Thursday, August 25, 2011

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door

Lola and the Boy Next Door
Stephanie Perkins
2011; Dutton (Penguin); ISBN 978-0-525-42328-7

Summary:  Lola's life couldn't be better.  She lives in the fantastic Castro District of San Francisco, she loves her parents Nathan and Andy, she's always got a unique costume to wear, and best of all is her boyfriend Max.  The only fly in the ointment is that Max is five years older than Lola, and her parents don't like him.  At least, that's the only problem until the Bell twins move back into their house next door to Lola's.  Calliope Bell is just self-centered, focused on her figure skating career.  But her brother Cricket . . . he's the boy that Lola loved once.  Now that he's back, Lola finds that perhaps her feelings haven't changed.  But what about Max?  And does Cricket actually like her?  Lola will have to search her soul to discover whether her costumes hide or reflect her true self.

Another insightful romance from Stephanie Perkins, author of Anna and the French Kiss, one that mixes Lola's journey of discovery with an epic teenage romance.  Although the novel is a bit slow to start, with some muddled interplay between the present and the past, it picks up speed when Cricket returns to Lola's life.  Cricket is perhaps the perfect teenage boy: sweet, smart, and totally in love with Lola.  The reader can't help rooting for Lola and Cricket to figure things out, although it takes some time.  Lola begins the novel lying to her parents about Max and refusing to see that Max is too old for her.  Slowly, she realizes that he's not the boy for her, a process that helps her learn how to be honest to herself and others.  This maturing process is handled well, leading to a satisfying ending not just for Lola, but for Cricket and Lola, too.  Fans of Perkins' first novel will be happy to see Anna and St. Clair as supporting characters in this one.  Lola's gay parents--one of whom is biologically her uncle--are not there for shock value or controversy, but to reflect the novel's setting and to give Lola two happy, caring parents.  Fans of Anna and the French Kiss will keep Lola and the Boy Next Door circulating.

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