Next Door (companion to Anna and the French Kiss)
Dutton Juvenile*
September 29, 2011
384 pages

It should be noted, that I can have the same problem as Anna with reviews: “It’s easy to talk about things we hate, but sometimes it’s hard to explain exactly why we like something. (pg 55 arc)” so this review might turn into “I <3 this book” but I will try to actually say why.

Lola Nolan wants to be a costume designer - and she’s practicing on herself. The more sparkly, outrageous, quirky and wild she can make each day’s outfit, the better.

She’s also a good friend and daughter, though. With some big plans for the future. Plans that include her hot rocker boyfriend, Max.

Everything’s going pretty perfect until the Bell twins move back into the house next door.

The twins, Calliope the talented figure skater . . . and Cricket, the inventor and engineer who just might be ready to step out of his sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life.

That is if she’s ready to let him and figure out years of feelings for the boy next door.

I did not think I would love this book more than I loved Anna and the French Kiss, but I think I love it about seventeen times more (somehow!)!! (Fair warning, there might exclamation points in this review.)

I heart Stephanie Perkins so much. She is able to write romance like crazycakes. Not crazy bodice ripper romance (which does have its merits) but sweet, adorable, sometimes tearjerker-y, bittersweet, awe inspiring, really pretty perfect romance.

Quite a few social issues are covered in this book. But it never feels like either Lola or Stephanie Perkins are trying to force the issue or use Lola as a soapbox. They’re all simply parts of the story and/or the characters’ lives. I truly appreciate an author an author straying away from the cookie cutter norm (or what is usually seen as the norm even if it might not be) and doing it so well.

Lola does, at first, have a boyfriend that is 22-years-old to her 17 which at first sound kind of squicky. But it’s handled in such a way - lack of approval, realistic relationship difficulty, etc - that it loses the ‘really?!’ factor.

And there’s Cricket who you have to love, really. He’s now officially my book boyfriend. Not that I’d steal him away from Lola. Lola is a girl I want to be real because I would absolutely be her friend (or want to be, at least!). Her room is the cooler version of mine, she has, seemingly, the best fashion sense...And the most swoon-worthy neighbor.

Lola is this splendid romance with a great family dynamic that brings back characters from Anna and the French Kiss but underneath it all it's about figuring out who you really are (not who it might be cool to be or everyone expects you to be) and accepting that. Being happy with it, actually. Being happy with yourself. And not in some cheeseball way, either.

Lola and the Boy Next Door is now my favorite book. It’s my book - you know how you might have a song that you say ‘that’s my song!’ when it’s on? Lola is my book. It’s also the book that if anyone ever asks me for a book recommendation I’ll say, “Lola and the Boy Next Door, it’s perfect!!’

(On a side note, I think I want Stephanie Perkins - or Lola as my decorator.)

Rating: 3,742 stars/10

If there’s something I didn’t actually address in this review, feel free to ask in comments or ask me on Twiter @thebookspot

the HUGEST thanks to LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers and Penguin for my ARC - *Dutton/Penguin and LT, you gave me this and Imaginary Girls? I <3 you like mad

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