It’s summer vacation, and Lola Nolan’s life couldn’t get much better. Not only is she rocking her usual: wig, eyelashes, bright colors, and glitter, but she also has a hot boyfriend, a great work schedule, and two caring dads. Lola can only wish that her Marie Antoinette dress for winter formal will come together and that her parents will accept her older boyfriend Max. She’s certainly not thinking about the last boy she felt this way about nor wondering if he will move back in. But when the inevitable moving trucks arrive it looks like the string of renters next door has ended and the Bell twins are back. There’s Calliope, the Olympic hopeful figure skater who is as cold and bossy as ever, and Cricket – taller, filled out, and as attractive as Lola remembers. Suddenly Cricket and that last strained goodbye have become impossible to avoid, forcing Lola to do some serious soul searching. How she reconciles her complicated past with Cricket may just alter the future she’s let herself imagine.
Ever since I read Stephanie Perkin’s funny and charming debut Anna and the French Kiss last year Lola and the Boy Next Door was one of my highest anticipated reads of 2011. Many of you know firsthand that Anna was just the one – that perfectly captured does-he-like-me romance of YA contemp. I suppose with that high bar set it would be natural to have some reservations, but I felt oddly calm. I pre-ordered a copy and expected not to see it until release day or after. But then it showed up on my front step and after being faithful to the book I was currently reading (and finishing it) I intended to read only a few pages of Lola. How easy it was to read just one more chapter until in a reading intensive two days I turned the last delightful page.
From the memorable introduction of aspiring costume designer Lola to her pitch perfect voice, I was on board. What kept me coming back is the flawless wit in both the dialogue and the plot reveals. And especially anything in ALL CAPS. The caps will kill you through either breathlessness or laughter. While I didn’t always agree with the omission lies and the questionable choices Lola makes I definitely saw from where she was coming her perspective was written well. As she slowly begins to realize that her feelings for Cricket have never gone away she tries hard to do what she thinks is right. I loved the way Lola wedded fashion and costume in her daily wardrobe. It’s every girls dream to never wear the same outfit twice. That her clothing reflected Lola’s state of mind in a literal and one-of-a-kind way was super cool and represents well the many touches which made this novel so fun. The music scene of San Francisco, the Alexander Graham Bell connection and that Lola is named after the Dolores of Mission fame – it’s charming in a quirky way. While a Victorian row house on one of the iconic hills of San Francisco is a little cliché a la Full House I liked how Lola and Cricket grew up looking into each others’ windows because of it and the striking backdrop the historic and colorful houses make for the cover.
This brings me to my favorite part of the cover and the book: Cricket. I absolutely love when the little details of the cover are specific to the characters and events of the book, and I absolutely love Cricket. Maybe not his name (though it did grow on me) but that he was completely my type. He’s tall, for one, with that effortlessly chic look and that somewhat geeky, silent-type-in-the-background thing going on. But back to the cover (The wrist bands! The pants! The star!) – did I mention that Cricket is TALL? Really, how was Lola the last one to know? Although it was obvious he was the one I wouldn’t trade any of their charged moments guaranteed to leave you either sighing, giddy or goofily smiling for anything. With more than a cameo from Anna and Etienne and another developed and slow burn relationship, Lola and the Boy Next Door is an utterly fun, swoon-full, and riveting read that I couldn’t wait to review and I can’t wait to pass on.
Lola and the Boy Next Door comes out tomorrow!