BOOK REVIEW – Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss #2) by Stephanie PerkinsLola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss #2)
by Stephanie Perkins
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Synopsis:

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn't believe in fashion... she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit – the more sparkly, more wild – the better. And life is pretty close to perfect for Lola, especially with her hot rocker boyfriend.

That is, until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket return to the neighbourhood and unearth a past of hurt that Lola thought was long buried. So when talented inventor Cricket steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally face up to a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door. Could the boy from Lola's past be the love of her future?

Review:

I think it’s no secret that I have been in a really annoying book slump in November. Since summer I’ve been reading a lot. A lot of high fantasy, a lot of paranormal and a lot of dystopia. But then in November, something changed. I would start a new book and be intrigued, but although I was enjoying myself, I always found myself reading very slowly. I’d put the book down every couple of pages to check my phone, goodreads, social media… you know. It happened with almost every book I started which weren’t very many since it took me forever to finish them. I think every one of you would agree with me that it’s one of the most annoying things that can happen to a bookworm.
I know, I know. I’m rambling and digressing, but stay with me, I actually do have a point!
Because even though I’ve loved some of my recent reads (hello Legend series), Lola and the Boy Next Door is the first book in a while to truly hook me. It demanded my complete attention and it was impossible for me to put it down.

“That was both ridiculously easy and way more complicated than it should have been.”
“That’s my specialty.”

I’m not saying this book was perfect in any way – because it wasn’t – but everything about it with flaws and all was exactly what I needed to overcome my book slump and I’m so so grateful. Thank you, Mrs Perkins.

I loved so much about this book, it’s a bit overwhelming right now. From the writing, to the characters, from the atmosphere to Cricket, it all just fit. You know when a story just works for you in that moment? That was what Lola and the Boy Next Door was to me. It just worked.

I collapse into bed and fall asleep with my other hand clasped around the blue rubber band. And I dream about blue eyes and blue nails and first-kiss lips dusted with blue sugar crystals.

Stephanie Perkin’s writing has this unique charm and effortlessness, so that you can’t help but read another page. And again and again. Pages are turning into chapters and before you know it, it’s 5AM and you’re almost done with the book. At least that’s what happened to me and I enjoyed every second of it! Reading this book was like a warm summer breeze after a long winter to my very deprived bookish heart.

“Just because something isn’t practical doesn’t mean it’s not worth creating. Sometimes beauty and real-life magic are enough.”

The characters were, as expected, interesting, realistic and very likable. The heroine Lola is this really cool girl who dresses in different crazy costumes everyday. She wears wigs and old-fashioned dresses and platform boots. The more unusual, the better. I liked her from the beginning and although she made some truly stupid decisions, I never ceased to like her. Everyone makes mistakes and all that, right? Well, Lola has to learn the hard way, but she always realized when she was at fault which is why she never truly annoyed me. It was all very realistic for a 17 year old girl. And while I kinda wanted to hit her sometimes because of what it did to Cricket, it was all good in the end. She wasn’t the only one doing the mistakes.

“But I’m worse. I’m a child playing dress-up, who can’t even recognize herself under her own costume.”

Cricket, the adorable hero, plays the boy next door part of this story, and oh boy, he plays it well! He and Lola share a past friendship and almost relationship that didn’t end well and after two year of not seeing each other, Cricket tumbles back into Lola’s life, full of energy and determination to get her back. This sounds simple enough, but the fact that Lola actually has a boyfriend makes all that extremely messy. I mean, this situation screamed heartbreak from the beginning.
Through all that though, Cricket managed to sneak his way into my heart. He just marched in there and took on a permanent residency. My walls were down and there was nothing I could do. Not that I wanted to or anything.

“I know you aren’t perfect. But it’s a person’s imperfections that make them perfect for someone else.”

Seriously though, Cricket is an amazing character. He’s sweet, honest, good-natured, reliable and one of these genuinely good people. He’s the perfect match to Lola’s craziness in my opinion and it was heartbreaking to watch how he was second-best for so long, not only with her, but in his family as well. He’s very insecure at times and honestly it’s no wonder with how he was treated sometimes. I just wanted to give him a hug and tell him how amazing he is.

“Are you embarrassed by me?”
“Why would I be embarrassed by you?”
“Because I’m not cool.”
“How can you think that?”
“Come on. He’s this sexy rock god, and I’m the boy next door. The stupid science geek, who’s spent his life on the sidelines of figure-skating rinks. With his sister.”

Don’t you just want to hug him? Honestly, there were so many moments when I wished I would know someone like him. He’s so patient with Lola, builds her up when she’s down and takes her the way she is. And he blushes! Cricket’s not very good at hiding his emotions and I loved it! He’s just one of those people who wear their hearts on their sleeves. It was adorable to watch and there were many moments where I just squealed and squeezed my book because he is so damn cute and I couldn’t take it.

“So do you believe in second chances?” I bite my lip.
“Second, third, fourth. Whatever it takes. However long it takes. If the person is right,” he adds.
“If the person is… Lola?”
This time, he holds my gaze. “Only if the other person is Cricket.”

And while I really loved the two main characters, I also enjoyed the supporting characters immensely. Especially Lola’s dads. They were so sweet, kinda hilarious at times and perfect for her. It all just fit for me. Lola’s whole background story actually. It was really touching, added even more depth to the story and emphasized the charming atmosphere of a boy next door story set in San Francisco.

And of course I loved every second I got to spend with Anna and St. Clair living a new live together after that messy year in Paris. It was fun to read about them from another perspective and really made me happy. I missed St. Clair’s british accent!

“Anna prods St. Clair’s shoulder. “Come on. Weren’t you gonna show me that thing?”
“What thing?”
She stares at him. He stares back. She cocks her head toward Cricket and me.
“Ah, yes.” St. Clair stands. “That thing.”
They rush out. The door shuts, and St. Clair shouts, “Lola, Cricket wants to show you his thing, too-oo!”

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