Dutton, 338 pages
"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."
After reading Anna and the French Kiss I fell in love with Stephanie Perkins's writing style. I'm also a big fan of Sarah Dessen's contemporary fiction novels. When I heard there was a companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss I was ecstatic! Lola and the Boy Next Door has similar aspects to Anna and the French Kiss, but with a new fun cute story nontheless.
Lola expresses herself through clothing, and by clothing, I mean costumes. Every costume is different, crazy, and original. I loved that she expressed herself through her clothes, because I feel that is how you can represent yourself. It explains your personality. Lola is also the polar opposite of Anna. She has plenty of flaws and that's what I think a lot of people will be able to relate to. Lola has two fathers: Nathan and Andy. Lola's birth mother, Norah is actually Nathan's sister and is struggling with her own life: with drugs, alcohol, and income. Lola's dads are very protective. They want the best for Lola. This brings me to Lola's current boyfriend, Max. Lola's parents do NOT like Max. Max is in a band, has his own apartment, and is twenty years old. Max bothered me. I didn't like him, especially when compared to Cricket--Lola's neighbor next door. Cricket is honestly the sweetest guy. He's six foot four, wears pinstripe pants, is super intelligent, and a bit awkward. I loved him for all those aspects. He was just so adorable and SO nice. He respects Lola, yet he never fails to mention how much he cares about her, something Max doesn't do.
Because this is a companion novel I expected for Anna and St. Clair to make an appearance in the novel. I hoped for at least a chapter including them, and I was pleasantly surprised. Anna and St. Clair not only are featured in one chapter, they are actual side characters! Anna works with Lola at a movie theater and St. Clair is attending the same college as Cricket. St. Clair is still as cocky and charming as ever; while Anna is completely in love and involved with films.
The plot was filled with drama and filled with Lola deciding what's right for her and what she should and can do about it. Of course, with a cute story like this, I always find it predictable, but that didn't detract from how much I enjoyed it. Also, with any romantic contemporary fiction, there is a line between romantic and cheesy. Yes, there were some major cheese moments, but I loved the cheese moments. They were cute.
I don't know how Stephanie Perkins has such great pacing, but it was the easiest and quickest read. I don't have to worry about struggling through every chapter. The writing style was fun, quirky, and a signature for Stephanie Perkins. There will be a final companion novel called Isla and the Happily Ever After that will be released in the fall of 2012. I'm SO excited beyond belief. Stephanie Perkins never fails to disappoint and leaves me feeling extremely happy after turning that last page.
If you loved Anna and the French Kiss or are a fan of Sarah Dessen or contemporary fiction in general, I highly recommend Lola and the Boy Next Door. Truly a fun, amazing read.
Rating: 5 stars - I loved it! Buy a copy!