Word Spelunking

Lola and the Boy Next Door - Stephanie Perkins Stephanie Perkins’ Lola and the Boy Next Door was a nice reprieve from my usual paranormal/fantasy reads and a great way to delve back into Contemporary Fiction. This book has had such great buzz and I totally get why. It has a quirky, delightful story; charming, engaging characters; and a sweet, realistic romance. SUMMARYSeventeen year old Lola Nola has a pretty great life- a dazzling sense of fashion, two loving dads, loyal friends, a hot, older rocker boyfriend, a great job, and big dreams. Ok, so her dads aren’t thrilled with her choice of boyfriend and her quirky style isn’t a hit with everyone and her biological mother complicates things…but, overall Lola’s life is peachy. Until the Bells move back in next door. Lola has a complicated and painful past with the Bell twins Calliope and Cricket. Lola must confront her lingering feelings for the handsome boy next door, deal with a less than ideal mother, and discover just who she wants to be. THE STORYOn the surface, Lola and the Boy Next Door may seem to be just a witty, sweet romance, which it is, but it’s also so much more. Lola’s journey throughout this book is an emotional and realistic one. This is an insightful, meaningful coming of age story grounded in realism. This is a story that anybody who has ever felt lost, not good enough, and plain confused can relate to. And who hasn’t felt that way?! Every page sparkles and shines with humor, heart, and honesty.The story itself is nicely paced, with a perfect mix of present tense action and past memories/events that intertwine seamlessly with the immediate story being told. The story is told from Lola’s perspective, giving readers intimate and open access to her thoughts and feelings. And I really loved being inside Lola’s head! The story takes place over about six months, and I love that Perkins really builds Lola’s world layer by layer, giving readers a chance to get to know these people and this world. And I walked away feeling like I kind of became a part of this book for a few hours. There is something very simple, but completely intriguing about the everyday scenes of Lola’s life that Perkins included in this book, such as simple but sweet and funny moments of Lola at work or Lola hanging out with her BFF or Lola and one of her dads having a heart to heart talk. I think moments like these made Lola’s world and story very layered, realistic, and complete.One of the things I liked best about this book is how much heart it has. At its core, this book is about love, family, acceptance, and finding one’s self. There are so many different, yet universally powerful, kinds of love in this book- romantic love, love between a parent and child, love between siblings, love between friends, love of oneself- and I found each of these examples of love to be quite insightful and meaningful. The emotions and feelings that the characters experience are so incredibly relatable and easy to connect with. With every laugh, tear, or angry snort, I found myself thinking I know exactly how that feels or Yep, been there too.This isn’t a book with explosive action or a gasp-worthy climax, but it is electric in its own right. Lola’s story is addictive and impossible to put down (I read it in one late night sitting). CHARACTERSThis book is chock full of charming, compelling and dynamic characters.Lola is one of those characters that only come along once in awhile. She is delightfully unique, yet almost comfortingly predictable. She is bright, caring, determined, feisty, creative, endearingly quirky and frustratingly stubborn. She isn’t perfect, far from it. There were times when I wanted to smack her upside her fashionably wigged head or chastise her for her selfishness or inconsiderate actions, yet, I also wanted to hug her at the same time. Her imperfections are what make her easy to love and so relatable. Underneath her sparkly, fun costumes lies an insecure girl longing to be wanted for exactly who she is…yet, even she’s not sure who that is. I really loved watching this character grow and mature throughout this book. The humor, aching honesty, and unique perspective she brings to this journey of self discovery are refreshing and enchanting. Cricket Bell *collective sigh*. What an endearing, one of a kind teenage male character! All the Cricket swooning and hype you’ve heard about? It’s not exaggerations! He really is impossible not to love. Cricket has a charming awkwardness, infectious disposition and a genuinely good heart. I loved every moment that Cricket appeared in this book and I only wish there was more of him. And I do think Perkins could have done a bit more with his character. There were moments when I thought perhaps his character was going to be explored more, but wasn’t, or when his issues were eluded to, but not elaborated on. I suppose my only complaint about his character is that there wasn’t enough of him. His intelligence, compassion, sweetness, and cute habit of rambling had me doing the swoony, sighing, big smiled, dreamy face. I’ll admit it, I’m completely smitten! The supporting characters are fabulous! Lola’s BFF, Lindsey, is too awesome with her sarcastic tongue, love of all things spy-ish, and her loyalty to Lola. Cricket’s twin sister, Calliope, comes off a bit bitchy, but even when she’s being nasty you can tell that there is so much more to her. Her genuine love and care for Cricket is very touching. Lola’s older, rockstar boyfriend, Max, is a lot of fun to hate. He’s a total asshat, but he’s kind of a compelling asshat. Anna and St. Clair are really fun characters…I haven’t read Anna and the French Kiss but I really want to now! ROMANCEThere are several romantic relationships in this book, but the main ones are Lola/Max and Lola/Cricket, and both are important.Lola’s relationship with Max is intense, fun, and sexy. Lola is in love with Max, or at least she’s in love with the idea of him. For Lola, Max represents her desire to feel grown up and free. This is a relationship that I think Lola needed to experience and readers needed to see her in because it proves vital for her development as a character.The relationship between Lola and Cricket is nothing like Lola/Max. Lola and Cricket have history together, a sweet, painful, complicated history. I really loved watching these two rediscover one another and kind of fall in love with each other all over again. There were times when the romantic dialogue between these two did sound a bit cheesy, but overall they’re captivating togther. Like Lola’s fashion, this sweet relationship sparkles, shines, and dazzles. MY FINAL THOUGHTS: This isn’t a perfect book, but it is an awesome book. Stephanie Perkins’ talent for writing funny, captivating and magical books really shines in Lola and the Boy Next Boy. I enjoyed this book immensely and I think you will too. This is a book that you really should read!READ THE COMPLETE AND ORIGINAL REVIEW (AND MANY MORE) AT WORD SPELUNKING

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