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In this companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss, two teens discover that true love may be closer than they think
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.
About the Author
Stephanie Perkins (www.stephanieperkins.com) lives in the mountains of North Carolina with her husband.
Read an Excerpt
The boy next door
is back in Lola’s life.
His name explodes inside of me like cannon fire. I move toward our windows. His curtains are open. The bags he brought home are still on his floor, but there’s no sign of him. What am I supposed to say the next time we see each other? Why won’t he stop ruining my life?
Why does he have to ask me out now?
And Max knows about him. It shouldn’t matter, but it does. Max isn’t the type to keep bringing it up, but he is the type to hold on to it. Save it for when he needs it. Did he believe me when I told him that I love him? That I don’t even like Cricket?
Yes, he did.
And I’m in love with Max. So why don’t I know if the other half was a lie?
OTHER BOOKS YOU MAY ENJOY
Along for the Ride Sarah Dessen
Anna and the French Kiss Stephanie Perkins
The Disenchantments Nina LaCour
Geek Charming Robin Palmer
If I Stay Gayle Forman
Isla and the Happily Ever After Stephanie Perkins
Just Listen Sarah Dessen
Just One Day Gayle Forman
My Life Next Door Huntley Fitzpatrick
The Truth About Forever Sarah Dessen
When It Happens Susane Colasanti
Where She Went Gayle Forman
Table of Contents
The boy next door is back in Lola's life
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A member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in -Publication Data
Summary: Budding costume designer Lola lives an extraordinary life in San Francisco with her two dads and beloved dog, dating a punk rocker, but when the Bell twins return to the house next door Lola recalls both the friendship -ending fight with Calliope, a figure skater, and the childhood crush she had on Cricket.
[1. Dating (Social customs)—Fiction. 2. Costume design—Fiction.
3.Fathers and daughters—Fiction. 4. Neighbors—Fiction. 5. Ice skating—Fiction. 6. San Francisco (Calif.)—Fiction.] I. Title.
[ Fic ]—dc23 2011015533
For Jarrod, best friend & true love
I have three simple wishes. They’re really not too much to ask.
The first is to attend the winter formal dressed like Marie Antoinette. I want a wig so elaborate it could cage a bird and a dress so wide I’ll only be able to enter the dance through a set of double doors. But I’ll hold my skirts high as I arrive to reveal a pair of platform combat boots, so everyone can see that, underneath the frills, I’m punk-rock tough.
The second is for my parents to approve of my boyfriend. They hate him. They hate his bleached hair with its constant dark roots, and they hate his arms, which are tattooed with sleeves of spiderwebs and stars. They say his eyebrows condescend, that his smile is more of a smirk. And they’re sick of hearing his music blasting from my bedroom, and they’re tired of fighting about my curfew whenever I watch his band play in clubs.
And my third wish?
To never ever ever see the Bell twins ever again. Ever.
But I’d much rather discuss my boyfriend. I realize it’s not cool to desire parental approval, but honestly, my life would be so much easier if they accepted that Max is the one. It’d mean the end of embarrassing restrictions, the end of every-hour-on-thehour phone-call check-ins on dates, and—best of all—the end of Sunday brunch.
The end of mornings like this.
“Another waffle, Max?”
My father, Nathan, pushes the golden stack across our antique farmhouse table and toward my boyfriend. This is not a real question. It’s a command, so that my parents can continue their interrogation before we leave. Our reward for dealing with brunch? A more relaxed Sunday-afternoon date with fewer check-ins.
Max takes two and helps himself to the homemade raspberry-peach syrup. “Thanks, sir. Incredible, as always.” He pours the syrup carefully, a drop in each square. Despite appearances, Max is careful by nature. This is why he never drinks or smokes pot on Saturday nights. He doesn’t want to come to brunch looking hungover, which is, of course, what my parents are watching for. Evidence of debauchery.
“Thank Andy.” Nathan jerks his head toward my other dad, who runs a pie bakery out of our home. “He made them.”
“Delicious. Thank you, sir.” Max never misses a beat. “Lola, did you get enough?”
I stretch, and the seven inches of Bakelite bracelets on my right arm knock against each other. “Yeah, like, twenty minutes ago. Come on,” I turn and plead to Andy, the candidate most likely to let us leave early. “Can’t we go now?”
He bats his eyes innocently. “More orange juice? Frittata?”
“No.” I fight to keep from slumping. Slumping is unattractive.
Nathan stabs another waffle. “So. Max. How goes the world of meter reading?”
When Max isn’t being an indie punk garage-rock god, he works for the City of San Francisco. It irks Nathan that Max has no interest in college. But what my dad doesn’t grasp is that Max is actually brilliant. He reads complicated philosophy books written by people with names I can’t pronounce and watches tons of angry political documentaries. I certainly wouldn’t debate him.
Max smiles politely, and his dark eyebrows raise a titch. “The same as last week.”
“And the band?” Andy asks. “Wasn’t some record executive supposed to come on Friday?”
My boyfriend frowns. The guy from the label never showed. Max updates Andy about Amphetamine’s forthcoming album instead, while Nathan and I exchange scowls. No doubt my father is disappointed that, once again, he hasn’t found anything to incriminate Max. Apart from the age thing, of course.
Which is the real reason my parents hate my boyfriend.
They hate that I’m seventeen, and Max is twenty-two.
But I’m a firm believer in age-doesn’t-matter. Besides, it’s only five years, way less than the difference between my parents. Though it’s no use pointing this out, or the fact that my boyfriend is the same age Nathan was when my parents started dating. This only gets them worked up. “I may have been his age, but Andy was thirty,” Nathan always says. “Not a teenager. And we’d both had several boyfriends before, plenty of life experience. You can’t jump into these things.You have to be careful.”
But they don’t remember what it’s like to be young and in love. Of course I can jump into these things. When it’s someone like Max, I’d be stupid not to. My best friend thinks it’s hilarious that my parents are so strict. After all, shouldn’t a couple of gay men sympathize with the temptation offered by a sexy, slightly dangerous boyfriend?
This is so far from the truth it’s painful.
It doesn’t matter that I’m a perfect daughter. I don’t drink or do drugs, and I’ve never smoked a cigarette. I haven’t crashed their car—I can’t even drive, so they’re not paying high insurance rates—and I have a decent job. I make good grades. Well, apart from biology, but I refused to dissect that fetal pig on principle. And I only have one hole per ear and no ink. Yet. I’m not even embarrassed to hug my parents in public.
Except when Nathan wears a sweatband when he goes running. Because really.
I clear my dishes from the table, hoping to speed things along. Today Max is taking me to one of my favorite places, the Japanese Tea Garden, and then he’s driving me to work for my evening shift. And hopefully, in between stops, we’ll spend some quality time together in his ’64 Chevy Impala.
I lean against the kitchen countertop, dreaming of Max’s car.
“I’m just shocked she’s not wearing her kimono,” Nathan says.
“What?” I hate it when I space out and realize people have been talking about me.
“Chinese pajamas to the Japanese Tea Garden,” he continues, gesturing at my red silk bottoms. “What will people think?”
I don’t believe in fashion. I believe in costume. Life is too short to be the same person every day. I roll my eyes to show Max that I realize my parents are acting lame.
