Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Review Time: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

by Brittany Geragotelis

The Story:
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.
Why It's a Must-Read: 
 Admittedly, I never read Anna and the French Kiss, the book that started it all, so I wasn't aware that this was a companion novel to Stephanie Perkins' first. But I promise, you don't have to have read her first book in order to follow this one. I think the thing that's so great about this book, is that Stephanie is such a gifted storyteller. She may not have created an entirely new universe, but her ability to tell a story that people can identify with is why you keep turning the pages. And the characters....
What a Character:  
Where do I start? The leading lady, Lola, is just as colorful as her name. She's such a unique character...obsessed with constantly reinventing herself, she looks at dressing as a way to express her mood for the day. You'd think she was an actress or rock star, considering how many wigs she has in her home collection. To say that she marches to the beat of her own drummer is an understatement. However, she's still totally relatable in that she's a girl who's still sometimes self-conscious and just wants to impress the boy she loves. 
        I also loved Lola's parents. They both added so much to the family dynamic and showed that all it takes to raise a kid successfully is love. And being that the story takes place in San Francisco, the fact that Lola was being raised by a gay couple didn't overshadow the rest of the story. I loved that it was normal to her and was treated that way (as it should). 
        And Cricket and Calliope Bell....Cricket, I love, love, loved. I had my own Cricket Bell growing up, although I don't think I realized it until I had already grown up and moved away. And Calliope? I would LOVE to read a book about her. Even though she's not one of the lead characters, she's so incredibly interesting. Can I request another companion novel?!?!?!

A Little Something Extra:
I had the privilege of meeting Stephanie recently at a book reading/signing during YA week here in NYC, where she and several other authors reinacted scenes from their books. And I was OBSESSED. With her super-hero red hair. With her acting skills while on the stage. With her presence. After the reading, I had my book signed by her and she was so sweet and nice. It's clear that she's just as unique as the characters she creates.

Follow her on Twitter @NaturallySteph and then go out and buy her book!