Lola and the Boy Next Door
By Stephanie Perkins, read by Shannon McManus
Published 2011 by Listening Library
Lola is a unique spirit, but she also leads a pretty normal life. Until the Bells move back in next door. Now, Lola is filled with all the doubts that plagued her in the past and must decide if she's ready to finally face the boy next door.
I listened to and adored Anna and the French Kiss, so it was a no-brainer for me to download the audio of Perkins' second novel and give it a whirl. I wasn't disappointed. So far, both of Perkins' books have been exactly what I want them to be - fun, romantic reads, with interesting characters, but also some depth. I liked Lola as much, if not more than, Anna, and I enjoyed Cricket as much as St. Clair. I also loved that Perkins featured Anna and St. Clair in this book in a way that didn't feel gimmicky - it felt natural, and I appreciated getting the chance to revisit those characters. I'm eager to see if she pulls it off again in book three.
I really appreciated how unique the characters in this book are and yet how real they also feel. Lola is the girl I wish I had the courage to be in high school - she's not really afraid to be herself, she has an impeccable sense of style, and she absolutely adores her dads. In fact, the relationship between Lola and her dads was one of my favorite parts of the book. So often, parents are either absent or awful in teen books. It's very refreshing to see a set of parents who worry about their daughter, but also trust and respect her a great deal. And it's very clear that Lola holds her fathers in extremely high regard, yet still recognizes that they are human and will occasionally be a pain to her or make a mistake. I loved this part of the book.
And the romance here? SWOON. I mean, I'm a grown woman and this book had me feeling all dreamy and nostalgic for that crazy way your first love feels, however long it may last. Perkins develops the romance perfectly and Cricket is an absolute stunner of a leading man. I don't often get all pitter-pattery over fictional characters but I'm pretty sure Cricket is a dreamboat I wouldn't mind meeting in real life.
Additionally, the complications throughout the book felt very realistic to me and I think Perkins has really done a fantastic job of capturing the ups and downs of young love. I can't wait to tune into her next book.