“Our little drag queen,” Andy says.
“Because that’s a new one.” I snatch his plate and dump the brunch remains into Betsy’s bowl. Her eyes bug, and she inhales the waffle scraps in one big doggie bite.
Betsy’s full name is Heavens to Betsy, and we rescued her from animal control several years ago. She’s a mutt, built like a golden retriever but black in color. I wanted a black dog, because Andy once clipped a magazine article—he’s always clipping articles, usually about teens dying from overdoses or contracting syphilis or getting pregnant and dropping out of school—about how black dogs are always the last to be adopted at shelters and, therefore, more likely to be put down. Which is totally Dog Racism, if you ask me. Betsy is all heart.
“Lola.” Andy is wearing his serious face. “I wasn’t finished.”
“So get a new plate.”
“Lola,” Nathan says, and I give Andy a clean plate. I’m afraid they’re about to turn this into A Thing in front of Max, when they notice Betsy begging for more waffles.
“No,” I tell her.
“Have you walked her today?” Nathan asks me.
“No, Andy did.”
“Before I started cooking,” Andy says. “She’s ready for another.”
“Why don’t you take her for a walk while we finish up with Max?” Nathan asks. Another command, not a question.
I glance at Max, and he closes his eyes like he can’t believe they’re pulling this trick again. “But, Dad—”
“No buts. You wanted the dog, you walk her.”
This is one of Nathan’s most annoying catchphrases. Heavens to Betsy was supposed to be mine, but she had the nerve to fall in love with Nathan instead, which irritates Andy and me to no end. We’re the ones who feed and walk her. I reach for the biodegradable baggies and her leash—the one I’ve embroidered with hearts and Russian nesting dolls—and she’s already going berserk. “Yeah, yeah. Come on.”
I shoot Max another apologetic look, and then Betsy and I are out the door.
There are twenty-one stairs from our porch to the sidewalk. Anywhere you go in San Francisco, you have to deal with steps and hills. It’s unusually warm outside, so along with my pajama bottoms and Bakelite bangles, I’m wearing a tank top. I’ve also got on my giant white Jackie O sunglasses, a long brunette wig with emerald tips, and black ballet slippers. Real ballet slippers, not the flats that only look like ballet slippers.
My New Year’s resolution was to never again wear the same outfit twice.
The sunshine feels good on my shoulders. It doesn’t matter that it’s August; because of the bay, the temperature doesn’t change much throughout the year. It’s always cool. Today I’m grateful for the peculiar weather, because it means I won’t have to bring a sweater on my date.
Betsy pees on the teeny rectangle of grass in front of the lavender Victorian next door—she always pees here, which I totally approve of—and we move on. Despite my annoying parents, I’m happy. I have a romantic date with my boyfriend, a great schedule with my favorite coworkers, and one more week of summer vacation.
We hike up and down the massive hill that separates my street from the park. When we arrive, a Korean gentleman in a velveteen tracksuit greets us. He’s doing tai chi between the palm trees. “Hello, Dolores! How was your birthday?” Mr. Lim is the only person apart from my parents (when they’re mad) who calls me by my real name. His daughter Lindsey is my best friend; they live a few streets over.
“Hi, Mr. Lim. It was divine!” My birthday was last week. Mine is the earliest of anyone in my grade, which I love. It gives me an additional air of maturity. “How’s the restaurant?”
“Very good, thank you. Everyone asking for beef galbi this week. Goodbye, Dolores! Hello to your parents.”
The old lady name is because I was named after one. My great-grandma Dolores Deeks died a few years before I was born. She was Andy’s grandmother, and she was fabulous. The kind of woman who wore feathered hats and marched in civil rights protests. Dolores was the first person Andy came out to. He was thirteen. They were really close, and when she died, she left Andy her house. That’s where we live, in Great-Grandma Dolores’s mint green Victorian in the Castro district.
Which we’d never be able to afford without her generous bequeathal. My parents make a healthy living, but nothing like the neighbors. The well-kept homes on our street, with their decorative gabled cornices and extravagant wooden ornamentation, all come from old money. Including the lavender house next door.
My name is also shared with this park, Mission Dolores. It’s not a coincidence. Great-Grandma Dolores was named after the nearby mission, which was named after a creek called Arroyo de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores. This translates to “Our Lady of Sorrows Creek.” Because who wouldn’t want to be named after a depressing body of water? There’s also a major street around here called Dolores. It’s kind of weird.
I’d rather be a Lola.
Heavens to Betsy finishes, and we head home. I hope my parents haven’t been torturing Max. For someone so brash onstage, he’s actually an introvert, and these weekly meetings aren’t easy on him. “I thought dealing with one protective father was bad enough,” he once said. “But two? Your dads are gonna be the death of me, Lo.”
A moving truck rattles by, and it’s odd, because suddenly—just that quickly—my good mood is replaced by unease. We pick up speed. Max must be beyond uncomfortable right now. I can’t explain it, but the closer I get to home, the worse I feel. A terrible scenario loops through my mind: my parents, so relentless with inquiries that Max decides I’m not worth it anymore.
My hope is that someday, when we’ve been together longer than one summer, my parents will realize he’s the one, and age won’t be an issue anymore. But despite their inability to see this truth now, they aren’t dumb. They deal with Max because they think if they forbade me from seeing him, we’d just run off together. I’d move into his apartment and get a job dancing naked or dealing acid.
Which is beyond misguided.
But I’m jogging now, hauling Betsy down the hill. Something’s not right. And I’m positive it’s happened—that Max has left or my parents have cornered him into a heated argument about the lack of direction in his life—when I reach my street and everything clicks into place.
The moving truck.
Not the brunch.
The moving truck.
But I’m sure the truck belongs to another renter. It has to, it always does. The last family, this couple that smelled like baby Swiss and collected medical oddities like shriveled livers in formaldehyde and oversize models of vaginas, vacated a week ago. In the last two years, there’s been a string of renters, and every time someone moves out, I can’t help but feel ill until the new ones arrive.
Because what if now is the time they move back in?
I slow down to get a better look at the truck. Is anyone outside? I didn’t notice a car in the garage when we passed earlier, but I’ve made a habit out of not staring at the house next door. Sure enough, there are two people ahead on the sidewalk. I strain my eyes and find, with a mixture of agitation and relief, that it’s just the movers. Betsy tugs on her leash, and I pick up the pace again.
I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about. What are the chances?
Except . . . there’s always a chance. The movers lift a white sofa from the back of the truck, and my heart thumps harder. Do I recognize it? Have I sat on that love seat before? But no. I don’t know it. I peer inside the crammed truck, searching for anything familiar, and I’m met with stacks of severe modern furniture that I’ve never seen before.
It’s not them. It can’t be them.
It’s not them!
I grin from ear to ear—a silly smile that makes me look like a child, which I don’t normally allow myself to do—and wave to the movers. They grunt and nod back. The lavender garage door is open, and now I’m positive that it wasn’t earlier. I inspect the car, and my relief deepens. It’s something compact and silver, and I don’t recognize it.
Saved. Again. It is a happy day.
Betsy and I bound inside. “Brunch is over! Let’s go, Max.”
