Lola and the Boy Next Door
(Anna and the French Kiss #2)
By Stephanie Perkins 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.
I very rarely pick up a novel where I know the basis of the plot will rely on romance or a romantic relationship. So why would I then I pick up a novel that practically screams teenage romance? Well, I have challenged myself this summer to read more contemporary novels in an effort to explore other genres. I think I might have picked the wrong novel to start with though.
The title pretty much says it all. Cricket Bell moves back in the house directly beside Lola our protagonist. One problem, Lola and Cricket did not part on good terms, and while Lola seems to have made peace with their parting, in reality she only nurses her wounds in private. Lola was beyond over dramatic, she was holding onto a petty high school grudge which when revealed seems a little ridiculous in hindsight.
Stephanie Perkins tried too hard to make her characters unique. From Lola’s crazy costumes and sense of style to Cricket’s odd fashion choices every character is made to come off the page in an array of colours and sparkles that seriously did not appeal to me. I felt no connection to any of the characters. Not her parents, her boyfriend or even her best friend. All her characters felt unrealistic and superficial. They were that dull buzzing sound that accompanies an old television. Insistent and always present, but an unwanted side effect of watching the Lola and Cricket program.
That is not to say that I particularly liked Lola or Cricket. Far from it actually, Lola continuously aggravated me. Her mind set when it came to dealing with Cricket’s affections and that of her boyfriend’s frustrated me. I did not appreciate the way she led Cricket on, knowing full well the intention of his feelings. And while her bad boy musician boyfriend was meant to be an obstacle in the Cricket and Lola love story his poor character development, from intriguing to vindictive, was more of a shady attempt to make Lola out to be the victim in their relationship than anything else.
The real obstacle was Lola herself and her incapability to come to terms with her feelings for Cricket, which have always been glaringly obvious. More so, the point of Lola struggling between her boyfriend and Cricket would be in the hopes of creating some sort of love triangle. Usually there would be some indecision on Lola’s part, and while she remained undecided for most of the novel there was no basis for it. With her boyfriend becoming increasingly spiteful and Cricket being nothing but kind and helpful I was having a hard time grasping where her uncertainty was stemming from.
While I did not dislike Cricket in any way, I actually found him rather adorable (all gangly limbs, crazy socks and fast spoken sentences) I could not find myself connecting to a character that followed Lola around like a lost puppy.
Now, because I have only ever heard good things about Stephanie Perkins’s writing I might be tempted to read Anna and the French Kiss if only to see if she can live up to her name in her more popular novel.