4.5 Stars. Contemporary YA
Stephanie Perkins made a fan out of me with Anna and the French Kiss it was an unexpected treat how much I liked that story, so it was with lots of excitement that I finally sat down to read Lola's story. Right away it had what I've come to consider Perkins's trademark sense of humour and quirky characters. But the overall feel of Lola was very different when compared to Anna's story. Apart from the fact that Anna was set in Paris, Lola is a story unto itself about a girl who is trying to find her place in a world that doesn't always allow people to be different.
Right away I admired Lola's flair for the odd, or dramatic or quirky or just fun. She had a trademark style all her own and didn't compromise that style for anyone. It made her different, it made her stand out, it made her LOLA. I really liked her character, although I did have a tiny annoyance with the fact that it took her so long to see through the BS of some of the people - namely one - in her life.
Cricket was a treat, sensitive, equally quirky as Lola, although in a different way, long lean and sweet as sugar pie. He was the perfect boy to lift Lola up and let her be the star she is. I think the thing I may have loved most about Cricket was the fact that he wasn't suave. He's not calculatingly charming, he doesn't know how good looking he is, in fact he seemed rather oblivious to the fact that he was a hottie! He only had eyes for Lola and wasn't afraid to put himself out there and declare his feelings, especially worried about letting a good thing pass him by twice.
I loved the progression of their rekindled friendship that then slowly moved into something deeper and more real. Lola and Cricket complimented one another perfectly and I really enjoyed their interactions as they went from awkward, to timid, to friendly, to reliant, to caring, to love.
It was a great surprise to see Anna and Etienne make cameo appearances through out the story and nice to see where they are in their lives now. I hope Lola and Cricket will get to be a part of Isla's story.
The only thing I have to say that nagged at me just a smidge while reading is that because readers know that Lola and Cricket have had a past, that they have known each other since they were little and that Lola used to care quite a bit for Cricket, it made it difficult in the present as they are reconnecting to really truly believe that Cricket loves Lola so much. It may sound weird, but for the most part Lola is in a dark place in her life when Cricket returns. She is going through a lot and although he's there to support her and help her through it, readers only see THIS Lola, so it was hard sometimes to see why Cricket would have fallen for her - what was it about Lola that made her so special to Cricket, so desirable. The way he acted was brilliant and heartfelt, but I had a moment or two of wondering how he could be so devoted to a girl who was so mixed up for the most part. She had her moments of meanness and uncertainty and insecurity and it wasn't always attractive. This was probably my only negative about the book - but it wasn't even a big one, not enough to dampen my overall enjoyment.
Lola and the Boy Next Door is a must read for Stephanie Perkins fans and a great companion book for all those who loved Anna and the French Kiss It made me want to visit Paris all over again!