Lola and the Boy Next Door
by Stephanie Perkins
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Big Themes: Love, Friendship, Uniqueness, Family, Breaking Up, Costumes, Figure Skating, Inventions
Summary: Lola is happy with life. She has a full wardrobe of bright, sparkly clothes and a gorgeous rockstar boyfriend. But then a moving truck rolls up to the house next door, and Lola learns the Bell family is returning. She'd hoped she would never see the Bell twins again...
What I Liked (or in this case LOVED):
The Characters: Each character is incredibly endearing despite the fact that they each have manic interests. Lola has costumes. Lindsey has mysteries. Max has music. Andy has pies. Calliope has skating. Cricket has inventions. I think this is part of how Perkins goes about bringing her characters to life: giving them a passion or interest. And while maybe people in the real world aren't this singular in what they are passionate about, I love how she uses it to bring each character to life. Some critics might argue that it creates stereotypes, but I love to see characters who are passionate about something. For me it makes them more real.
Conflict: The problems faced by Lola and her torn emotions between Max and Cricket were both plausible and extremely well-written. I completely understood and felt what she was going through. And the way secondary characters like her parents and Lindsey were woven into the conflict added to the realism. I don't want to give anything away, but the conflict was just very well-done.
Cricket: I adore Cricket. A gangly, high energy, slightly nerdy inventor was a totally swoonworthy male lead for me. I prefer him to Etienne St. Clair because he was so well-developed and interesting. I loved all his little quirks. I loved how he was constantly tinkering with things. I loved how he wrote on his hand. Cricket really came to life for me, and I love his character.
Resolution: Another positive was how Lola grew over the course of the book. Her low point was really low, but what she learned from it and how she handled it really impressed me. I think she's a really strong role model for girls in a similar situation. (Really trying not to give away the ending here!)
Sort of Didn't Like:
The Predictability: There was very little I didn't like, but if I have to nitpick, the book was a little bit predictable. When we finally learn the history between Lola and Cricket, I wasn't surprised. And I knew who Lola would end up with. But there were some little surprises I wasn't expecting, and I never found myself being annoyed with the elements that were predictable.
My Rating: I'm giving this book a full 5 stars. I don't often enjoy contemporary fiction, but this book was exceptionally well done. I enjoyed every minute of it and fell in love with some of the characters. Would recommend to 14+ due to some mild sexual situations.