I was with a friend when I received Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins in the mail. Last year, I recommended Anna and the French Kiss to her, and she loved it. When I ripped open the envelope and we peered down at the cover of Lola, she begged me for the book. I said No (obviously). (Actual words were: “HELL NO, and you’re crazy if you think you’re reading this book first,” but who’s checking?)
We ended up reading the book together until she had to leave (which was super frustrating because I read like, ten times faster).
Lola and the Boy Next Door is the first companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss, and it has all the captivating charm of the first book. There is nothing I didn’t love about this book: what Lola wears, her gay dads, her spy/detective-wannabe best friend Lindsey, the tour of San Francisco, even Lola’s sometimes-addict mother who drifts in and out of her life.
The book opens with budding fashion designer Lola’s life being upended by the return of Bell twins to her neighborhood―right into the Victorian house next to hers. Their homecoming is an event Lola has been dreading ever since she had a falling out with Cricket Bell, the boy next door.
Lola spends much of the book emotionally tailspinning from the sudden reappearance of both Cricket and her mother, but I never found it overdone or unrelateable―that’s how amazing Stephanie Perkins is. If I told Lola’s story to a friend, or if I met someone like Lola in person, I might think she was a drama queen. But being in her mind, reading her narration, got me so caught up in the book that her reactions seemed not only plausible, but inevitable, like what else are you gonna do in this moment? I felt for Lola pretty much every step of the way, even when it came to her rocker boyfriend Max, who’s all inked arms and bad attitude, and actually very musically talented. Even though it was pretty clear from the get-go that Max isn’t a great boyfriend at all (the inappropriateness of him being 22 to Lola’s 16 aside), I could still see why Lola was so infatuated with Max.
Though Lola is a complete standalone from the first book, old favorites Anna and our beloved St. Clair (swoon, swoon, SWOON) make cameos. After reading Lola, I’d have to say that personally, I related to Anna more, but Cricket is the boy I love. He’s the nicest boy you’ll ever meet―and probably have already met, because he’s so real, too.
Nice boys don’t finish last. In fact, the nice boy gets the girl. The nice boy has a bedroom like a Rube Goldberg machine, and he invents things for you. His bedroom is also conveniently, wonderfully located directly across from yours. The nice boy is the one who makes you laugh, checks to see your reaction, and his eyes light up if you do crack a smile. Is it any wonder that Lola fell for the boy next door? About twenty pages after Cricket shows up in person, I was in love with him, too.
Lola and the Boy Next Door is a book to stand in line for, devour in less than 24-hours, and then share with all your friends. It’s not as laugh-out-loud funny as Anna―mostly because of the different narrative voice―but this is still a book that makes you smile, and you’ll immediately reread it because you won’t want to let these characters go.
The next (and supposedly final, but I really hope not!) companion novel, Isla and the Happily Ever After, comes out Fall 2012.
Lee likes all things spy, smelling books, and is almost always craving a cheeseburger. She tweets from @lkyim about reading books NOT assigned for class. Also she likes Greek mythology. And dogs.