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Monday, December 05, 2011

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

I've been stalking my library for quite a while, waiting for Lola to show up on the shelves. I really enjoyed Anna and the French Kiss a lot last spring and was hopeful that Lola and the Boy Next Door would capture the same feeling for me. Unfortunately, while I did enjoy it, I don't think Stephanie Perkins will make my autobuy list*.

Lola is charming and quirky. She lives in San Fransisco with her two dads and has a much older (22 to her 17) boyfriend. She's convinced that Max is The One, until the day that next door neighbor Cricket Bell moves back home. Lola has to decide if what she feels for Cricket has changed or if he is still the one for her.

I really loved that Perkins nails how I felt as a teenager with my first boyfriend. He was also The One, no question. I was going to spend forever with him. We broke up with I was 16 and then I married boyfriend #2 at 21. He turned out to also not be The One.  I thought that Perkins did a great job with Lola and describing how this felt to me. I clearly remember feeling that way about both my guys, even as I know in hindsight that I was so so wrong. 

I loved Lola and her quirky style of dress and her amazing sewing ability. I loved Cricket for being so much fun and consistent and his too short pants and his rubber bands.  I loved Lola's two dads and her interactions with her birth mother and I loved the theme of questioning how your genetics make you into who you are, based on her birth mom versus her dads. That's a lot to love in a book.

I did not love that both books by Perkins center entirely around being with the wrong guy (or girl.) In Anna and the French Kiss St. Clair takes way way too long to ditch the girlfriend who is clearly wrong for him. In Lola, it's clear from the beginning (and from the title, and from the synopsis, and from the cover picture) where the book is going. I'll admit that love triangles are my least favorite of plots, so it's not surprising that I wasn't thrilled with it. Perkins is now two for two on using this as the basis of her story, so while I'll probably still read her next book, I'm my dying with excitement to see what she has coming.

This next bit is going to see contradictory to what I said above, so bear with me. Anna and St. Clair were both characters in Lola. I loved to see them again and didn't feel that they were out of place (nor did I feel that it would ruin their story if you read this one first.) They are a terrific couple and their interactions were a pleasure to read. However- I know I just said I loved that Perkins captured how it feels to be with The One when you're in high school. I felt uncomfortable about Anna and St. Clair being so firmly on the path to marriage in a young adult book. This probably has more to do with my failed marriage to my high school sweetheart than with the idea in general, but it seems like a bad idea to have them so unquestionably together so young. Clearly, this is something I need to process a bit on my own, but I wonder how you feel about this type of situation? Do you prefer your YA couples to be definitely and romantically together or do you like it when they are already picking out their apartment and china? I think that a Happily Ever After is required in an adult romance, and I enjoy it in YA as well, but I don't want to think about 18 year olds planning their future together in definite and concrete ways.

*I don't actually buy books any more, but I like the idea of autobuy authors.

Lola and the Boy Next Door
by Stephanie Perkins
Dutton Books
338 pages

Source: Library

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  1. It seems that everyone experiencing their first love feels that no one has ever loved so deeply before and that it's forever. And, you know, I really guess they should feel that way while they're in that relationship. As we get older and wiser, it's easy to see all the things wrong with the relationship, but they should enjoy it while they can.

  2. I really should give this author a try at some point.

  3. ooh I want to read these books too! I love writing that takes me back and makes me remember what being that young and intense felt like!

  4. Through out the book Lola has a hard time finding herself. With allot of growing up to do. And some very hard issues to deal with. Lola takes all this head on. Finding herself. Fixing herself. And in the end, finding a love that she never really thought she deserved.
    This was the perfect read I was looking for. Lola and the Boy Next Door is a book you will have trouble putting down. I feel in love with Cricket, (how could you not?) The boy next door! Who loved Lola, for who she was!


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