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
Other Books You May Enjoy
An Exciting Preview of ISLA and the Happily Ever After
A member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Published by the Penguin Group | Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A. | Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) | Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England | Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd) | Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd) | Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India | Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) | Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa | Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
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.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review written for inclusion in a magazine, newspaper, or broadcast.
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
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.
I shall start this review with a warning¿ this is a gush-fest. Fan girl sighing, squeeing and high-fiving will follow¿ enter at your own risk.Stephanie Perkins is my hero. Yes, Anna and the French Kiss was phenomenal ¿ still one of my favorites. And yes, I do gush about it to random strangers at book stores and have even forced one or two of them to grab the book and rush to the nearest cashier. I can¿t always say its to buy the book or to call security, but whatevah. With that said, and, of course, needless to say, I was uber excited when I heard about Lola and the Boy Next Door. But even though I was convinced it would be just as wonderful as AatFK, I always have that little nagging at the back of my mind that maybe it won¿t be as good as the awesomeness that its predecessor was. Well, let me tell y¿all, you have nothing to fear!! It was AHHHH-mazing!Lola was as quirky and endearing as they come. I loved everything about her. Her fathers, her wonderful sense of style (the dresses, the wigs, the stockings and shoes¿ le sigh), her rocker boyfriend and yes, especially, the boy next door, Cricket. Love the name *high-five, Stephanie Perkins.* Cricket was everything a girl dreams of¿ at least, a girl like me (when I was younger of course). He was awkward, sweet, funny, and so lovable. I loved them individually and together.While AatFK had more of a fairtytale feel to it, Lola¿s had a more ¿real¿ vibe going. These characters may sound perfect, but if anything, they are perfectly flawed. They¿re not perfect, they don¿t have all the answers, and while I did have a goofy grin on my face for the most part, there were some moments that had me at the brink of tears. Lola and the Boy Next Door was everything that I could have asked for in a book. I have not one single complaint (well, maybe that it ended ¿ le sigh). Oh, and did I mention the many cameos that Anna and Etienne make¿ yep, they¿re there too (squee!). I loved it! I think you will too.
Lola lives in San Francisco with her two dads and a dog named Heavens to Betsy. She loves where she lives except for one thing: the twins next door could move back at anytime. See, Lola has a painful past with Cricket - a boy she crushed on who broke her heart - so when his family moves back in, Lola tries not to care (after all, she has a boyfriend now). But will she once again fall for the boy next door?With its quirky characters and fun set pieces, LOLA gave me the sugar high I was craving when I picked up the book. I really enjoyed getting to know Lola and Cricket, and rooting for them to overcome the roadblocks to their romantic attraction.One of the things which defines Lola is her habit of dressing up in crazy fun outfits, and the way Perkins described them made me want to dig out my old Babysitter Club books and compare Lola's clothes to Claudia Kishi's. Of course, I don't think Claudia ever wore anything as fab as Lola's Marie Antoinette dress!
Since the day I finished Anna and the French Kiss I have been waiting for another Stephanie Perkins masterpiece. She delivered it with Lola and the Boy Next Door. Now that I have finished this one, it will be a very long wait until Isla and the Happily Ever After! I don't think my love for Lola and the Boy Next Door quite lived up to Perkins's debut, but it comes pretty darn close.Lola as a character was a lot of fun, but it bothered me a bit at times that I felt like she was playing the classic "mean girl" role from time to time. I sat there just thinking, Lola what are you doing? Cricket was oh so perfect, I still am sitting here debating whether I liked him or St Clair better. I loved Lindsey, she is such a great friend.I LOVE that Stephanie Perkins had Anna and St. Clair come back in this one, while they were a more minor part of the plot I loved having them there. I just admire both their personalities so much, so it was so much fun to have them alongside Lola and Cricket!The plot was a ton of fun. I loved that is wasn't just a straight plot, there were so many little things going on, such as with Norah and other characters. I loved that it was so obvious where the story would end, but there were so many stops along the way.Something I love about Perkins's writing is that she doesn't give readers the obvious. With Anna and French Kiss, the plot is at this boarding school in Paris. Lola and the Boy Next Door gives you this story with a girl who dresses in costume, figure skating, and more. Yet, even though all of that is basically unknown to me, I find it so easy to connect to the stories of the characters because she makes her characters so real. They are flawed, which makes them like everyone else.After finishing Lola and the Boy Next Door, I feel like I need to go back and read Anna and the French Kiss and this one back to back, and it would make for about the most perfect day of awesome ever! Lola and the Boy Next Door is one of those books you NEED to read, its story will captivate you and the characters are just so lovely.
