Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door, Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door

Stephanie Perkins

Dutton, 2011

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.

My housemate is hammering on the door to the bathroom because she thinks I've fallen asleep in a foot of lukewarm water (and she'd quite like to clean her teeth). But no - I'm just hooked on another Stephanie Perkins book.

Lola and the Boy Next Door takes place in San Francisco, one of my favourite cities. Lola is seventeen and lives with her dads in a cool, colourful Victorian house. She's going out with a hot boy in a band (Max) and she's looking forward to getting started on the construction of her Marie Antoinette dress for the school dance. Above all, Lola loves fashion and costume, and she never wears the same outfit twice. The only thing that can threaten Lola's happiness is the reappearance of the Bells, her old next door neighbours. And yes, that's them pulling up in the moving van. Enter Cricket and Calliope, twins and former friends of Lola's. Calliope is a champion ice skater, Cricket is an inventor (and former crush), and Lola would rather not see either of them ever again.

Once again, Perkins' writing was spot on. I was pulled into Lola's world from the beginning. The family scenes were integral to the book, which I liked, and her relationship with her dads was nice to see. I would have liked to seen a little bit more of Lola and Lindsey's friendship, but it was a lot of fun to get reacquainted with Anna and Etienne from Anna and the French Kiss (which I re-read and reviewed recently!). The three of them work together, and it was nice to see how Anna and Lola's friendship developed, as well as see Anna and Etienne through someone else's eyes.

Lola is a very vibrant character, and it was a shame to see how she changed around Max, yet I felt like her staying with him was totally believable at the same time, even when she was agonising over her feelings for Cricket. And Cricket is a pretty cool guy. I loved that he and Lola could talk to each other through their windows, and it was sweet to see them reclaiming their friendship gradually (even if they did misunderstand each other a lot of the time!). I don't think anyone is better than Stephanie Perkins at really nailing the little details of attraction, and it was fun to see Lola (and Cricket) coming to terms with it and struggling to hold it all in.

And I am all about combat boots with a dress. Every time.

Overall rating: 9/10

Book source: Bought from the Book Depository.

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