"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."
Before I begin, I must clarify that Stephanie Perkins's work is absolutely amazing. If you have not read Anna and the French Kiss, there's no better day than today. It will blow you away. My review for Anna can be found here.
During November, I've been taking part in NaNoWriMo and promised not to read until I hit my goal of 50,000 words or the first of December (whatever came first). A friend of mine, Katie, was reading Lola and the Boy Next Door. After some predicted fan girl-ing over the book, Katie promised to let me read it when she finished. When she brought it to school on Monday and offered to let me read it, I was heartbroken I couldn't start right away. Thankfully, Katie told me to carry the novel around until I could. I didn't make it to my first classroom before I cracked open the book and started reading as I walked.
I had extremely high expectations for this novel and they were met. However, they were not exceeded. Lola, the protagonist, and the entire story was flamboyant in the best possible way just as Anna and the French Kiss was. I, however, related much more to Anna in the underlying themes that the novels individually covered. In example, I can connect to Anna's struggle with undergoing a move, a boarding school situation (dance intensives), and making friends similar to Anna's. I, personally, haven't lived most of the factors that create Lola's life. Lola and the Boy Next Door could possibly be another reader's favorite out of the two.
Possibly because I've been writing just under 2000 words a day, I saw a lot of more of the writer, Stephanie Perkins, through the words. In my experience romance and friendship are an individual and very personal journey. Some authors are able to capture that chemistry and some do not. Perhaps because I was better connected to Anna, I felt the romance between Anna and St. Clair was believable and undeniable. Lola and Cricket made a good couple, but I didn't relate or feel captured in the romance until the story started exploring how they were currently interacting rather than telling the back story.
In fact, the flashbacks and back story were difficult for me to follow and felt poorly connected to the rest of the novel. Instances such as the star connection did not feel as romantic as what seemed possible because they were so sudden. I do think Lola had the opportunity to be a masterpiece, but while Stephanie Perkins had more time to think, write, and redraft Anna, I imagine she had less to focus on Lola.
With all that said, everyone should read both Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door. These novels are amazing. Most of the negativity I'm displaying in this review stems from the fact that I expected the stars (pun intended). I loved this novel.