Everyone is staring out the front window in our living room.
“Looks like we have neighbors again,” I say.
Andy looks surprised by the cheer in my voice. We’ve never talked about it, but he knows something happened there two years ago. He knows that I worry about their return, that I fret each moving day.
“What?” I grin again, but then stop myself, conscious of Max. I tone it down.
“Uh, Lo? You didn’t see them, by any chance, did you?”
Andy’s concern is touching. I release Betsy from her leash and whisk into the kitchen. Determined to hurry the morning and get to my date, I swipe the remaining dishes from the table and head toward the sink. “Nope.” I laugh. “What? Do they have another plastic vagina? A stuffed giraffe? A medieval suit of armor—what?”
All three of them are staring at me.
My throat tightens. “What is it?”
Max examines me with an unusual curiosity. “Your parents say you know the family.”
Someone says something else, but the words don’t register. My feet are carrying me toward the window while my brain is screaming for me to turn back. It can’t be them. It wasn’t their furniture! It wasn’t their car! But people buy new things. My eyes are riveted next door as a figure emerges onto the porch. The dishes in my hands—Why am I still carrying the brunch plates?—shatter against the floor.
Because there she is.
She’s just as beautiful as she is on television.” I poke at the complimentary bowl of cookies and rice crackers. “Just as beautiful as she always was.”
Max shrugs. “She’s all right. Nothing to get worked up over.”
As comforted as I am by his state of unimpress, it’s not enough to distract me. I sag against the railing of the rustic teahouse, and a breeze floats across the reflecting pool beside us. “You don’t understand. She’s Calliope Bell.”
“You’re right, I don’t.” His eyes frown behind his thick Buddy Holly frames. This is something we have in common—terrible vision. I love it when he wears his glasses. Badass rocker meets sexy nerd. He only wears them offstage, unless he’s playing an acoustic number. Then they add the necessary touch of sensitivity. Max is always conscious of his appearance, which some people might find vain, but I understand completely. You only have one chance to make a first impression.
“Let me get this straight,” he continues. “When you guys were freshmen—”
“When I was a freshman. She’s a year older.”
“Okay, when you were a freshman . . . what? She was mean to you? And you’re still upset about it?” His brows furrow like he’s missing half of the equation. Which he is. And I’m not going to fill him in.
He snorts. “That must have been some pretty bitchy shit for you to break those plates over.”
It took fifteen minutes to clean up my mess. Shards of china and eggy frittata bits, trapped between the cracks of the hardwood floor, and sticky raspberry-peach syrup, splattered like blood across the baseboards.
“You have no idea.” I leave it at this.
Max pours himself another cup of jasmine tea. “So why did you idolize her?”
“I didn’t idolize her then. Only when we were younger. She was this . . . gorgeous, talented girl who also happened to be my neighbor. I mean, we hung out when we were little, played Barbies and make-believe. It just hurt when she turned on me, that’s all. I can’t believe you haven’t heard of her,” I add.
“Sorry. I don’t watch a lot of figure skating.”
“She’s been to the World Championships twice. Silver medals? She’s the big Olympic hopeful this year.”
“Sorry,” he says again.
“She was on a Wheaties box.”
“No doubt selling for an entire buck ninety-nine on eBay.” He nudges my knees with his underneath the table. “Who the hell cares?”
I sigh. “I loved her costumes. The chiffon ruffles, the beading and Swarovski crystals, the little skirts—”
“Little skirts?” Max swigs the rest of his tea.
“And she had that grace and poise and confidence.” I push my shoulders back. “And that perfect shiny hair. That perfect skin.”
“Perfect is overrated. Perfect is boring.”
I smile. “You don’t think I’m perfect?”
“No.You’re delightfully screwy, and I wouldn’t have you any other way. Drink your tea.”
When I finish, we take another stroll. The Japanese Tea Garden isn’t big, but it makes up for its size with beauty. Perfumed flowers in jewel-toned colors are balanced by intricately cut plants in tranquil blues and greens. Pathways meander around Buddhist statuary, koi ponds, a red pagoda, and a wooden bridge shaped like the moon. The only sounds are birdsong and the soft click of cameras. It’s peaceful. Magical.
But the best part?
Hidden nooks, perfect for kissing.
We find just the right bench, private and tucked away, and Max places his hands behind my head and pulls my lips to his. This is what I’ve been waiting for. His kisses are gentle and rough, spearmint and cigarettes.
We’ve dated all summer, but I’m still not used to him. Max. My boyfriend, Max.The night we met was the first time my parents had let me go to a club. Lindsey Lim was in the bathroom, so I was temporarily alone, perched nervously against Verge’s rough concrete wall. He walked straight up to me like he’d done it a hundred times before.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “You must have noticed me staring at you during the set.”
This was true. His stare had thrilled me, though I didn’t trust it. The small club was crowded, and he could’ve been watching any of the hungry girls dancing beside me.
“What’s your name?”
“Lola Nolan.” I adjusted my tiara and shifted in my creepers.
“Lo-lo-lo-lo Lo-la.” Max sang it like the Kinks’ song. His deep voice was hoarse from the show. He wore a plain black T-shirt, which I would soon discover to be his uniform. Underneath it, his shoulders were broad, his arms were toned, and right away I spotted the tattoo that would become my favorite, hidden in the crook of his left elbow. His namesake from Where the Wild Things Are. The little boy in the white wolf suit.
He was the most attractive man who’d ever spoken to me. Semicoherent sentences tumbled around in my head, but I couldn’t keep up with any of them long enough to spit one out.
“What’d you think of the show?” He had to raise his voice above the Ramones, who’d started blasting from the speakers.
“You were great,” I shouted. “I’ve never seen your band before.”
I tried to yell this second part casually, like I had just never seen his band before. He didn’t have to know it was my first show ever.
“I know. I would have noticed you. Do you have a boyfriend, Lola?”
Joey Ramone echoed it behind him. Hey, little girl. I wanna be your boyfriend.
The guys at school were never this direct. Not that I had much experience, just the odd monthlong boyfriend here and there. Most guys are either intimidated by me or think I’m strange. “What’s it to you?” I jutted out my chin, confidence skyrocketing.
Sweet little girl. I wanna be your boyfriend.
Max looked me up and down, and the side of his lips curled into a smile. “I see you already need to go.” He jerked his head, and I turned to find Lindsey Lim, jaw agape. Only a teenager could look that awkward and surprised. Did Max realize we were still in high school? “So why don’t you give me your number?” he continued. “I’d like to see you sometime.”
He must have heard my heart pounding as I sifted through the contents of my purse: watermelon bubble gum, movie-ticket stubs, veggie burrito receipts, and a rainbow of nail-polish bottles. I withdrew a Sharpie, realizing too late that only kids and groupies carry Sharpies. Luckily, he didn’t seem to mind.
Max held out a wrist. “Here.”
His breath was warm on my neck as I pressed the marker to his skin. My hand trembled, but somehow I managed to write it in clear, bold strokes below his tattoos. Then he smiled—that signature smile, using only one corner of his mouth—and ambled away, through the sweaty bodies and toward the dimly lit bar. I allowed myself a moment to stare at his backside. Despite my number, I was sure I’d never see it again.
