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.
Stephanie Perkins is the queen of writing sexual tension. She excels at capturing the agonizing wait for that first perfect kiss and the giddiness of falling in love for the first time. She has a way of making you feel every emotion right along with the characters. This is what made me fall in love with “Anna and the French Kiss,” and made me eager to read the companion novel, “Lola and the Boy Next Door.”
Lola is quirky, a teenage Lady Gaga, who creates costumes that not only express her individuality but also make a statement about the things she believes in. For example, to protest big game hunting in Africa, Lola wears a cheetah print dress decorated with red broaches to signify bullet holes and red ribbons laced up her arms to represent blood. Lola is passionate, fun, and unique, but she can also be impulsive and self-centered at times.
When Lola’s former crush, Cricket, moves back into her neighborhood, he is determined to win back her heart. Two years earlier, Lola and Cricket had been on track to get together, but a misunderstanding brought about by his twin sister Calliope left them both heartbroken. Unfortunately, Cricket now has to contend with Lola’s much older “hot rocker boyfriend,” Max. Nearly everyone in Lola’s life disapproves of the relationship because Max is so much older than she is. Lola is conflicted. She loves Max, but she isn’t entirely sure that she’s over Cricket either.
There is plenty of romance in this story, but Lola’s journey to find her place in the world is equally important. Is Lola using her costumes to hide her true self or are they a true expression of her creativity? The teenage years are all about learning who you are. Perkins does a wonderful job making Lola’s confusion seem authentic for a teenage girl.
And if you need one more reason to read “Lola and the Boy Next Door,” perfect couple Anna Olliphant and Etienne St. Clair make an appearance as Lola’s coworkers at a San Francisco movie theater. But they are just icing on the cake, because there are plenty of amazing new characters to adore in this wonderful story.
“My New Year’s resolution was to never again wear the same outfit twice.”
“His eyes are bright. Sincere. Desperate. ‘Go out with me tonight. Tonight, every ni–‘ The word cuts off in his throat as he sees something behind me.
Cigarettes and spearmint. I want to die.
‘This is Max. My boyfriend. Max, this is Cricket Bell.'”
“‘I’ll only say this once more. Clearly, so there’s no chance of misinterpretation.’ His eyes darken into mine. ‘I like you. I’ve always liked you. It would be wrong for me to come back into your life and act otherwise.'”
Cricket returns to his work. The pink roses are added. ‘I know you aren’t perfect. But it’s a person’s imperfections that make them perfect for someone else.'”