Audio Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door

So, this review was supposed to be posted Thursday, but as I accidentally took a 3 hour nap during my set-aside review writing time, I didn’t get a chance to write it until today.  So sorry about the quiet mid-week haha!  But here it is!

Title/Author:  Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Genre:  Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Published:  September 29, 2011 by Dutton Books

Audiobook, 539 minutes.

How I Got This Book:  Checked it out from my library

Why I Picked It Up?:  I really enjoyed the audio version of Stephanie Perkins first novel, Anna and the French Kiss.  So I wanted to listen to her second novel, too!

Book Jacket Blurb:  “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.”

My Review of This Work:

I must say, Stephanie Perkins’ first novel Anna and the French Kiss impressed me so much (especially on audio!) that I immediately procured myself a copy of Lola and the Boy Next Door on audio.  And I must admit, I loved this story even more!

~*~*~

First of all, you have Lola.  Lola encompasses the free spirit personality–no one gets in the way of who she is!  She wears an array of costumes every day to express her quirky sense of style (and sense of self).  She is not afraid of other people.  Well, except for the Bell twins, but that was a long time ago, and they moved away, and everything is okay.

Oh wait, is that a moving van next door?

Oh no, that’s Calliope.

That means…

Crap.

Cricket.

But that’s okay, because Max is here now.  It’ll be okay.

But Crap, Cricket.

~*~*~

If you are looking for one of the most unique YA characters out there, then go and pick up this book.  Because Lola is a teenager who doesn’t care what other people think.  She knows what she loves and she lives it every day, for better or worse.  Costumes are her thing, and she wears the most ridiculous combinations of items that make people look at her and wonder “what the heck”, but she does it as an expression of her quirky personality.  She is her own person, through and through.  Through other reviews of this novel I have discovered that people have found Lola to be unrealistic and self-centered for these qualities.  I did not feel that way at all.  Teenagers like Lola are few and far between (because let’s face it, being a teenage girl is a hard time for the self-confidence), but that doesn’t mean that Lola isn’t a realistic character.  Sure, she is OUT THERE on the spectrum of “normal kids,” but that is what I LOVE and RESPECT about her!  She is self-assured and self-confident!  I have to admire her poise!

Lola is dating this man named Max, who is 5 years older than her (16.5 and 22)–that is HUGE at her age!  But Max is a sexy musician who likes Lola’s quirkiness, and so even though her dads don’t approve, she dates him anyway.  And he seems like a nice enough guy, but the age difference does play a major role in their relationship.  His band is getting bigger and is playing gigs in other cities, and Lola is still in high school and living with her dads, who are trying to like Max but are still being dads.  Their lives are on different paths, but they struggle to make things work.

But then Cricket comes into the picture, throwing Lola’s world into a whirl-wind of emotions.  Something happened before the Bell Twins moved away that hurt Lola more than anything else ever has, so when Cricket and Calliope move back next door, Lola spins out of control.  Especially when Cricket is so sweet and nice and sexy and adorable and….okay, you get it.  😉  Cricket is a contemporary nerd swoon-sicle (did I just say that?).  Right up there with his Perkins counterpart, St. Clair (who, by the way, is like BFFs with Cricket!  So he, and Anna, are in this novel too!).  He is the boy next door–the nice boy who looks out for those around him.  Cricket even has the approval of both of Lola’s dads.  Too bad she’s dating Max.  A late-night window talk reaquaints Lola and Cricket.  And as Lola starts to get to know him again, she begins to realize that maybe she never got over him in the first place.

This is really the first novel I have read with a LGBT family structure, and I think Perkins does a great job at showcasing this looked-down-upon family unit.  Lola having two fathers has not had any long-lasting psychological effects on her development (unless you count being your own person), and it has given her an example of a healthy loving relationship that works out problems through communication and mutual respect.  A good, healthy family by any standards, and that is what matters.  Now, family tensions rise with the presence of Nora, Lola birthmother, who cannot seem to keep her life on track.  We see the struggles and the frustrations, but we also see the “hard love” both from Lola and her dads.

The minor character cast definitely adds some dynamic to this novel.  Obviously having Anna and St. Clair in this novel added familiarity to Lola’s story.  And the two of them together served as the example of a good relationship that Lola compares her own to (though I must admit, hearing another narrator speak for Anna was kind of weird, but I got over it lol).  Calliope, Cricket’s sister, is a character that you are supposed to fear (fear the wrath of Calliope!), but as the story goes on, and she becomes a more dominant character, she begins to grow on you.  Max is one of those bad boy characters that comes off as a jerk but treats Lola nicely, but then ends up really being a jerk.  And Nora…Oh Nora.  The most unlikely character that ends up helping Lola the most.

Lola and the Boy Next Door is a heart-warming story that will make you giggle and smile.  And I definitely recommend the audio–it is engaging and fun!  Another great contemporary story from Stephanie Perkins.  I am really looking forward to her third installment to this mock-series.  =D

My Bookshelf Rating:

A Fourth Shelf Book!

Lola and the Boy Next Door is definitely a read for anyone who loves contemporary romances with quirky, realistic characters.  This novel definitely has character!  Lola is a hoot (oh my goodness love her so much!), Cricket is definitely swoon worthy, and we get an appearance from Anna and St. Clair!  All sorts of awesome!  And definitely a great story!  And the audio is great too!  Really engaging listen!

Love and Costume Jewelry,
Jennifer

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