Lola and the Boy Next Door
Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Publish Date: September 29, 2011
From the author's website:
In this companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss, two teens discover that true love may be closer than they think.
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.
Delores "Lola" Nolan has just turned 17 and thinks her life is moving along just fine - she's got a boyfriend who loves her, a great best friend, and she loves her two dads. Well... things are fine if you don't count the fact that her dads don't approve of her 22-year-old boyfriend. Then, the Bell twins move back in next door and her birth mother shows up, and Lola's life gets turned upside down.
I absolutely loved Anna and the French Kiss, so I was super-excited to read Lola and the Boy Next Door; Ms. Perkins writing shines again in this wonderful story of love lost and found anew.
Lola is a sweet kid with a style all her own - wigs, glitter, dresses made from tablecloths. She works in a local movie theatre (with Anna from Anna and the French Kiss), hangs out with her best friend Lindsey, and sees her boyfriend Max as often as her fathers will let her. When the Bell twins move back in, she's devastated. Calliope Bell is just a witch, and her twin brother Cricket Bell was Lola's True Love. Then, right before they moved away, something happened between them. It took Lola a long time to get over the hurt, so when he moves back in, she's determined not to let him get under her skin. But he does, again and again and again...
Cricket walks several steps behind me. It's a careful distance.
I wonder if he's looking at my butt.
WHY DID I JUST THINK THAT? Now my butt feels COLOSSAL. Maybe he's looking at my legs. Is that better? Or worse? Do I want him looking at me? I hold on to the bottom of my dress as I climb into the backseat and crawl to the other side. I'm sure he's looking at my butt. He has to be. It's huge, and it's right there, and it's huge.
No. I'm acting crazy.
I glance over, and he smiles at me as he buckles his seat belt. My cheeks grow warm.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?
~Page 128, Lola and the Boy Next Door
Cricket is absolutely adorable - tall, stylish but geeky, smart, and kind. He's so interested in Lola; everyone can tell, especially Max, who's not happy about it, and Lola's dads, who are happy about it. He's absolutely the kind of boy I'd want my own daughters to date.
Deep breaths. Take deep breaths. I adjust my dress, but the fabric sticks to my leg, and I accidentally flash Cricket my thigh. This time, I catch him looking. His fingers are messing with his bracelets and rubber bands. Our eyes lock.
A rubber band snaps and shoots into the windshield. Nathan's and Andy's heads jolt back in fright, but they laugh when they realize what happened.
Cricket's body shrinks up in his seat, "Sorry! Sorry."
And I'm strangely relieved to know that I'm not the only one freaking out.
~Page 129, Lola and the Boy Next Door
In Lola and the Boy Next Door, Ms. Perkins has written wonderful characters who leap off the pages: Lola's dads, Max the boyfriend, and Cricket's twin sister Calliope are all integral to the plot without overshadowing Lola and Cricket. I also loved seeing Anna and St. Clair again.
I think the only reason I didn't give Lola 5 stars is that I didn't identify with Lola like I did with Anna. That sounds like a bad thing but it's not - the characters are very different, but the writing and story are still fabulous. I tore through Lola and the Boy Next Door in a day. This is definitely a series I will be keeping up with! I'm looking forward to Isla and the Happily Ever After; do we really have to wait until Fall 2012?
Book received by publisher at ALA.