Stephanie Perkins has mastered the modern YA love story. I read Perkins’ first book in the series, Anna and the French Kiss and I LOVED it to pieces which is why it took me a few months until I felt ready to pick up Lola and the Boy Next Door. After falling in love with Etienne and Anna, I didn’t think I could feel anywhere near as emotional toward a new pair of characters but boy was I wrong on all accounts! (And, a MAJOR added bonus for Anna fans is that Perkins incorporated them into the story in a way that totally works!) The story takes place in San Francisco which is a place I’ve never been but have had an intense desire to visit ever since I started reading the book.
Lola is a fashionably ostentatious teenager with overprotective parents who disapprove of her much-older-and-in-a-rock-band boyfriend who decided not to go to college. Part of the reason Lola and the Boy Next Door is different than other YA novels is because Lola’s parents play such a huge role in the story. They make her check in hourly when she’s with Max and they have invoked a standing Sunday brunch date with the pair to keep closer parental watch over them. I’ll admit, it’s difficult not to like Max initially when learning about his character traits through Lola’s eyes but the feeling QUICKLY fades. Within the first few pages we find out that her previous neighbors who she’s always DREADED seeing again are moving back into their old house right next door to her. It doesn’t take long to fall in love with the boy next door despite Lola fighting the feeling for the majority of the book.
And now, the boy. Cricket Bell is the teenage heartthrob that girls should be swooning over instead of the stereotypical bad boy. Cricket is kind. He genuinely cares about Lola, he would never pressure her into anything, and he’s even willing to talk to her about her issues with Max despite how difficult it is for him to hear. Cricket gets along with Lindsay (Lola’s Nancy Drew obsessed BFF), AND her parents, and he’s a super intelligent guy that’s passionate about inventing things.
I’ve always geared away from stories that felt purely romantic but Stephanie Perkins has completely changed my mind with her first two books. Recently, Isla and the Happily Ever After debuted and I’m going to pick it up a lot sooner than I did with Lola. If you’re looking for a book to devour with a very realistic story and a romance that’ll really pull at your heartstrings, Lola and the Boy Next Door is definitely the way to go.