“Lola and the Boy Next Door,” Stephanie Perkins’ much anticipated follow-up to “Anna and the French Kiss,” lives up to its deserved hype. It’s hard not to compare these two books, since they both have plucky protagonists and incredible love interests. As a result, there has emerged an Etienne St. Clair vs. Cricket Bell debate. As far as I’m concerned (although my sister Sandie would disagree), there is no debate… it’s Cricket Bell all the way. Don’t get me wrong; Etienne is amazing, but Cricket had me literally swooning. I couldn’t stop thinking about him! Yes, I confess, I have a “crush” on the boy who lives next door… to Lola.
Name: Cricket Graham Bell
What Does He look like? Cricket Bell is the kind of guy you notice when he walks into a room. The first thing that registers is his height, he is tall, taller than most boys. His slender body is slightly filled out. You also notice his energy. He moves gracefully with an enthusiasm he can’t quite control- the constantly moving body, hands, feet. He has dark hair that is also tall. As a kid his hair always stood straight up, it’s “inverted floppy”. Then there are his blue eyes. As Lola so aptly put it, “The kind of blue that startles you every time they’re lifted in your direction. The kind of blue that makes you ache for them to look at you again. Not the blue green or blue gray, the blue that’s just blue.”
What Does He Do? As any descendant of Alexander Graham Bell would expect to be, Cricket is a gifted inventor. He has always loved building, inventing, and fixing things. It’s no surprise that he is studying engineering at the University of California, Berkeley.
Who Does He Love? Lola. Always Lola.
Why Him? Where to begin? Cricket Bell is amazing. The sweet, adorably geeky, boy next door completely won my heart…I absolutely adore him. He is shy, sweet and sincere. He’s also supportive, genuine, smart, giving, caring, and kind. Not only is Cricket a geek, but he also has good taste in clothes. Who wouldn’t want to have a guy who isn’t just good-looking but also has a sense of style?
Cricket is willing to be Lola’s friend despite the fact that it deeply hurts him to see her dating a man that is five years older than her. For him, Lola is worth having as a friend no matter the circumstances. He is also the kind of guy that loves his sister so much that he is willing to stand in the shadows while she shines as a figure skater. He can also bake pies with Lola’s dad, build interesting “contraptions”, or just hang out his window and talk . Lola sums him up best when she realizes, “And if I’m the stars, Cricket Bell is entire galaxies.” Yes indeed Lola, I wholeheartedly agree.
Swoon Worthy Quotes:
“Lola?” Cricket is on his knees at the side of my bed. I feel it. “I’m here,” he whispers. “You can talk to me or not talk to me, but I’m here.”
“I know you aren’t perfect. But its a person’s imperfections that make them perfect for someone else.”
“So do you believe in second chances?” I bite my lip.
“Second, third, fourth. Whatever it takes. However long it takes. If the person is right,” he adds.
“If the person is… Lola?”
This time, he holds my gaze. “Only if the other person is Cricket.”
“Once upon a time, there was a girl who talked to the moon. And she was mysterious and she was perfect, in that way that girls who talk to moons are. In the house next door, there lived a boy. And the boy watched the girl grow more and more perfect, more and more beautiful with each passing year. He watched her watch the moon. And he began to wonder if the moon would help him unravel the mystery of the beautiful girl. So the boy looked into the sky. But he couldn’t concentrate on the moon. He was too distracted by the stars. And it didn’t matter how many songs or poems had already been written about them, because whenever he thought about the girl, the stars shone brighter. As if she were the one keeping them illuminated.
One day, the boy had to move away. He couldn’t bring the girl with him, so he brought the stars. When he’d look out his window at night, he would start with one. One star. And the boy would make a wish on it, and the wish would be her name…”
Many thanks to Simini Blocker for her awesome Cricket illustration.