Author: Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss Companion trilogy Book 2
Read the review for Book 1, Anna and the French Kiss, first
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Usborne Publishing
Visit Lola and the Boy Next Door‘s goodreads page here
SYNOPSIS: “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?”
DISCLAIMER: The review may contain minor spoilers, so read at your own risk.
I was promised by almost every Stephanie Perkins fan that Lola and the Boy Next Door is the best in the trilogy, but to be honest, I left feeling underwhelmed and disappointed. I feel like all the hype surrounding this story definitely altered my opinions, and possibly made the standard that I expected higher than warranted. The comparison to Anna was inevitable, but I feel like they are on completely different ends of the contemporary scale. Where Anna’s story is a lighthearted romance, Lola’s is more focused on self-discovery and how a partner may cause more hurt than love.
the main premise of this novel surrounds the relationship between Lola and her past neighbours, the Bell Family. The family lived there while Lola was younger and made friends with the youngest children, twins named Cricket and Calliope, who unfortunately had a major disagreement prior to them moving for Calliopes sporting career. When they move back in Lola and her family need to readjust their quiet life, all while maintaining their own problems ranging from jealous and demanding punk rock boyfriends to Lola’s deranged biological parents needing some help. Cricket becomes somewhat of a safety blanket for Lola, which surprises her enormously and makes her question her romantic relationship with Max, the punk rock boyfriend previously mentioned. However, she has to overcome her fears and recover from the hurt and pain he caused in the path before she can move on with either of them.
Lola was an incredibly interesting character, to say the least. I found it extremely difficult to relate to her because as Max beautifully said, she was a different person every time he saw her. I’m all about individuality and dressing in what makes you comfortable, but I found her fashion sense a little over the top and she hid behind her outrageous facades frequently. I also found her overall attitude extremely annoying and she acted like a spoiled brat. The amount of small white lies she told to not only her boyfriend but to her parents was extremely uncalled for and was the stem of most of her major conflicts. The way she treated Max was like utter shit, and honestly, I’m surprised that he even stuck around because she was far too immature to handle their situation. What annoyed me most of all was the fact that she leads Cricket on even though she had no intention of leaving Max, which once again, proves her immaturity.
With that all being said, the amount of character development she went through was a great feat. Her attitude towards both her fathers and biological mother definitely took an 180° turn, which really redeemed herself in my eyes. At the beginning, she didn’t want anything to do with her mother and hated her fathers for letting her stay in their house when she lost her apartment. So at the end when she finally realised that she was so lucky to have so many people in her life that love and protect her was beautiful. She learnt not to resent her mother’s past as she realised that her relationship with Max was similar. She also learnt not to hate her fathers as she wasn’t aware of the entire situation and the deciding factors.
Sweet little Cricket was far too pure for Lola and I didn’t feel the same connection between them as I did with Anna and Étienne. I felt that their relationship was far to fabricated and forced so at times their conversations where more cringy than heartwarming. To me, they were from completely different worlds, with Lola being the extroverted girl who was incredibly interested in fashion design and self-image, whereas Cricket was dorky and shy who could make any machine imaginable with his creative thinking and focus on rare inventions.
My absolute favourite aspect of this novel was the fact that there was so much diversity within the characters. Lola has same-sex parents which is an extremely rare trope in YA literature. For a child to have two fathers, without them being so stereotypically gay, is unheard of yet Perkins managed it beautifully. They weren’t overly flamboyant nor had the typical mannerisms and hobbies that are associated with homosexual men. The pair were definitely lacking complexity overall, however, I am thankful they didn’t go down the path so many LGBTQ+ characters seem to navigate. Also, I just want to chuck a nod towards Lola’s friend Lindsay and her family. From the way her parents were introduced, it seemed that they indeed cherished and embraced their Asian heritage. However, I was happy to actually meet her father and to find out that he wasn’t one of those stereotypes that only speak in broken English and struggle to hold a basic conversation. This representation of a severely overlooked section of the American population was a refreshing addition to the overall story, which I absolutely adored.
So overall the story was short and sweet, but I had some problems with the main couple Cricket and Lola. Their relationship lacked the spark that was so addicting in Anna and the French Kiss, yet it had its own sense of identity and purpose. Lola’s story was more focused on self-discovery and reflection which was pleasantly surprising and refreshing. I definitely recommend this book as a follow-up to Anna, as it had small cameos from students at SOAP. After finishing this, I can’t wait to jump straight into Isla and to see how she compares to the others!
How did this book compare to the others, and do you agree with my opinions? Leave me a comment down below and see you next time!