Title: Lola and the Boy Next Door
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss, #2
Release Date: July 9th 2013
Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighbourhood. 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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
This review may contain spoilers for previous book(s) in the series.
My Thoughts On…
Lola seems to be living a perfect life; she has a great boyfriend and they have their future planned out for when they can finally leave San Francisco for fame and fortune. Lola has her own unique identity which she is passionate about, she is confident and everything seems to be going her way. At least until the Bell twins move back in next door.
She hasn’t seen either Calliope or Cricket in years and for Lola that has worked out perfectly. She can forget how mean Calliope was to her, can forget how she made a fool of herself in front of Cricket and how he hurt her. But now Cricket is attending Berkley he returns home every weekend and he wants to pick up where he and Lola left off. The two become friends again but there are people close to each of them who don’t like the new friendship. Lola finds herself lying to her boyfriend about spending time with Cricket and she finds herself once again on the wrong side of Calliope’s wrath, who feels like Lola is leading her brother on.
It seems the only constant in Lola’s life is her boyfriend Max but even that could be set to change as he plans to go on tour with his band. With Lola lying to Max to cover the time she spends with Cricket it doesn’t seem like their relationship will continue being the rock she has always relied on.
Meanwhile struggling to understand what her feelings for Cricket really are – feelings which haven’t gone away even after all those years – Lola also struggles to deal with the return of her birth mother; a woman who has a history with drugs and alcohol, and who threatens to turn Lola’s carefully set life upside down.
Lola, on paper, seemed like a great character. She is strong and independent with a very set plan for her future. She lives her life dressing up in costumes and has a plan to attend her school dance as Marie Antoinette, determined to draw all eyes to her as she walks in with Max on her arm. However in reality I wasn’t a fan of her character. She seemed to make reckless choices and her relationship with Max just didn’t feel right for either of them, although neither seemed to realise it. Lola runs away with him when things get too tough heedless of the people left behind in her wake.
She seems to idolize Max and their vision of a future but it doesn’t feel real, more like a fantasy, which starts to become apparent to Lola as she spends time with Anna and Étienne. Max doesn’t like the things he has to do to make Lola’s parents accept their relationship, he sees them as trials he has to suffer through to spent time with Lola. He also doesn’t like Lola’s friends, being downright rude to them at times, and Lola does nothing about it. She doesn’t stand up for her friends and whenever Max calls she runs right to him.
Cricket I loved. He seems shy around new people, having spent the last couple of years putting his life on hold for his sister’s career as a figure skater. He loves his family and his sister but at times he feels as if they don’t appreciate him or his talents, and now he is determined to live his own life. As a child living next door to Lola he was obsessed with creating things, mainly Rube Goldberg machines, and that’s something that hasn’t changed as he offers to help with Lila’s dress for the dance.
The relationship between Cricket and Lola, like Anna and Étienne, seemed to start off with them being friends after Cricket admits his feelings for her and Lola tells him she’s in a relationship. However unlike Anna and Étienne their relationship as ‘just friends’ doesn’t seem to work, there’s too much tension between them, too much knowledge of the other person and of the feelings between them getting in the way. I liked Lola and lot more when she was around Cricket, she seemed to become her own person in a way she wasn’t when she was around Max.
I also loved the relationship between Lola and her dad’s, and between Lola and her birth mother. She clearly respects both her dad’s opinions and enjoys spending time with them; she wants them to accept Max in her life and it’s important they give them their blessing. Her relationship with her birth mother is a lot more complex. Lola feels embarrassed by her mother and a lot of the situations she puts their family through. However there are deeper feelings at play and I loved seeing the way Lola’s interactions with her mother changed as the novel commenced.
One of the things I loved the most about Anna and the French Kiss was how the setting of Paris was used as a backdrop to Anna and Étienne’s relationship. Seeing this book was set in San Francisco I was so excited because I went to San Francisco a couple of years ago and it became one of my favourite cities in the world. However it didn’t feel like Stephanie Perkins used the setting to its full potential. There were specific locations mentions; Muir Woods and Lombard Street, but I had hoped there’d be more like there was in Anna and the French Kiss. Granted this did feel more realistic to the story in some ways because unlike Anna Lola lives in San Francisco, she is not a tourist in the city, but I would have liked to see more of it through Lola’s and through Cricket’s eyes.
I stand by what I said in my review for Anna and the French Kiss, I do think I would have enjoyed this series more if I’d started it when I was younger. In some ways I enjoyed Lola more than Anna, there was no back and forth between Lola and Cricket which had me begging the two to talk to one another, but on the other hand I had a hard time really connecting to Lola’s character at the beginning of this story.
What did you think of Lola and the Boy Next Door? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.