Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

What You Need to Know:  This book is a little heavier than Perkins' debut, but is still a fun, unabashedly romantic read.

Summary:  Lola, just barely 17, has 3 goals in life.  1) To convince her two dads that her (much older) boyfriend is THE ONE; 2) To create and wear a full Marie Antoinette costume for the Winter Formal and 3) to never see the Bell twins again.

However, Dad and Dad are not warming up to Lola's perfect punk boyfriend Max, the costume is way more work than she thought and Cricket and Calliope Bell just moved in next door.  Cricket Bell, inventive, sweet and super tall, was Lola's best friend and first love, until he rejected her and left.  But now he's back, and Lola is going to have to learn to deal.

What Worked:  Lola acts, sounds and behaves like a precocious 17 year old.  Like most of us at 17, she thinks she has everything figured out and knows everything.  When she finds out she doesn't, it shatters her.  Perkins totally nailed Lola's voice.   So much so that  I wanted to give her a big hug, or ground her, or both.

The background characters are equally well drawn.  Lola's two dads are fantastic, sweet and supportive but not perfect.  I really hope that Lola's BFF Lindsey gets her own book one day, because a Chuck Taylor wearing Nancy Drew fanatic is the kind of girl I want to know better.    And, then, there's Cricket.

Cricket Bell, will you be my (completely platonic) YA Lit boyfriend?   I love you and your hipster clothes and weird contraptions.  You could come over and we could watch How It's Made and bake.

Seriously though, Cricket is a great character.  Sweet, thoughtful, inventive but not so perfect that he defies realism.  He's exactly the kind of guy a girl has a hard time getting over.

Overall, I would describe this book as sweet and girly.  However, Lola has to deal with some heavy issues, such as her homeless biological mom, and a not entirely healthy relationship.  This gives the story more gravitas than your typical YA romance, but not so much that it falls into misery porn territory.

What Didn't:  It's hard, as an adult, to read a Teen Romance as a teen would.  Because any adult woman would take one look at Max and say "Oh, honey, no!".  He's a douchebag.  A faux-rebellious punk-wannabe with stupid flash tattoos and a bad bleach job.   However, at 17, he probably looks pretty tasty.

Because Mac is a jerk and Cricket is adorable, it's hard to see why Lola hangs on to her relationship with Mac for so long.   Again, maybe this is one of those things that makes sense as a teen, but mystifies an adult.  

Who Would I Give This Book To:  This one's all about the girls.  Fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han, would eat this up.   Teens looking for a light and fun read would also enjoy.

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