Friday, April 13, 2012

On Costumes: A Review of Lola and The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Alright, we're moving right along with this contemporary romance kick. I'm going to throw in some historical soon, to mix it up. Then, maybe a werewolf or something. Onward!

Lola and the Boy Next Door is a companion novel to Stephanie Perkins' stunningly awesome Anna and the French Kiss. In it, we follow Lola, a delightfully quirky seventeen year old girl with a passion for crazy clothing. She lives with her two fathers in a nice neighborhood in San Francisco. She has a boyfriend named Max, who is twenty two years old and a rock musician. Life is going well, until the Bells move back in next door. Cricket Bell was Lola's first love, and the truth is she's not sure that she's over him. And Cricket certainly doesn't seem to be over her.

Positive Comments

I liked Lola's parents. They're strict, but in that good kind of way that shows they really care about her. I enjoyed seeing such a positive portrayal of gay men as parents. The heavy contrast between this and Lola's disaster of a birth mother was a bit heavy handed, but overall I still liked the family dynamic.

I liked Lola. An artist who wears her art. A girl with big dreams. A little immature for a seventeen year old, and not perfect by any means, but I still did not mind being in her head.

Oh, hi Tippy.
Lola's relationship with Max is the perfect picture of unhealthy relationships. Lola is completely unable to be honest with him, to be genuine with him, to stand up for herself or her friends. Max clearly feels superior to Lola in many ways and has trouble respecting her, often treating her with thinly veiled condescension and contempt. His lifestyle is incompatible with hers. Honestly, to me it seemed like the problems arose less from the age difference and more from the fact that Max simply isn't a very nice person. Although the age divide did not help.

Enter Cricket. I loved Cricket. I liked his smarts and his creativity in what he invents. I liked his style. I liked his kindness coupled with slight awkwardness. He's quirky. She's quirky. They're two quirky people falling in love.

The little details of their relationship are what hooked me. Talking through their bedroom windows. Helping Lola's father make pies. Midnight walks. Constructing a dress together. These two are too cute for words.

Speaking of too cute--Anna and Etienne! I loved that Lola gets to see them, see what a healthy and happy relationship looks like. It helps her figure out what she's missing, and I think that's awesome.

Critical Comments

Lola has some moments when she comes across as shallow. Her singular goal of creating an elaborate Marie Antoinette style gown, for example. That's great and all, but having multiple meltdowns over it? Maybe I just don't get it. But this was what lead me to feel that she's on the immature side of seventeen, rather than just a person with a flare for drama. That annoyed me a bit.

I never warmed up to Calliope, Cricket's twin, as I think I was supposed to. She struck me as self centered and, in some moments, a little hateful. I wish we'd gotten to see more of her nicer side.


Great as a stand alone, great as a loose tie in to Anna and the French Kiss, just great all around. It's a very light and cutesy romance, and it doesn't have as mature a tone as Anna did (a product of the narrator, no doubt), but I'd still recommend it to contemporary romance fans. 4 stars.

Buy from Amazon: Lola and the Boy Next Door

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