Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Dutton Books
Publication Date: September 29th 2011

4 OUT OF 5 STARS

“Just because something isn’t practical doesn’t mean it’s not worth creating. Sometimes beauty and real-life magic are enough.”

Lola’s life is going almost exactly how she wants it to, if only her parents would approve of her hot older boyfriend. Lola thinks they might finally be making progress, until her old neighbours move back in again. Calliope is just as beautiful as ever, but Cricket is the real problem. There are some crushes you just can’t get over.

A fantastic follow-up to Anna and the French Kiss. This book manages to incorporate the characters from the previous novel seamlessly while introducing our new leading lady. It works well both as a sequel or a standalone novel, a feat many books claim but few actually achieve.

There is so much to love in this book. It’s fluffy and sharp at the same time. There are so many cute moments, and just as many crushing ones. The relationship between Cricket and his twin Calliope, despite not being the main focus, is incredibly interesting. Anna and St. Clair’s frequent appearances were a bonus. They never overpower Lola’s narrative but it’s nice to see their story continue on.

The characters do feel a bit eccentric. Each character seems to have a certain quirk that dominates them, but Perkins makes it work. So often eccentric characters are left feeling flat and weird. Perkins makes sure that while Lola’s obsession with costume is ever present, it’s only a part of who she is. It helps her develop as a character without becoming the only trait that she has.

The one issue I had with this book is that I felt like several of the characters weren’t great people. Lola’s parents are overprotective, they both fall under the aggressively protective dad umbrella. Lola is seventeen and given very little freedom with her boyfriend, Max. Max, however, is also pretty rotten. He’s aggressive, rude, often tries to isolate Lola and make her feel guilty. He edges just on classic abuser. He’s also fairly brooding and at twenty-three he has no excuse. In Max’s case this is fantastic, readers aren’t meant to root for Max, but in Lola’s parents case it’s a bit of a disappointment.

Lola herself, at first, is a bit unlikable. She’s desperate to hold onto Max even when she wants another boy. She willingly tosses her best friend aside for a boy, but she’s seventeen and that’s just sort of what teenagers do. The best part is that she grows up. Lola learns from her mistakes and becomes a better person and there is nothing more satisfying than watching a character realize what they’ve done and build themselves back up. I also adored the relationship she had with her mother. Lola’s mother is textbook bad mom, but Perkins gives her depth. Lola’s mum grows up just as much as Lola does throughout the novel.

This book is as much about Lola finding herself as it is about her finding love. She starts out as a character that is unique, but not someone readers entirely want to root for. She makes mistakes that will make readers cringe, and then grows stronger from them.

A fantastic continuation of the first novel’s story with an entirely new couple to fall in love with.

BUY THE BOOK

Read this if you’re a fan of: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

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