Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

I can’t explain the phenomenon….how or why it happens. It is a marvel we have all likely witnessed in our teens—maybe even experienced ourselves. Girl meets boy. Girl is sweet, young, and naïve. Boy is a typical “bad boy”…older, rebellious, tattoo-covered, maybe even, dare I say, in a band? Match made in heaven? So begins the story of Lola Nolan, actually Dolores Nolan (a family name, but please never call her that as she is far too hip to be a Dolores). She is a seventeen-year-old living in San Francisco with her two dads. She is quirky, funny, and has a unique style. She doesn’t believe in outfits; she believes in costume—funky wigs and ever-changing crazy clothes.

When Lola goes to her first ever concert, a show at a local club, she can’t stop staring at the lead singer of the punk band. She finds out afterwards his name is Max. He is 22, the most gorgeous guy she has ever seen, and is coming up to talk to HER! The pair soon begin to date and she is convinced he is “the one”. Though her dads can’t stand Max and his no-plans-for-college-tattooed-punk-band-self, she is completely swept off her feet. That is, until someone from her past reappears.

Two years earlier Lola’s neighbors, the Bells, moved away, which had Lola celebrating. She had a past with the dreaded brother/sister Bell twins, Cricket and Calliope. Calliope is an envied “perfect”, shiny-haired figure skater and Cricket….well, he’s another story. Lola had a bit of a history with Cricket. After a bad experience between the two of them, her once strong love for Cricket quickly turned to a resentful bitterness. So, Lola can’t stand Cricket, end of story, right? Wrong! What kind of romantic teen novel would that be? 

When the Bells return and move back in next door, Cricket is flung back into Lola’s life again. With Cricket’s personality being scientific and rational, and Lola being a creative, free spirit, it’s clear they are exact opposites, but there is still something there. Will she put the past behind her and dump her edgy, rocker boyfriend for the boy next door?

I enjoyed this book and found it to be on the higher-end of "chick-lit" novels. Stephanie Perkins does such a good job defining these unique characters. Though the plot line is somewhat typical, the quality of writing and depth of the characters are both very engaging. I wouldn't recommend it for an in-class book, but as a recommendation to teen girls (and boys, though they might not want to admit they like it), I am sure many would enjoy this sweet and romantic story. 


Demitra said...

I would have taken this book off the shelf at the library in a heartbeat. Your review makes the characters sound interesting, which is half the battle of a good book, in my opinion. Despite what may sound like a somewhat predictable storyline, I think I may have to pick this one up and take a look at it. Great review!

Sarah Rau said...

Thanks! And yeah, I'm a sucker for these types of books too. This one is really one of the better ones for sure. Would be cute to see it made into a chick flick!

FFoster said...

This review definitely has me interested. I am a sucker for chick-flicks, and therefore, a sucker for this book. Yes, generally entertainment of this genre have typical storylines (and sometimes endings), but the journey is different every time. This novel would make an interesting read for young adults because it tackles different important issues: homosexuality, family, love, conflict, boyfriends (and girlfriends), and the ever-present transition into adulthood. This book may even teach me something. Even though I'm already a mother and wife, I am still transitioning, because growth is a constant process.

Freddy in the Chi said...

This book sounds like another book I read once, but what was it??? It was about a young girl who liked a boy and then didn't and was bitter and angry with said boy and tried to move on, but said boy kept showing up in her life and she couldn't move on. I think it was called "Every YAL Book Ever Written Aimed at a Teenage Female." I could be wrong though. It could have been " a Young Teenage Female."

I have absolutely zero interest reading this book. Not because you're review was bad - which it wasn't - but I've heard this story before and there was nothing evident to make me feel it was any different. Well, her having two dads might have been different.

But you know how "those" people can get. "Those" people being the straight laced bible thumpers of the world - not the two dads - who will say the young Lola was pushed to her bad life choices (dating the rocker boy, ect.) because she had two homosexual men in her life.

Now I'm going off topic. The review was good, but I won't read the book.

Sarah Rau said...

Hi Freddy,

I'm sure your thoughts on this book are shared by many other guys (and maybe girls) too! I can definitely see how this type of book isn't at all appealing to you. Though, I will say in it's defense, the author does seem to make a conscious effort to distinguish this story from the absolute cookie-cutter. Yes, the plot is standard, but there are aspects throughout the book I haven't mentioned that do add some uniqueness to the story. Thanks for the comment--glad to see an opinion from a different point of view.

Nicole Dahl said...

I could definitely see how this book would be interesting to girls. Based on the review, I agree that this book probably wouldn't be the most popular to teach in class (especially with boys) but it would be a great book for girls (or boys too!) to read as a part of their "for fun" reading. I am sure many girls would be able to relate to being torn between doing the "right" thing and going with the rational guy or doing the non-convential thing and going with the seemingly "wrong" guy. I am sure boys and girls could even relate by jumping from that literal scenario the book presents to when they have to make hard decisions that make them choose between what society deems to be "right" and "wrong." I also think Felicia's comment above is great in that the novel engages readers thoughts into several different topics it has in it such as homosexuality, love, morals, family, etc.

amberK said...

I am not usually a fan of these stories, but I think I would pick it up based on your review (and who doesn't need some "chick-lit" every once in a while?) First, I thought you were really able to grab attention with your first two lines. I also really enjoy your writing style; it is very engaging and witty. You make the characters sound so vivid also, "She doesn’t believe in outfits; she believes in costume—funky wigs and ever-changing crazy clothes." I can almost picture her!