But he did call.
Obviously, he called.
It happened two days later, on a bus ride to work. Max wanted to meet in the Haight for lunch, and I nearly died turning him down. He asked about the next day. I was working then, too. And then he asked about the next, and I couldn’t believe my luck that he was still trying. Yes, I told him. Yes.
I wore a pink soda-fountain-style waitress dress, and my natural hair—I’m a brunette, average in color—was in two buns like Mickey Mouse ears. We ate falafel and discovered we were both vegetarians. He told me he didn’t have a mother, and I told him I didn’t really either. And then, as I wiped the last crumbs from my mouth, he said this: “There’s no polite way to ask, so I’m just gonna go for it. How old are you?”
My expression must have been terrible, because Max looked stricken as I struggled to come up with a suitable answer. “Shit. That bad, huh?”
I decided delay was my best tactic. “How old are you?”
“No way.You first.”
Delay again. “How old do you think I am?”
“I think you have a cute face that looks deceptively young. And I don’t want to insult you either way. So you’ll have to tell me.”
It’s true. My face is round, and my cheeks are pinchable, and my ears stick out farther than I’d like. I fight it with makeup and wardrobe. My curvy body helps, too. But I was going to tell the truth, I really was, when he started guessing. “Nineteen?”
I shook my head.
“Older or younger?”
I shrugged, but he knew where this was headed. “Eighteen? Please tell me you’re eighteen.”
“Of course I’m eighteen.” I shoved the empty plastic food basket away from me. Outside, I was an ice queen, but inside I was freaking out. “Would I be here if I wasn’t?”
His amber eyes narrowed in disbelief, and the panic rose inside of me. “So how old are you?” I asked again.
“Older than you. Are you in college?”
“I will be.” Someday.
“So you’re still living at home?”
“How old are you?” I asked a third time.
He grimaced. “I’m twenty-two, Lola. And we probably shouldn’t be having this conversation. I’m sorry, if I had known—”
“I’m legal .” And then I immediately felt stupid.
There was a long pause. “No,” Max said. “You’re dangerous.”
But he was smiling.
It took another week of casual dating before I convinced him to kiss me. He was definitely interested, but I could tell I made him nervous. For some reason, this only made me bolder. I liked Max in a way I hadn’t liked anyone in years. Two years, to be exact.
It was in the main public library, and we met there because Max had deemed it safe. But when he saw me—short dress, tall boots—his eyes widened into an expression that I already recognized as an uncustomary display of emotion. “You could get a decent man in trouble,” he said. I reached for his book, but I brushed the boy in the wolf suit instead. His grip went loose. “Lola,” he warned.
I looked at him innocently.
And that was when he took my hand and led me away from the public tables and into the empty stacks. He backed me against the biographies. “Are you sure you want this?” A tease in his voice, but his stare was serious.
My palms sweated. “Of course.”
“I’m not a nice guy.” He stepped closer.
“Maybe I’m not a nice girl.”
“No. You’re a very nice girl. That’s what I like about you.” And with a single finger, he tilted my face up to his.
Our relationship progressed quickly. I was the one who slowed things back down. My parents were asking questions. They no longer believed I was spending that much time with Lindsey. And I knew it was wrong to keep lying to Max before things went further, so I came clean to him about my real age.
Max was furious. He disappeared for a week, and I’d already given up hope when he called. He said he was in love. I told him that he’d have to meet Nathan and Andy. Parents make him edgy—his father is an alcoholic, his mother left when he was five—but he agreed. And then the restrictions were placed upon us. And then last week, on my seventeenth birthday, I lost my virginity in his apartment.
My parents think we went to the zoo.
Since then, we’ve slept together once more. And I’m not an idiot about these things; I don’t have romantic delusions. I’ve read enough to know it takes a while for it to get good for girls. But I hope it gets better soon.
The kissing is fantastic, so I’m sure it’ll happen.
Except today I can’t concentrate on his lips. I’ve waited for them all afternoon, but now that they’re here, I’m distracted. Bells ring in the distance—from the pagoda? from outside the gardens?—and all I can think is Bell. Bell. Bell.
They’re back. There were three of them this morning, Calliope and her parents. No sign of Calliope’s siblings. Not that I’d mind seeing Aleck. But the other one . . .
I’m startled. Max is looking at me. When did we stop kissing?
“What?” he asks again. “Where are you?”
My eye muscles twitch. “I’m sorry, I was thinking about work.”
He doesn’t believe me. This is the problem of having lied to your boyfriend in the past. He sighs with frustration, stands, and puts one hand inside his pocket. I know he’s fiddling with his lighter.
“I’m sorry,” I say again.
“Forget it.” He glances at the clock on his phone. “It’s time to go, anyway.”
The drive to the Royal Civic Center 16 is quiet, apart from the Clash blasting through his stereo. Max is ticked, and I feel guilty. “Call me later?” I ask.
He nods as he pulls away, but I know I’m still in trouble.
As if I needed another reason to hate the Bells.
My supervisor is rearranging the saltshakers. She does this with an alarming frequency. The theater is in a between films night time lull, and I’m using the opportunity to scrub the buttery popcorn feeling from my arm hair.
“Try this.” She hands me a baby wipe. “It works better than a napkin.”
I accept it with genuine thanks. Despite her neuroticisms, Anna is my favorite coworker. She’s a little older than me, very pretty, and she just started film school. She has a cheerful smile—a slight gap between her front teeth—and a thick, singular stripe of platinum in her dark brown hair. It’s a nice touch. Plus, she always wears this necklace with a glass bead shaped like a banana.
I admire someone with a signature accessory.
“Where in the bloody hell did that come from?” asks the only other person behind the counter. Or more precisely, on top of the counter, where her ridiculously attractive, English-accented boyfriend is perched.
He’s the other thing I like about Anna. Wherever she goes, he follows.
He nods toward the baby wipe. “What else are you carrying in your pockets? Dust rags? Furniture polish?”
“Watch it,” she says. “Or I’ll scrub your arms, Étienne.”
He grins. “As long as you do it in private.”
Anna is the only person who calls him by his first name. The rest of us call him by his last, St. Clair. I’m not sure why. It’s just one of those things. They moved here recently, but they met last year in Paris, where they went to high school. Paris. I’d kill to go to school in Paris, especially if there are guys like Étienne St. Clair there.
Not that I’d cheat on Max. I’m just saying. St. Clair has gorgeous brown eyes and mussed artist hair. Though he’s on the short side for my taste, several inches shorter than his girlfriend.
He attends college at Berkeley, but despite his unemployment, he spends as much time here at the theater as he does across the bay. And because he’s beautiful and cocky and confident, everyone loves him. It only took a matter of hours before he’d weaseled his way into all of the employee areas without a single complaint by management.
That kind of charisma is impressive. But it doesn’t mean I want to hear about their private scrubbings. “My shift ends in a half hour. Please wait until I’ve vacated the premises before elaborating upon this conversation.”
Anna smiles at St. Clair, who is removing the giant ASK ME ABOUT OUR MOVIE-WATCHERS CLUB! button from her maroon work vest. “Lola’s just jealous. She’s having Max problems again.” She glances at me, and her smile turns wry. “What’d I tell you about musicians? That bad boy type will only break your heart.”
