Review - Lola and the Boy Next Door - Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss, #2)Title: Lola and the Boy Next Door 
Series: N/A
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication: September 28th 2011, Dutton
Pages: 338 Pages, Paperback
Source: My Own
Rating: 5/5 CUPCAKES!
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.
After reading, and falling in love, with Anna and the French Kiss, I knew I absolutely had to read Lola and the Boy Next Door afterwards. I bought it on my Kindle and soon after beginning the first page, I was already sucked into Perkins' beautifully crafted world and amazed at the array of extraordinary characters that I was meeting.

Lola and the Boy Next Door is about Lola, lover of fashion designing and dressing up. The more colourful, crazy and fun the costume is - the better! Everything is going well for Lola, she has the perfect idea for a dress to wear to her school dance and she has a sexy rocker boyfriend, Max, and the hurt she has felt caused by the departure of the Bell family has subsided and buried deep inside. However, when the unexpected arrival of the new next-door neighbours occurs, Lola's world is turned upside down. One of the new next door neighbours happens to be the first boy Lola fell in love with...and the first one to break her heart. All the emotions come to the surface again, the heartbreak, the betrayal...and the lingering feeling of being in love, yet Lola knows he is off limits. He broke her heart and besides, she has Max...but with his mega-watt smile and sweet words, Lola can't help but fall in love with the boy next door all over again.

I absolutely adored this book. At first I was worried that it wouldn't live up to my expectations, but it did, and in fact it exceeded them. When I first started LatBND, I thought I wasn't going to love it, that I was going to just merely "like" it...yet by the end, I had a smile plastered on my face, my heart was fuzzy and I had tears in my eyes. I once again crown Stephanie Perkins the goddess of contemporary writing.

The characters are absolutely flawless. I fell in love with them just like I did with the ones in Anna and the French Kiss. I love how Stephanie informs us of these little oddities that the characters acquire and the different quirks in their personalities. She gives us the complete insight into the inner workings of each of the characters' brains. Whether it be Cricket's, the boy next door, bracelets on his arms as well as the new drawings he puts on his arm every day, or the notes he tapes to his window for Lola to read when she wakes up in the morning. Then there's Lola with her love for costume designing and dressing completely different each and every day to her interesting, slightly different family...they're just all so imperfectly perfectly constructed it makes me marvel every time I think of Perkins' books/characters/writing.

Lola is such a fantastic and interesting character to read about. I was completely intrigued by her whole personality! The fact that she designs and makes her own clothes, as well as dressing up in crazy, colourful clothes every day, (her New Years resolution being to not dress in the same outfit twice) decked out in a wig and all, I found extremely interesting. I love the way she channels her creativity, frustration, happiness, whatever emotion she is feeling, into her designs. At first I was weary that she was going to be a rebellious, hardcore teenager but for the most part, she was a good girl. She doesn't drink, smoke, swear or do drugs and it was a refreshing change from other characters that I generally read about. There were a lot of times during this book that I felt sorry for Lola. A lot of people said she was a liar and a fake just for dressing up and that she was insecure and hiding beneath a costume, but dressing up was just part of being Lola. I also felt bad for Lola, as she feels ashamed of where she actually comes from and she once viewed herself as street-side trash, because of her mom giving her to her gay brother to raise, so she could continue doing drugs and living on the street, as she wouldn't be able to look after Lola. You can see that underneath, Lola feels a little bit insecure and unwanted which is understandable, but don't get me wrong, she is very grateful to live with her two dads, Nathan and Andy and you can see she loves them. I love Lola though, she's a very sweet character.

Cricket Bell. I LOVED him! Due to how Lola told us how heartbroken she was because of him I began the book expecting to hate him, but once I was introduced to Cricket, I was a goner. He's got this enthusiastic personality and this happiness with him all the time that he just can't control. Whenever there was a scene with him, there was always something he said that made me smile. He was so polite and innocent and a good guy, and I loved that. Sometimes I need a break from the bad boys. I love the inventions he made as well, especially that last one, which made me tear up as it was just so beautifully described and it added meaning to the story. I thought, after finishing Anna and the French Kiss, that Stephanie Perkins couldn't create another perfect boy for us readers to fall in love with, but alas, she did. I absolutely adore Cricket! He's just this sweet, awkward, geeky, extremely intelligent guy. I actually think I prefer Cricket over √ątienne, and I never thought I'd say that.

Max, Lola's boyfriend, I instantly disliked. I could tell Lola and Max's relationship seemed forced and that it wasn't natural. I don't think it was the age gap that was the problem, but Max just seemed to be using Lola and he seemed like a trouble maker. I could see the attraction between Lola and Cricket but not Lola and Max. Max was a complete and utter jerk, especially towards the end and I just knew he was just using Lola.

The supporting characters were just as fantastic. I absolutely adored Lindsey, Lola's best friend, I loved her whole character and how she wanted to be a detective and had all the Nancy Drew novels in her possession. She was kind and sweet and I love that she is into detective stuff as it adds more to the story. Stephanie Perkins is brilliant with letting us familiarise ourselves with the characters and giving us an in depth look at their personalities.

Caliope, Cricket's twin sister, was also an interesting character. At first I didn't like her at all, but soon my dislike for her faded away and I saw the deep concern she felt for her brother, as well as the fear of losing him as her best friend. I understood Caliope's fear. She was so used to having Cricket to herself, and him being her best friend, the thought of him having Lola too terrified her. I was glad how things worked out in the end, however, and I think there is still hope for Lola and Caliope to repair their damaged friendship.

Nathan and Andy, Lola's dads, were fantastic characters as well. I generally don't read LGBT books, but I think it worked well in Lola And The Boy Next Door! You could clearly see the bond that they shared with her and the good life they had provided her with, Nathan is the stricter one of the two and Andy is the more sensitive one that has personal conversations with Lola. I think they were both fantastic characters, although at times I found that they were a bit hard on Lola, but they love her and want the best for her so it's perfectly understandable.

Even Norah, Lola's birth mother, and Nathan's sister, added more to the story. I could see the resentment, anger, bitterness and embarrassment that Lola felt towards Norah and I hope for Lola's sake that Norah will clean up a bit and be a woman that Lola can be proud of. There was a sweet moment exchanged between the two and I felt so extremely happy for Lola at that moment.

I loved this story, I absolutely fell in love with it. The ending made me so extremely happy and I was a weeping and smiling during the last few chapters.

Lola and the Boy Next Door made me feels such an abundance of emotions. Heartbreak, hope, joy, anger, resentment, was a novel that made me laugh in all the right places and wiping away tears at other times, too. I love the way Stephanie Perkins writes. Her books are outrageously fun, her words are magical and her characters feel like your best friend. Lola and the Boy Next Door was a charming read that held depth to it. Showing us the sheer bliss of falling in love and the sadness and heartache of having your heart broken. The friendship and relationship between Lola and Cricket, was sensitive, gentle and sweet and I adored reading about them! I couldn't put this book down, it was an emotional, humorous, magical read that will stay with you long after the story has ended.

I give it: 5/5 CUPCAKES!