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Bibliophilic Monologues

Lola and the Boy Next Door

Lola and the Boy Next Door - Stephanie Perkins Before you start reading this, let me just say that the following few paragraphs contain my opinion and you may not agree with them but I have a right to them. (The little girl in me wants to thumb my nose and go "so there" but the adult in me is trying to resist.)I loved Anna and the French Kiss. I really did. In fact, I still do. I have read it a couple of times and each time, I'm just amazed by how exactly it portrays love and all that gushy stuff. This should alert you to the fact that where Lola was concerned, my expectations were so high and so huge that NASA was considering orbiting a satellite around it. I'm just saying. Only, I didn't feel that Lola delivered. Oh, I liked it well enough. It was entertaining, it was amusing but it just did not have the same magic that characterized Anna. Obviously I'm aware that comparing the two is not exactly fair. However, the fact that Anna and Etienne are present as secondary characters in Lola makes it very difficult not to do so. In fact, when they are so present, I realize repeatedly that I'd much rather be reading about them than Lola. I liked Lola's parents. I liked how Perkins didn't make such a big deal out of her two dads. It was matter of fact. I also liked the whole discourse on whether identity is fluid and the person behind Lola, the chameleon. That was interesting and would (in an academic setting) make for amazing discussion. I liked how Lola finally came to some sort of peace with her biological mother. I thought that was well done. (So you see, I'm not lying. I did like the book.)What I didn't like is a bit more difficult to express but I shall try anyway. I didn't like Lola. I liked parts of her but in entirety? Nope. I didn't like who she was with Max, I didn't like how she kept Cricket dangling on a rope, and I really didn't like the way she treated her parents. I understand that she's a teenager and is portrayed as such. Does that make me excuse her actions? Not at all.To explain my problems with Cricket, I must talk about Etienne. The reason I loved Etienne was because he is a multifaceted character. He loves Anna but she doesn't define him. There is another story in him, there are several stories in him and while they all end with him and Anna, they also show him in many different shades. They make him three dimensional, into a real person who is defined by not just what and who he loves but what and who he is at the core of him. I didn't get that from Cricket. Oh I know that he has his own interests etc, his own problems but I just didn't think he was detailed in a way that made him the stuff of swoons. I liked him a lot. But...I don't think Perkins did Lola and Cricket any favours by having Anna and Etienne be the secondary characters. They are such vibrant personalities that Lola and Cricket suffer in comparison. I wish she had gone for some other new characters or given Lindsey more page time (the girl deserved it) or even had Calliope be more present. I also felt that some of the incidents in the book had a certain forced, contrived feel to them. For example when Andy tells the woman off for being rude. And also when Cricket does Lola's hair. Yeah, I don't think so. Believe me, people who compete at the level that Calliope does? Have their makeup and hair professionally done. And seriously, are we really expected to believe that the baby could kill a costume that effectively? And finally, the writing. As I told Cindy, phrases like "unguarded desire" make me wary. Especially when it appears in a YA novel. It's too reminiscent of Earls and bodices being ripped, hurhur.And there you have it. My review. I wouldn't use it to make up your mind about whether to read the book or not. Decide for yourself. You may love it. Me? I'm pinning my hopes on Isla.