384 pp. Dutton Books (Penguin Group)
Released on September 29, 2011
Source: Won an ARC through a blog giveaway
Summary (From Goodreads): 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.
I need to admit something before I write this review: I’ve never read Anna and the French Kiss. I feel like I should be hanging my head in shame because it seems like everyone and their grandma has read that book. I have two copies of it in my classroom and I started reading it over the summer, but for some reason I stopped. And never picked it back up. Then I kept seeing the buzz for Lola and the Boy Next Door all over Twitter and won a copy, so I figured, okay I’ll give it a shot. That was last night and I finished it this morning. I have so much love for this book!
Lola and the Boy Next Door is awesome and lives up to the hype I kept hearing and reading. I was up until almost 3am reading this book and I didn’t want to stop. It’s been months since a book has kept me up that late. I forced myself to set the book down so I could sleep for a few hours before picking it up again and finishing it. I do need to mention that Lola’s story is a companion to Anna and the French Kiss, but even though I now know how that book ends, I was fine reading Lola and the Boy Next Door first. Also, I’ll be sure to finish Anna’s story very soon.
One of the first things I liked about this novel is that Lola starts off speaking about some wishes she has and one of them is that she wishes her parents would like her boyfriend. As she goes on, she mentions her dad and her other dad. It took me a minute to figure out that she has gay parents. Perkins did a wonderful job creating this element of Lola’s life without making it a big focus in the story. It’s completely natural and accepted; her dads are protective, loving, and funny. It makes me happy to see this in YA because it should be in YA, especially the way Perkins infuses it into the story without making a big fuss about it.
I enjoyed reading Lola’s dads, Andy and Nathan, but I adored Lola. She’s quirky and creative while trying to be mature and older than she is. She loves expressing herself by dressing in costume, which reminded me a little of Cyd Charrise, Rachel Cohn’s main character in the Cyd Charrise series. Not every girl will connect with this part of Lola’s character, but they will connect with how she still sometimes worries about what other people think of her. She’s dating a much older guy, which adds an interesting spin to the story because Lola not only focuses on their relationship, but she also worries that she isn’t mature enough for him. Add to the fact that her boyfriend is a musician that travels and isn’t loved by her parents, and you have a strong story element to go along with the arrival of Cricket.
Lola is on uneven ground with her current relationship, so Cricket and Calliope moving in next door (again) only makes matters worse because of her history with them. This is where I had one issue because Lola mentions problems she had with Calliope when they first lived next door, but those problems are never really explained. Granted, it’s not a focal point in the story, but I would have liked to have known more about them. Cricket and Lola were close friends until something happened that broke Lola’s heart and he and his family moved away. With his reappearance, Lola isn’t sure anymore about her feelings for him or her boyfriend.
Perkins did a wonderful job writing Lola because I often felt the same way she did. At times I was rooting for her to stay with her boyfriend, but once I got to know Cricket, I kept wanting her to dump her boyfriend and move on. Cricket is in his freshmen year of college, but often comes home to help out and be with his family. He’s an inventor and on the cool side of nerdy, which I love. Plus, he loves Lola for who she is, crazy outfits and wigs and all. Cricket is adorable, smart, honest and an all-around good guy.
Lola and the Boy Next Door is about Lola deciding between two guys, but it’s also about Lola figuring out who she is and if she’s okay with who she is. It’s about her forming stronger friendships and relationships with her family. It’s also about first love and what that really is. I laughed, swooned and even teared up while reading. I hope you’re able to get a copy pronto!