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. (summary from Goodreads)
Another perfectly quirky and utterly swoonworthy story of love, friendship and being true to yourself from the author of the much adored Anna and the French Kiss! This is a must read - so get it, right now!
Lola Nolan wears a new outfit every day, each a unique and expressive costume. She's happy with the way her life is right now. Her relationship with rocker boyfriend Max is pretty serious - despite how unimpressed her Dads are with his being 22 and having no future ambition beyond his music - and she has plans to make her own huge dress, ala Marie Antoinette, for the upcoming school dance. Nothing can go wrong. Until a moving truck shows up outside the house next door - and it isn't new rentals moving in like Lola hoped, but the Bell family returning after years away. For Lola that means facing the Bell twins - Calliope, figure skating extraordinaire, and Cricket, a shy inventor. Two years ago something big happened between Lola and the twins and she wants nothing more than to avoid them. But with Cricket's window directly opposite hers, it's not so easy. Especially as he seems intent on rekindling a relationship with her. Drawn to this taller and more confident Cricket, Lola can't help but question her feelings for him, as well as those she has for Max. Max is the one, right? Or has she always been in love with the boy next door?
I was so excited to win a copy of Lola, and as soon as it arrived I started reading, not putting it down until I'd finished sometime in the early hours of the morning. Perkins is brilliant at creating realistic characters that you instantly connect with. And not just her main characters, but the supporting cast too. I feel like I've gotten to know each and every one of Lola's characters, and I mostly love them all. The personalities Perkins creates seem to leap off of the page, each clearly distinguishable and so colourful - none more so than Lola. I loved Lola right from the first page, and I'm sure you will too. She appears confident and sure of who she is, and for the most part that's true. However throughout the novel Lola doubts everything she thinks she knows and this only endeared her to me even more. Her costumes are perfectly put together in order to make a statement - it's not about fashion, but the stories they tell. I adored how the costumes were so Lola, an actual part of her, not just something for her to hide behind as some mistakenly believe. In much the same way, Cricket's inventions are inherently him, and like Lola's costumes, so much more than a hobby. I love this about Perkins' characters, that there's something they're so into it becomes a part of who they are. It's so quirky, and fun, and completely believable.
What I truly enjoy about Perkins' novels is the relationships - they are key to Lola, and are what make it such an emotionally enjoyable read. There's a fair amount of history between Lola and Cricket which, despite the mounting tension, ultimately allows for an easy comfort during all of their interactions. Honestly, Lola and Cricket made me giddy they were so cute. It's been a while since I got so hooked on a couple that I wanted to squeal like a tween girl everytime they were together...which I did a lot, thanks to Lola and Cricket! Sometimes I find I can get impatient waiting for the moment when characters so obviously in love finally get together. While I was definitely desperate for that moment here, mostly I wished I could draw it out. Lola is perfectly paced, so that every moment only adds to the excitement of the last. I wish it had never ended, truthfully. It's not just Lola and Cricket's relationship either that will leave you smiling, or breathless, or even snarling a little. I adored every moment with Lola's dad's, Nathan and Andy. Their relationship - both as a couple, and with Lola - is solid in a way that is sometimes missing from novels today. I enjoyed the ways they played off each other and were always there for Lola. In much the same way, Lola's relationship with best friend Lindsey is guaranteed to make you smile. They had a real honesty between them that was touching to read. The same can't quite be said about Lola and Max, but jeez the tension between them was palpable! I can't say I'm the biggest fan of Max overall, but their scenes just kept building until I was literally fearing the explosion! Another great relationship was also that between Cricket and his twin sister, Calliope. Calliope may have only had a small number of appearances, but they resonate, especially through Cricket, and it's easy to figure out her feelings and motivations. While each character is unique and stand out in some way, their interactions and feelings for each other are what make Lola and the Boy Next Door fabulous and a book you won't be able to put down.
Of course, there is one other couple I absolutely cannot forget to mention, one I was so very happy to reconnect with. Yep! Anna and Etienne! Reading other reviews of Lola, I knew they made an appearance, but in actuality it's so much more than that. Anna and Etienne are a big part of this story, as friends of both Lola and Cricket. It was amazing to see how their relationship is developing after Anna and the French Kiss, and if you were a fan, you don't want to miss them here. They are still as cute as ever, and Etienne still makes me swoon. Though I tell you what, I am just that tiny, tiny, tiny bit more infatuated with Cricket. I don't know if I can quite explain it...just Cricket has a more quirky quality to him that appeals to me. But I will always adore Etienne none the less!
Overall, Lola and the Boy Next Door is a fun and unique read you don't want to miss, especially if you loved Anna and the French Kiss. It's been a while since I've read Anna (I'm definitely due a re-read!) but as it stands, I enjoyed Lola even more. I loved every character and every moment fiercly, and I can't wait for Isla and the Happily Ever After. As Anna and Etienne were so much a part of Lola, I reckon we can hope for more of the same with Lola and Cricket in Isla, yeah?
Published date: 29 September 2011
Challenges: 2011 YA Contemporary Challenge; Vacation Reads - San Francisco: Definitely a place to vacation! I'd love to see the houses like the one's Lola and Cricket live in.