“They’re only bad because they’re lame,” St. Clair mutters. He pins the button to his own outfit, this fabulous black peacoat that makes him look very European, indeed.
“Just because, once upon a time, you guys had issues with someone,” I say, “doesn’t mean I do. Max and I are fine. Don’t—don’t do that.” I shake my head at St. Clair. “You’re ruining a perfectly good coat.”
“Sorry, did you want it? It might balance out your collection.” He gestures at my own maroon vest. In between the required Royal Theater buttons, I have several sparkly vintage brooches. Only one manager has complained so far, but as I politely explained to him, my jewelry only attracts more attention to his advertisements.
So I won that argument.
And thankfully no one has said anything about the vest itself, which I’ve taken in so that it’s actually fitted and semiflattering. You know. For a polyester vest. My phone vibrates in my pocket. “Hold that thought,” I tell St. Clair. It’s a text from Lindsey Lim:
u wont believe who i saw jogging in the park. prepare yrself.
“Lola!” Anna rushes forward to catch me, but I’m not falling. Am I falling? Her hand is on my arm, holding me upright. “What happened, what’s the matter?”
Surely Lindsey saw Calliope. Calliope was the one exercising in the park, as a part of her training. Of course it was Calliope! I shove the other possibility down, deep and hard, but it springs right back. This parasite growing inside of me. It never disappears, no matter how many times I tell myself to forget it. It’s the past, and no one can change the past. But it grows all the same. Because as terrible as it is to think about Calliope Bell, it’s nothing compared to the pain that overwhelms me whenever I think about her twin.
They’ll be seniors this year. Which means that despite the no-show this morning, there’s no reason why her twin wouldn’t be here. The best I can hope for is some kind of delay. I need that time to prepare myself.
I text Lindsey back with a simple question mark. Please, please, please, I beg the universe. Please be Calliope.
“Is it Max?” Anna asks. “Your parents? Oh God, it’s that guy we kicked out of the theater yesterday, isn’t it? That crazy guy with the giant phone and the bucket of chicken! How did he find your numb—”
“It’s not the guy.” But I can’t explain. Not now, not this. “Everything’s fine.”
Anna and St. Clair swap identical disbelieving glances.
“It’s Betsy. My dog. Andy says she’s acting sick, but I’m sure it’s prob—” My phone vibrates again, and I nearly drop it in my frantic attempt to read the new text:
calliope. investigation reveals new coach. shes back 4 good.
“Well?” St. Clair asks.
Calliope. Oh, thank God, CALLIOPE. I look up at my friends. “What?”
“Betsy!” they say together.
“Oh. Yeah.” I give them a relieved smile. “False alarm. She just threw up a shoe.”
“A shoe?” St. Clair asks.
“Dude,” Anna says. “You scared me. Do you need to go home?”
“We can handle closing if you need to go,” St. Clair adds. As if he works here. No doubt he just wants me to leave so that he can tongue his girlfriend.
I stride away, toward the popcorn machine, embarrassed to have made a public display. “Betsy’s fine. But thanks,” I add as my cell vibrates again.
Yeah. I saw her this morning.
Y DIDNT U TELL ME???
I was gonna call after work. You didn’t see . . .?
no. but im on it. call me l8r ned.
Lindsey Lim fancies herself a detective. This is due to her lifelong obsession with mysteries, ever since she received the Nancy Drew Starter Set (Secret of the Old Clock through Secret of Red Gate Farm) for her eighth birthday. Hence, “Ned.” She tried to nickname me Bess, Nancy’s flirty, shop-happy friend, but I wasn’t pleased with that, because Bess is always telling Nancy the situation is too dangerous, and she should give up.
What kind of friend says that?
And I’m definitely not George, Nancy’s other best friend, because George is an athletic tomboy with a pug nose. George would never wear a Marie Antoinette dress—even with platform combat boots—to her winter formal. Which left Ned Nickerson, Nancy’s boyfriend. Ned is actually useful and often assists Nancy during life-threatening situations. I can get down with that. Even if he is a guy.
I picture Lindsey parked in front of her computer. No doubt she went directly to the figure-skating fansites, and that’s how she knows about the new coach. Though I wouldn’t put it past her to have walked up to Calliope herself. Lindsey isn’t easily intimidated, which is why she’ll make a great investigator someday. She’s rational, straightforward, and unflinchingly honest.
In this sense, we balance each other out.
We’ve been best friends since, well . . . since the Bells stopped being my best friends. When I entered kindergarten, and they realized it was no longer cool to hang out with the neighbor girl who only spent half days at school. But that part of our history isn’t as harsh as it sounds. Because soon I met Lindsey, and we discovered our mutual passions for roly-poly bugs, sea-green crayons, and those Little Debbies shaped like Christmas trees. Instant friendship. And later, when our classmates began teasing me for wearing tutus or ruby slippers, Lindsey was the one who growled back, “Shove it, fartbreath.”
I’m very loyal to her.
I wonder if she’ll find out anything about the other Bell?
“Pardon?” St. Clair says.
“Huh?” I turn around to find him and Anna giving me another weird look.
“You said something about a bell.” Anna cocks her head. “Are you sure you’re okay? You’ve been really distracted tonight.”
“I’m great! Honestly!” How many times will I have to lie today? I volunteer to clean the fourth-floor bathrooms to stop incriminating myself, but later, when Andy shows up to take me home—my parents don’t like me riding the bus late at night—he eyes me with the same concern. “You okay, Lola-doodle?”
I throw my purse at the floorboard. “Why does everyone keep asking me that?”
“Maybe because you look like . . .”Andy pauses, his expression shifting to barely masked hope. “Did you and Max break up?”
He shrugs, but his Adam’s apple bobs in his throat, a dead giveaway that he feels guilty for asking. Maybe there’s hope for Max and my parents after all. Or, at least, Max and Andy. Andy is always the first to soften in difficult situations.
Which, by the way, doesn’t make him “the woman.” Nothing annoys me more than someone assuming one of my dads is less-than-dad. Yeah, Andy bakes for a living. And he stayed at home to raise me. And he’s decent at talking about feelings. But he also fixes electrical sockets, unclogs kitchen pipes, squashes cockroaches, and changes flat tires. And Nathan may be the resident disciplinarian and a tough lawyer for the ACLU, but he also decorates our house with antiques and gets teary during sitcom weddings.
So neither is “the woman.” They’re both gay men. Duh.
Besides, it’s not like all women fit into those stereotypes either.
“Is it . . . our neighbors?” Andy’s voice is tentative. He knows if it is about them, I won’t talk.
“It’s nothing, Dad. It was just a long day.”
We ride home in silence. I’m shivering as I climb out of the car, but it’s not because of the temperature drop. I stare at the lavender Victorian. At the bedroom window across from my own. There’s no light on. The cold gripping my heart loosens, but it doesn’t let go. I have to see inside that room. Adrenaline surges through me, and I jolt up the stairs, into the house, and up another flight of stairs.
“Hey!” Nathan calls after me. “No hug for your dear old pop?”
