For some reason, I ordered and read Isla and the Happily Ever After before I read Lola. I know, I am not doing things in the right order there, am I? Maybe it’s because popular opinion has it that it’s the “worse” book of all the series? Worse being totally a bad word to choose, because that book was still fantastic. Or maybe it’s my consciousness knew this one would be the one I liked less? ANYHOW, I finally read all of that Stephanie Perkins series everyone loves. With moderation, because in my opinion, despite being very, very good, Lola was the weakest book of the trilogy.
SLOW BEGINNING, BUT AMAZING WORLD-BUILDING.
“There are some people in life that you can’t get over.”
In this series, Stephanie Perkins plays with clichés, but she does it WELL. She’s taking us to Paris, the most romantic city of lights with strolls next to the Seine in Anna and the French Kiss, and we find the décor again in Isla. In Lola though, we are in San Francisco, and once again she takes us in the vibrant, ecclectic city with the colorful houses and where there is just so many different people coming from everywhere. Clichés of cities, sure, and tropes, as well. Here we are deaing with the boy next door, that boy Lola saw every single day as she was growing up, that boy that was her best friend, that boy that went away. Wait. Does all of these apparently very common tropes make this a bad book? No, no, no, not at all. Stephanie Perkins certainly knows how to build on some very common places, common relationships you read about in every single book you meet, and make it completely hers, and that’s what the most incredible about this story, and the series as a whole.
“I don’t believe in fashion. I believe in costume. Life is too short to be same person every day.” ”
Know what makes a book really stand out? The world-building, if you’re talking about a fantasy book, sci-fi book, for instance. In contemporaries, it’s the characters that jump out of the page. Lola really did. With her personality, as complex as every teenager really is, yet original with her choices and her will to, every single day, become a new person by changing her clothes and putting on costumes. Lola stood out and she was a great main character, but she had her flaws, and ultimately this is what made this reading experience more painful than for the two other books in the series. Lola annoyed me. A LOT. She was so indecisive, she didn’t know what she wanted – which is perfectly normal sometimes, but during the whole book, it’s too much to handle, she was kind of unfair to her boy next door, Cricket. Despite these flaws though, she was still a good leading character and carried the story with her decisions -or lack thereof…-, her originality.
FAMILY? CHECK. CUTE LOVE INTEREST? DOUBLE CHECK.
“Nathan nods. “Have a good time. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” I hear Andy as I’m walking out the front door. “Honey, that threat doesn’t work when you’re gay.”
If there’s something I really enjoyed about Lola and The Boy Next Door, it’s the great, strong presence of the family. Everyone experiences teenagehood differently, but the most realistic experience is the one of the parents – single parent, tutor, obviously depending on everyone’s personal situation, but SOMEONE – being there and asking you who is that boy/girl and what are you doing and your parents having the awkward sex talk, wondering when you are coming home, etc etc. In that story, it’s the overprotective parents scenario, and if it can feel a bit overwhelming to read, at times, it felt really, REALISTIC. I liked to see both of Lola’s dads asking when Lola was coming home and being so, so worried. I loved her dads so, so much.
“What do you say to someone who is not the same and yet completely the same?”
If you’re into the boy next door trope, you should love this book. I am, and I absolutely loved the relationship, despite it having some flaws, a LOT of drama that could have been avoided, and some unnecessary hurt from both sides. I just love the different levels of feelings, the flashbacks and the confusion, the unresolved past and the blank space left for what’s going to become of their relationship. It is just WAY TOO CUTE and I smiled like a crazy person, because I couldn’t help myself.
NOT JUST A ROMANCE
“I know you aren’t perfect. But it’s a person’s imperfections that make them perfect for someone else.”
Strong messages aren’t always the strong suit of fluffy contemporary stories just like Lola and The Boy Next Door. It’s there to make you smile before anything. But there was something else here that made me enjoy the book more, and deserve its 4 stars despite Lola annoying me more than 100 times. It’s the message. It’s a story about being who you are, and people accepting you for it. No matter what costume you want to put on today, tomorrow, and the next months, and ever. It’s about people seeing you, the real you, under what they want to see and under the layers of clothes. And it was really, really good.
A colorful story, and not only because of Lola’s costumes. It’s a story about the boy next door, it’s a realistic teenagers’ love story, with its confusion and complications, with the parents being actually there asking and caring. It’s a story about being yourself, and finding the ones loving you for it, no less.
Final rating: 4 drops!
Did you read Lola and The boy next door? If you read the whole series, which book was your favorite?
Do you want to read the book / the whole series? Share your thoughts in comments!
Stephanie Perkins, Lola and the boy next door (Anna and The French Kiss #2), Published by Usborne Publishing (UK edition), 1st June 2014.
Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion… she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit – the more sparkly, more wild – the better. And life is pretty close to perfect for Lola, especially with her hot rocker boyfriend.
That is, until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket return to the neighbourhood and unearth a past of hurt that Lola thought was long buried. So when talented inventor Cricket steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally face up to a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door. Could the boy from Lola’s past be the love of her future?
Fall in love with the international bestseller from queen of young adult fiction, Stephanie Perkins.