Also by this author: Anna and the French Kiss, Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3), There's Someone Inside Your House
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #2
Also in this series: Anna and the French Kiss, Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3)
Published by Speak on September 29th 2011
Genres: Contemporary, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 275 •Format: Paperback •Source: Purchased
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 negihborhood. 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.Review"Step back--it's going to fly off the shelves."--School Library Journal"A delectable companion to [Perkins's] debut hit, Anna and the French Kiss."--Kirkus Reviews"Snappy dialogue...a lively romance."--Publishers WeeklyAbout the AuthorStephanie Perkins (www.stephanieperkins.com) lives in the mountains of North Carolina with her husband.
Companion series are my new favorite thing. I love the idea of being able to have distinct, separate stories set within the same universe, and being able to see glimpses of characters from other books in them. It’s like getting to wave to a friend you haven’t seen in a while but miss terribly. Lola and the Boy Next Door is the second installment in Stephanie Perkin’s Anna and the French Kiss companion series, and it did indeed have the unique charm of introducing me to new memorable characters while allowing me to stay updated in Anna and Étienne’s life. If I was able to vote for the next trend in YA, it would be more companion series.
So if you’ve read Anna, you know that Stephanie Perkins is a master at writing fun, fluffy romances that take place in really awesome locations to read about. Lola is no exception. Right off the bat I was drawn to this book by the fact that is takes place in San Francisco, one of my favorite cities to visit! I feel like there aren’t nearly as many YA stories that take place in SF compared to the East Coast or even Southern California, so I loved that Perkins had a novel set in the iconic city. I also loved that Lola was just a perfect character to be born and raised in San Francisco, as she’s literally bursting at the seams with creativity, and I loved reading about all of her “costumes.” Fashion is depicted in this novel as an art, just as film is in Anna, and I love that Perkins gives her characters more unique forms of self expression. Lola also had two dads that were very present parents (almost overbearingly so) which made this book feel SO realistic, because who DIDN’T have their parents breathing down their necks about who they were dating and where they were going in high school? Everything about the setting, atmosphere, and family structures in this novel were spot-on for me as a reader.
Yet what tore me away from giving this book the five star rating that I had been hoping for? The romance. It didn’t work for me, and I’m so sad about that. This was partially due to the fact that Lola really annoyed me at some points, despite the fact that I loved her flamboyancy and self-expression. She came off as really immature at times, from her justifications for her boyfriend Max’s rude attitude to her destructive tantrums she had when she was upset (like that scene at the end where she just destroys something she worked so hard on in a fit of drama). I felt that even by the end of the novel she had yet to show substantial growth, as she put a lot of stock in what others thought of her habit of making and wearing costumes (I really wanted to see her rock that wig). Cricket, on the other hand, often irritated me with his completely submissive behavior, and unresolved angst over his great-great-grandfather’s less than honest behavior (he’s related to that Alexander Graham Bell). I was often disgusted by how often he was railroaded by his sister and took a backseat his whole life to her, and though he at least showed some growth by the end of the novel, I wasn’t convinced that he was truly out of Calliope’s shadow. Despite the fact that at times there were both things I really enjoyed about Cricket and Lola, I couldn’t enjoy them together, especially once you realize a lot of their relationship hinges on the dreaded “it was all a big misunderstanding” trope. There’s also no slow-burn romance like in Anna, and the romance starts very early on in the book, and while I knew the inevitable (the book is called Lola and the Boy Next Door, after all), I never really felt any passion between the characters. I will admit this may partially be due to my own bias, since I’ve never been a big fan of the friends-turned-lovers trope.
Romance issues aside though, I really liked how Stephanie Perkins added other elements into the story that kept me wanting to know the outcome for the characters, such as Lola’s tenuous relationship with her biological mother and more glimpses into Anna and Étienne’s lives. I actually think the love triangle in the book is well balanced, because though Max is painted to be a jerk (at the end) there are still elements of him that I could respect, such as his loyalty to Lola, especially with respect to her discomfort with her issues with her biological parents. In fact, he seems like a decent guy (aside from the large age gap) until Cricket comes onto the scene, and it felt like he sort of conveniently turned into a jerk, making it easier for readers to vote for Cricket. I would’ve liked to see less of a drastic comparison between good guy Cricket and “bad guy” Max and how Lola handled the decision between the two of them, as choices are not always black and white in real life, especially when it comes to relationships.
Again, though, there are so many little things in this book to love! From Andy’s pie baking company to Lola’s BFF’s obsession with all things snooping to delivering pies to snotty parties on Lombard street to afternoons at the Japanese Tea Garden. Perkins has a gift for writing stories set in famous locations and transporting readers there in the details, which is why I find myself returning to her writing.
Overall: Lola is a fun second addition to the Anna and the French Kiss companion series, with wonderfully descriptive writing that makes the city and Lola’s costumes jump off the page. Cricket and Lola are cute if a tad boring and predictable, and if there romance doesn’t impress you there’s a fun cast of other characters to keep you reading (especially Anna cameos!). I was underwhelmed by this installment compared to Anna, but it just bubbles along so pleasantly I had no problem finishing it. My main complaint is Lola’s immaturity, but her eccentric behavior does have its own appeal. It’s definitely a must read if you love San Francisco!
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- Goodreads Challenge