Andy talks to him in a low voice. Now that I’m at my bedroom door, I’m afraid to go in. Which is absurd. I’m a brave person. Why should one window scare me? But I pause to make sure Nathan isn’t coming up. Whatever waits for me on the other side, I don’t want interruptions.
He isn’t coming. Andy must have told him to leave me alone. Good.
What People are Saying About This
"Step backit's going to fly off the shelves."School Library Journal
"A delectable companion to [Perkins's] debut hit, Anna and the French Kiss."Kirkus Reviews
"Snappy dialogue...a lively romance."Publishers Weekly
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Lola, oh Lola, you astound me with your ability to turn me into a puddle of emotion. Lola and the Boy Next Door is the most perfectly executed and excruciatingly anticipatory love story I've ever read. Lola Nolan is - as I've dubbed her - badass chic. She loves to wear a frilly dress, but rocks it with combat boots. She dresses in costumes, not to disguise anything, but to be herself. And boy is Lola one hot mess of a girl. She has a sexy, rocker boyfriend named Max, but a strange and torrid history with her old neighbors, the Bell twins, who just happen to move back in next door. Unwanted feelings, 'traumatic' memories, and the best romantic tension ensue. Lola is one of those characters that are impossible not to love. Everything about her made me love her more. Her outfits, wigs, the way she thinks out loud - literally, she says it all out loud without realizing it - and the way she loves so completely. Her parents mean the world to her and she's not afraid to show it. Both of her dads are the kind of parents that YA is severely lacking and I loved their involvement in Lola's life. In fact, every single character is fleshed out and has purpose in the story. Andy and Nathan - Lola's dads - a pie bakery owner (via the kitchen) and a lawyer, respectively, are like any other dads. They enforce called check-ins when Lola is out, make the 22 year old Max come over for Sunday brunch, and freak when boys are in Lola's room. Norah, Lola's birth mom, even plays a role, by forcing Lola to open her eyes to things she maybe isn't willing to see. Lola's best friend Lindsey is not nearly as sparkly and colorful as Lola, but she's her best friend and is there for her whenever she needs her. Anna and Etienne St. Clair make an appearance or two as well, so if you loved Anna and the French Kiss, be prepared for some more fun from them. Then there are the Bell twins. Calliope comes off as very cold-shoulderish, but her years of being cut off from normal teen life as a world-class figure skater plays into that a great deal. Getting to know her and seeing her reasoning softens her a bit though. Now for Cricket. Yes, Cricket. Oh how I did not want to like him. Lola has a boyfriend and he's sexy and a budding rock star, who suffers through double dad interrogation, and I really liked him. But then I LOVED Cricket. How do you love a boy named Cricket? Read Lola and try not to. It's impossible, what with his tight pants, enthusiastic nature, and constant smiles. He's insecure, but somehow confident; a little geeky, but completely sexy at the same time; intense and funny and intelligent and selfless. He has this pureness and innocence about him that makes him perfect. But he's perfect because he's imperfect. His flaws - like Lola's flaws - make him a great character. The romance in Lola and the Boy Next Door is absolutely, stunningly, delectable. Never before have I read something that creates so much tension and anticipation and that 'pleasepleaseplease kiss' sensation so well. That's what Lola will do to you. You'll fall in love with these characters, with their lives, and their hopes and dreams. I know I did. Stephanie Perkins has more than done it again with Lola. She has outdone herself, improved upon her previous writing, and given us a story that will resonate with every single person who reads it.
I loved Anna and the French Kiss, so I really had high hopes for this one. I was keeping my fingers crossed that Stephanie's sophomore book would deliver. I'm happy to say it did! At first, I wasn't sure what to think of Lola. She's so different from any other character I've read, and such a drastic change from Anna. I also didn't identify with her as much. I don't have that artistic flair and tend to prefer to go with the flow not stand out in the crowd. But, slowly that characteristic really began to grow on me. She's everything I'm not, and I really admired that about her. I also admired the fact that she's a typical teen. With things begin to snowball, she questions who she really is. But, she soon realized that being who you are doesn't always mean fitting to everyone else's standards. A nice change of pace is that Lola is being raised by her two dads, who are really her biological uncle and his partner. Her mother occasionally comes in and reeks havoc in her life. I liked Cricket from the first time we meet him. I love how it seems like he just appears were ever Lola is. Some of it is coincidental, but other times you can tell he's making a valiant effort to reconnect with Lola. I enjoyed his personality. He's like a combination of nerdy mixed with a couple other "types", it's no wonder that Lola is so attracted to him. I found ironic that Lola never flat out told him that she had a boyfriend. It's not something I really faulted her on, because I could tell she was really struggling with her feeling concerning Cricket. It's funny how a book can twist around how you feel about things. I was prepared to dislike Calliope (Cricket's sister) and I did for part of the book. But, she really comes through in the end. I admired how the how family has backed her in her dreams. I think the fact that Cricket has put some much of his life on hold for her shows a sense of who he is and what's important to him. I also really liked Max at first, despite their age difference. In the end, I couldn't believe that he acted that way he did to Lola. But, maybe he was really hurt by her actions and this was his only way of expressing it. In the end, I decided that Lola was just as fantastic as Anna, but in an entirely different way. I'm amazed that Stephanie has managed to write two completely different heroines and their romances. I can't wait to read her next one!
Coming from Anna and the French Kiss, i expected a great book. The beginning is slow and horrible. The first 60-70 pages are filled with introductions. I understand introducing the plot, characters and etc is important, but it does not need to take up that many pages. However, once you get past the introductions, this book turns out to be great, and similar to Anna anf the French Kiss in the sense of a great teenage romance novel. Please disregard the horrible beginning and you will find it to be an amazing romance novel.
I can't begin to say how much this story touched me. Lola was a breath of fresh air and Cricket is the love of my life. I wanted to hold him tight and NEVER let him go. Read this book....if you don't enjoy it...you're a fool.
I really want Lola to be my friend because: 1. I love Pushing Daisies so much, too, and own every episode. It's just so pretty and Kristen Chenowith is a-maz-ing! 2. Thanks to Lola, I totally have my Halloween costume idea for this year and I have been obsessing over it since I read this book. 3. I love wigs too! (See previous Halloween costume obsession...) I don't have the guts to wear one outside of socially accepted holidays, but I sure wish I did! I look great in an electric blue, bobbed wig!! 4. Lola has two wonderful dad's who live in San Francisco, have a great victorian house and hold amazing brunches. (One is also a pie-baker, yum!) I just know if Lola and I were friends I could come to Sunday Brunch! 5. Lola has a great BFF, works with Anna, hangs out with St. Clair and has a fun, quirky boy next door. I would hang out with Lindsey and have a Veronica Mars marathon every day of the week! So, Lola has a great life, but it gets a little complicated (natch) when her former friends move back in town, right next door. She's dating an older, bad-boy, rocker and I loved the way this relationship played out. I have dated my share of borderline-jerky guys in the past and Perkins has spun this tale in a very realistic way. Max is not overtly bad or abusive and (although you know how this is going to all play out) you can understand why Lola is dating him. Let me just say this: In my experience, if your family and friends hate the person you are dating (as long as they have concrete reasons), you should not be dating them. Your loved ones are right, you are love-struck and wrong. Every. Time. Then... Cricket's back! Uh-oh! What's a girl to do?? Outside of the fact that he goes by "Cricket" (really?), he's a cute, nerdy boy who loves Lola just the way she is. Awww. Lola and the Boy Next Door was a fun read with interesting characters. Although there are no big twists or surprises here, Lola's journey is charming.
