Title: Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss #2)
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Release Date: September 28th, 2011
Page Count: 368
First Reaction: I love and hate this book all at once I don't even know how that's possible.
Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the 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 Source: Goodreads]
Lola is this costume designing, eccentric, quirky movie theater employee and high school student. She has a boyfriend, disapproving dads, and is pretty friendly with Anna, her co-worker, and Etienne St. Clair, her co-worker's boyfriend (you may or may not remember them from somewhere). All is status quo until the Bells move back into their house next door. See, Cricket Bell was Lola's friend (and possibly something more) a few years earlier, but then bad things happened and, well, let's just say Lola's less than thrilled re: Cricket's return. But Cricket's not one to be deterred and Lola can't quite get over the old possibly-something-more, despite the fact that she has a boyfriend. *cue dramatic music*
A lot of love with a bunch of hate thrown in:
This book is kind of a mixed bag for me.
It's the kind of book I totally devoured, couldn't put it down, absolutely needed to know what's next... but I was a big emotional, vaguely angry mess throughout.
All of this is hard for me to explain because I've never had this happened to me before. I'm not even totally sure what happened to me or even how I feel about this book. But I think, since so many people were confused about my reaction, I need to write something to explain myself.
I obviously loved Cricket (especially since this book was also about his issues with his sister and stepping into his own just as much as it was about Lola and her sorting out her life and such) and Lola was just perfectly quirky. I liked Lola's dads, her best friend, and I melted all over the rather sizable role Anna and St. Clair played in the book. All of these characters were just ace. I also really liked the boy Lola was dating at the beginning of the book. I mean, he's no Cricket, but he wasn't a bad guy. He was perfectly nice and a totally respectable guy, despite what Lola's dad thoughts of him.
And I think that's part of what my upset is. Because Lola's boyfriend was fine. He's nice, he cared about Lola, and maybe he's not the most impressive human being in the world or the perfect match for Lola, but what Lola did to him was not very nice. Like, once her and Cricket cleared up everything from their past, they basically play footsie until they get together. Now, that's not cheating in the classic sense of the world, but Lola basically checked out of her relationship with her boyfriend when Cricket came back and then lied to him non-stop because... she didn't want to break up with him even though she wanted to be with Cricket? I mean, I get that she was a little scared, but this is kind of a love triangle and it kind of made me hate Cricket and Lola (especially since they both behave cheating-ly despite Lola's lack of romantic availability).
Oh, and I spent a lot of this book mad at Cricket for being such a boy. Though, I guess he is a boy, so that's pretty realistic. And true to all of the experiences I've ever had in my life. But I digress.
So that kind of infuriated me. But I really loved everything else about this book. Especially the past drama between Lola and Cricket. I won't say what the drama is (because: spoilers) but it was convoluted and complex while all the while being bizarrely simple. It was just a series of misunderstandings and lack of communication and, as someone who's been through that before, this book really hit a personal note for me. And it was a really, really good reminder that such things can happen and not everyone is out to upset me or make me mad, y'know?
Anyway, I hope that explains my feelings on the book. I really did love this book and Lola (her quirkiness is phenomenal) and Cricket (sa-woon for sure - build me a cute trinket, please). But I also kind of hate it. I will say this, to clarify a bit more: It's on the list of books I'd re-read if I had the time. So it's more love than hate, I suppose.
PS: I also cried a bunch during this book. Probably during strange moments no one else cried during. More signs that my brain is broken and you should all still read this despite the bits of hate I feel towards this book.
The long and short of it?
Plot: Swoonily quirky although a bit more triangular than I'd like.
World Building: Solid and sweet.
Character Development: Cricket, Lola and just about everyone else in this book grow by leaps and bounds throughout. I love them all so much. (Although Lola's ex does kind of take a nose-dive. I'll excuse him because he was basically cheated on.)
Prose: Just as swoonily quirky as the plot.
Would I Recommend This Book?: Did you love Anna and the French Kiss? Do you love realistic fiction? Yeah, go read this one. (But not unless you've read Anna and the French Kiss first, okay? You need to flail and squeal when Anna and St. Clair show up. You need to.)
So, are my feelings about this book as unpopular as I think they are? Or do you feel the same? Let me know in the comments below!