A year after the publication of Anna and the French Kiss, the second of the alleged three companion novels of this book had finally been released, which was entitled Lola and the Boy Next Door. Evidently, the second book will mainly focus on the life of Lola.
Here’s the plot description from the cover jacket of the book:
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.
I am always fascinated by fashion designers. They have this impeccable talent of bringing their imaginations into reality through the style of clothes they create. In today’s society where fashion has become famous and prevalent – with the emergence of fashion bloggers and several fashion show events –, our world has just transformed into a new era. Clothes are not just a need, but a want that will eventually dictate one’s lifestyle. And Lola partakes in this extraordinary experience of her life.
I see Lola as a talented fashion designer. She may dress weird to some, but her sense of style shows her true self, her personality and attitude. She possesses a strong kind of confidence that any person couldn’t just easily bring her down. I admire how she doesn’t care about other people’s impression on her or what they would say about her. Instead, she continues to show her talent without any hint of shame or whatsoever.
Although Lola separates her way of clothing from fashion, Stephanie Perkins is able to portray that a costume is not that different from fashion – that both can be on the same category. A teenage girl with such talent as hers is so rare that every person will envy her. Lola proves her worth as a designer and she will surely have a great future ahead of her. This is manifested in the way she creates her costumes and alters Calliope’s costume for her skating performance. And I would definitely want to see more of Lola’s talent in the future, hopefully.
Story-wise, the book has some depth in it. Readers can never ignore the fact that Lola is still in love with Cricket Bell. Stephanie Perkins describes Cricket as the boy next door, both in literal and figurative sense, a geeky yet perfect guy anyone would aspire to be with. With that said, I came to love Cricket more than Max, not because of the looks, but because of the way he treated Lola. Max, for me, is the complete opposite of Cricket. It is also in Lola’s relationship with Max and with Cricket that readers will learn the true meaning of love. I, myself, will not deny that I feel giddy whenever Lola and Cricket are together. Although Lola’s past experience gives her false hope which leads her to the confusion of her heart’s true desire, she eventually listens to what she really wants towards the end of the story. After all, anyone will go for someone who will love you for who you are and accept your true self. That’s when a person will find “THE ONE” (for himself or herself).
Moreover, I love how Stephanie Perkins makes the characters become interconnected with each other from the past book. Although Lola and the Boy Next Door focuses on Lola’s life, Anna and St. Clair still appear in the book and are able to greatly influence Lola in her decision-making process about love. Anna and St. Clair have both matured which is apparent in the way they project their future life with something both of them can share, that their picture of their ideal future involves the other. The richness of their relationship is no match to Max and Lola’s relationship. Either way, I still vote for Cricket all throughout the story and Stephanie Perkins did not disappoint me.
As much as this is a love story, Stephanie Perkins also discusses the significance of family. Who would’ve thought that a person with gay parents is no different from one with normal parents? I can totally relate to Lola because her gay parents are just as strict as my parents (haha!). In the end, I am glad by the outcome of Lola’s relationship with Norah (her birth mother), her gay parents, and with Calliope (Cricket’s twin sister). As much as I loved Anna and the French Kiss, I came to love this book as well.