This book kept me hooked from beginning to end. it was as good as Anna&thefrench kiss.
Much like this entire series, Lola and the Boy Next Door is an easy, cute read with likable characters and a sweet storyline without any real lulls. It’s the kind of book you can accidentally read in a day and wonder where the heck the time went. Lola’s pants are on fire for 90% of this book and, at first, I didn’t know what to think about it. While I found myself asking, “WHY ARE YOU LYING???” constantly, it didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. I think it is because I have a soft spot for quirky characters and Lola’s unique style was endearing. Just like Anna and the French Kiss, I really enjoyed all of the main characters in this novel. I think, if I had to choose favorite characters (aside from Lola, of course) it would be Andy and Nathan, her dads. PS – I love that she has two fathers. They are beautifully flawed, but still manage to be great parents. Though the love story is a little stereotypical (the ‘boy next door’ part of the title is accurate in many ways), it was still very sweet. Initially, I was torn about Cricket’s character. It was obvious that he was in love with Lola from the beginning and I kind of was hoping she’d have to work for him a bit more, but it all ended up making sense in the end. Because, though she had his affection from the beginning, she still had to work to deserve it. The appearance of Etienne and Anna was an extra little nugget of greatness. I’d almost forgotten how much I love Etienne! It almost makes me want to reread Anna and the French Kiss! I’m excited about next book, Isla and the Happily Ever After. I’ve loved Isla since Anna and the French Kiss! Audiobook Performance Each of these books in the series has a different reader, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I enjoyed this audiobook reader. She wasn’t my favorite, but she wasn’t distracting in any way. She did a great job with Etienne’s accent in the brief moments he was in the book. Accents can usually make or break an audiobook reader (as can doing opposite sex voices).
not nearly as good as Anna and the french kiss, sadly i found Lola to be extremely annoying.
So, I am IN LOVE with Anna and the French Kiss, and I think Isla and the Happily Ever After is great, and if I would have realized that Lola should really come second, I would have expressed my appreciation for it sooner. Anna and the French Kiss is one of my absolute favorite books, so therefore, I clearly had to read the other two books in the series. So, so glad I did. I'll start off with my nit-picky things, to save the good parts for last. That's the way I roll. I don't think there was enough romance, especially with Cricket. I know Lola had a boyfriend and all, but I feel like there could have been more. Anna and Etienne still managed to have quite the spark even though he was in a relationship. I just felt like there was significantly more romance with Anna and Isla. I love that Anna and Etienne are in this, but it makes me just slightly sad, too, because it's not enough of a fix, you know? I'll just have to keep rereading their book over and over, I guess. Shame. ;) I loved Max and his slightly-bad-boy rocker persona, even though we're obviously not supposed to get attached to him. I loved the story of how they met, and all the little things about Max. As well as the things about Cricket, of course, but I liked the addition of Max. I loved the description of his ghost sitting between them on the bus. That was wonderful. I loved Cricket and Lola, and how especially how sweet Cricket was. Their discovery of their self worth is also great. I feel like it will help readers who struggle with that, too. Overall, this is another great read from Stephanie Perkins. And if you haven't read Anna and Isla, you need to do that like yesterday.
I read Anna and the French Kiss a while ago and absolutely loved the story. From that point on, I knew I wanted to read the rest of the books in the series. It's taken me a long time to get here, but I finally read the second one, Lola and the Boy Next Door! I actually didn't know anything about this book when I picked it up; I just knew it was the second in the series. And I have to say, I will definitely be reading the third! This was a really cute book. I loved Lola because she was so different from a lot of other YA characters. She has her own style and doesn't really let anyone change that. And Cricket was a neat character too. I liked that he changed his ways and made things up to Lola. And I also loved that Lola's parents are gay men; it really made the story fun and interesting. Obviously they aren't any different from straight parents, but I have to say that I don't think I've ever read a book with gay parents before. I really just love seeing diversity in books, so I was happy to read this. Overall, really fun book. I loved Lola's personality and Cricket was a great supporting character. I even liked Calliope because I could relate to her a bit. I do think this is a great YA series and I'm on the bandwagon with all the other fans! (:
Cricket made this book for me. I liked most of the other characters, but I LOVED CRICKET BELL! The book was a little slow at first, but I fell in love with this book by the end. I ended up giving it 5 out of 5 stars. Lola was harder for me to relate to as a main character than Anna was, and that detracted from the story a bit for me. She’s so outgoing and exuberant that someone who’s introverted and likes flying under the radar (i.e. me) wouldn’t really be able to imagine themselves in her place. But with that said, she was still an interesting character. Her outfits were kind of outrageous, and I admired her commitment to her style. I usually end up wearing the same familiar clothes, while she never wants to wear the same outfit twice. I loved Lola’s parents, especially Andy. I don’t want to give too much away, but they’re really not a traditional family. Yet they’re exactly what Lola, and the story, needed. I absolutely loathed Max. He was pretty much every bad boyfriend personified in my opinion. I wanted to punch him at least a few times while reading. CRICKET! OH MY GOD! I loooooove him more than I could possibly express. He’s so sweet, so thoughtful, so adorable, so everything. He chases after Lola! Yes you read that right. A boy chases after a girl! He’s #1 on my book boyfriend list right now. I really wish there was a Cricket in real life for every girl. Cricket is more than enough reason for everyone to read this book. He’s so worth it. For readers who liked Anna and St. Clair, or even those who didn’t, we get to see quite a bit of that pairing in this book. I was happily surprised by how much we did see them, because I thought we’d only see a glimpse here and there of them. I hope we get to see appearances in Isla and the Happily Ever After of both couples. I made way too many updates (18) on Goodreads while I was reading. There were so many swoon/squeal worthy moments that I couldn’t resist. Some of my favorite lines were: “It’s easy to talk about things we hate, but sometimes it’s hard to explain exactly why we like something.” and “’And your tight pants,’ I add. Cricket makes a startled choking noise. OH DEAR GOD. WHY WOULD I SAY THAT?” and “‘I like being different.’ ‘And I like that about you,’ Cricket says. ‘But I like the real you best.’” This is such an amazing series so far. I’m simultaneously excited to start on Isla’s story, and sad that the series will be over. I’ll definitely be rereading these books. Final note: This was a great book. Cricket is worth rereading this book over and over again. If you haven’t read this series, you really should. I don’t think you’ll regret it.
This probably contains what could be considered minor spoilers? I'm not a huge contemporary fan, but I read Anna and the French Kiss earlier this year because one of the people I follow on Tumblr posts like 500 pictures a day of these books. I'm glad I did. I loved Anna and the French Kiss and I liked this one a lot too. They're easy reads. Lola Nolan is pretty well happy with her life in the beginning of the book. She has a wonderful relationship with her two dads, she's got a hot older boyfriend, and she's planning and creating an incredibly elaborate gown for her winter formal at school. Generally, she's just an all around good kid. Her only problem in life seems to be getting her dads and her best friend to accept that Max is the one. Even though she's 17 and he's 22. So basically everything is smooth sailing for her until the Bells move back in next door. Then she is forced to decide between her first love and Max, whom she thinks is the one. So when the Bells come back, Lola is really concerned about having to see Cricket again. Because he apparently broke her heart into a million pieces two years ago before he moved away. The way she talked about it, you'd think that he did something completely horrible to her. But what really happened isn't nearly as unforgivable as she makes it sound. For most of this book, I thought that Lola was just being ridiculous. But I think Lola is just kind of an over the top person. She dresses in outfits that sound like she should be performing in the circus or something. She really exaggerates everything. Her indecisiveness about Cricket is really the most ridiculous thing about her. He's so OBVIOUSLY the one. Cricket... He just sounds absolutely adorable. He's kinda shy and nerdy and always blurts stuff out at inappropriate times when he's talking to Lola. It's so endearing. I just kind of want to snuggle him. I felt bad for him for most of this book because of his giant crush on Lola and she was all playing hard to get. And he is living in the shadow of his twin sister, Calliope. Everything in that family revolves around Calliope and her hopefully Olympic ice skating career. Lola helps Calliope see that Cricket doesn't feel appreciated at all in his family. Calliope comes off as kind of a witch, but deep down she really just has her brother's best interests at heart. He's her best friend and doesn't want to see him get hurt by Lola. But she eventually warms up to Lola and then I kinda started to like her. Max is a giant tool. Enough said. I don't really even know what to say about this book. I enjoyed it, but it drove me bananas that it takes the WHOLE BOOK for them to get together (basically had the same problem with Anna and the French Kiss). For the whole book I just wanted to scream, "KISS ALREADY!!" I love that you get to see more of Anna and Etienne in this book. I really like when books by the same authors have books where characters from their other stories show up again. I hope Lola and Cricket get to be as happy and blissfully in love as Anna and Etienne. So yeah, I gave it 4 stars for the simple fact that I was ripping my hair out waiting for my ship to sail.
I was quite surprised to find, after I started reading this book, that the main character has two fathers. I do not agree with homosexuality, as it goes against my religious beliefs, and I don't wish to read about it. I just wanted to warn other people who have similar views about these details of the book before they purchase it.
First and third were my favorite
So as many people know, I really liked Anna, but I didn’t love it as much as so many people did. I didn’t give it five stars. But I thoroughly enjoyed the story. And I had heard that book two was even better than the first, so I was excited to read this. Lola is the girl next door. But she’s anything but average. She’s quirky and fun and dresses the part. And her family is not traditional, which I absolutely adored. She’s also had immense heartbreak which she never seemed to be able to get over both with amorous relationships and with family. So when she meets Max and finally has a boyfriend, she thinks she can put the past behind her. But then the past shows up and she’s thrown for a total loop! She becomes awkward and makes rash decisions. And she becomes torn by her feelings. And this makes her untruthful at times, not only to others but also to herself. I love Lola. She’s so relatable. And she is well developed as she scrambles through the changes that have been thrown in her lap. Love, friendship, and the constant reminder of having to make the right decision weigh heavily on her for the entire book. Cricket is an interesting character. First I was thrown by his name. Honestly, I thought it was a girl’s name. So when Lola first talks about him and Calliope, his twin, I think he’s a girl. But that is quickly dispelled. Cricket is torn, though. Torn for his loyalty to his family and his love for a girl that he has never gotten over. He’s unsure of himself in tons of aspects, and he has demons he’s battling that slowly leak into his relationship with Lola. I love how he is not perfect. He’s a bit of an eccentric inventor who seems to following in his ancestor’s footsteps (he is related to the one and only Alexander Grahm Bell). If there’s one word to describe Cricket, it is loyal. He has this almost to a fault as he allows he loyalty for others to overshadow his very own needs. Talk about Lola being torn. Here’s Max, this hot rocker who loves her. He’s older but wants to win the approval of her parents and even wants to make future plans with her. Then there’s Cricket, the boy she’s always loved. The boy she had her first kiss with when they were just 5 and 6 years old but that she could never forget. And the boy who broke her heart. She has this undeniable attraction to him. And despite how hard she tries to convince herself that there’s nothing there, that they will just be friends, her love for him overshadows it all. And the attention he pays her shows it’s obvious that he, too, has more than just friendship in mind. I love how Perkins writes these contrasting relationships. Where Max is all hard and puffs himself up to claim Lola, Cricket is more relaxed and willing to be laid back and wait. And Lola sticks herself in between trying to figure out who “the one” truly is. Perkins even builds the worlds in a way of complete contrast. We see Lola and Max’s shows, in his car or van, with his friends. And while she tells herself she wants to be there, she feels almost out of place in this setting. Like she’s trying to fit in because the alternative, the heartbreak and overwhelming fear of what lies behind it is too much for her to handle. Her time with Cricket, on the other hand, is soft and refreshing. Their interactions as sweet and endearing. and unlike Max, Cricket is willing to give her the moon at the stars (and you'll understand why the stars are important when you read the book!). And of course there is conflict that tears the main characters apart and you truly wonder how they will overcome it. And Perkins knows how to write her insecure characters that learn to come into themselves. It’s great to watch them develop and grow. And I love that we get more Anna and St. Clair in this book. They make the perfect friends for Lola. Especially St. Clair with his no frills attitude and confidence. They are supportive while giving Lola just the push she needs to do what will make her happy. There’s a great deal of support from her best friend, Lindsey, to her parents, and even from her birth mother who has only been a burden to Lola until now. Even the dog, Heavens to Betsy, has a personality that you just want to hug! For me, this book was so much better than the first. More substance, more heartache, more development of characters, more of everything. Fans of Kasie West’s The Distance Between Us will want to pick this one and dive right into it. And fans of Anna will not be disappointed with where Perkins takes her characters next!
This book is honestly so good. I really liked it, just not how the characters acted sometimes.. I REALLY REALLY enjoyed Lola.. She may have been immature, a bit annoying, but she is different. And Cricket who is wonderful, sweet, and patient. Didn’t fight for what he wanted.. He just waited.. I guess that’s good but he should have a bit of a backbone.. This book is both similar and different to ‘Anna and the French Kiss’.. This is more about being true to your self, what you want and who you are.. ‘Anna and the French Kiss’ is about finding yourself, being content, and happy.. I also like how the story ties in with Anna and Etienne. After their France life, and show how they are. It’s just amazing to watch them to happy and their relationship is FINALLY easy. I really felt so bad when they couldn’t be happy. This book isn’t perfect, but it’s really good! I wasn’t completely captivated the way I was with AATFK. I love how the moon and stars tie in, that part is so beautiful. I love that Lola isn’t afraid to be different, and that she doesn’t care what others think. She makes bad choices.. But that’s part of who she is.. She is the type to learn from her OWN mistakes and not lectures. Everything about this novel is beautifully written. Everything just flows so wonderfully well that you don’t ever put the book down.. Until you realize its 5am, and you have work in two hours.. (Like me) Over all, I’m happy Lola is finally being HONEST with herself, and finds happiness in a love that never faded.