I don't think there's much more I can say about Stephanie Perkins' awesomeness or the unique feel-good dreaminess of her books, that has not already been said. Lola and the Boy Next Door is another contemporary YA romance masterpiece just like Anna and the French Kiss was.Anna was my TOP favorite book last year. It must be hard to follow up such an amazing debut. But Perkins did it flawlessly. While I felt Anna was mainly focused on setting development, I think Lola was more focused on character development. The parent's relationship was so powerful and felt so absolutely real that it drew me in to the point that I felt myself wishing I had two gay parents. It's an extraordinary family portrayal unlike any other I've experienced or read about. And this felt SO refreshing!Needless to say that my expectations were high in the boy department. While I don't think Cricket reached the levels of *drool* that St. Clair did, I think he was very well done and very swoon-worthy. I specially loved all the boy next door dynamics. And Lola! Okay. Lola was whoa. Probably one of the most memorable characters you will ever read! Absolutely loved her.Also, don't you hate all these instant romances in all other sub-genres of YA? I'm sorry but I don't quite buy it. Love happens, and it's complicated, and it takes time, and sometimes it works in weird awful ways, and others it just doesn't. I'm so delighted to read an author who can actually portray the innocence of teen years with the depth of the feelings in a believable manner. Not that there aren't others who do it as well, but this story just has a something that feels more true and relatable. And that is WHY I read.If you want to read about truly authentic teens in a light yet deeply loveable story, this is THE book for you!
This sophomore title from Stephanie Perkins lives up to its predecessor's fame. Lola is not your typical high school student; her love of the dramatic, from her older boyfriend to her fabulous costumes she dons on a daily basis, makes her stand out in so many ways. For those of you who loved Anna and the French Kiss, you'll be happy to see some familiar faces.
I had a difficult time with this book in the beginning. I didn't like the decisions that Lola was making and I was really irritated with her. Mostly I did not like her relationship with her boyfriend, Max. She was 17 while he was 22 and their relationship was very physical. As in they were sleeping together. Ugh. Especially when I know that in the end Lola will be with the boy next door, and not with the older man. It was just...ew. Everything physical was off page, but still too much. However, it didn't take me long to fall in love with Lola. Even if I didn't like her decisions in the beginning, she was such a sweet and endearing and quirky and original character. I enjoyed being inside her head (except when she was gushing over Max) and I loved how she grew as a person. She really did grow up and I loved tagging along as she did so. Cricket. sigh. Cricket. He is SO cute. Everything about his is just awesome. I love his name. I love his style. And I love how he loves Lola. I love how introverted and smart and sweet he is. He is a great love interest. Much better for Lola than the older guy. Perkins is so fun to read. Her stories flow and are addicting and so funny. I love all her characters, they are fully formed and their emotions are real. I love her settings, too. I really enjoyed San Francisco with Lola and Cricket. And Anna and Etienne. Yes, Anna and Etienne are in the book quite a bit. Much more than I was expecting. I really like this book. A lot.
Life is going pretty well for Lola Nolan -- well, her parents don't like her boyfriend Max, but that's par for the course -- until Cricket and Calliope Bell move back in to the house next door.Calliope is a champion figure skater and Olympic hopeful, but Lola remembers her only as a Mean Girl who did her best to make Lola's life miserable. Having her back would be bad enough . . . but having Cricket back is worse. Cricket was Lola's first love, until the day he broke her heart. Lola struggled to get over Cricket, but it appears that he may never have gotten over her. Now that she is in a steady, committed relationship with Max, why does she still feel so confused when Cricket is around? Worse, while Max grows increasingly distant and antagonistic towards Lola's family, Cricket is always ready to step in and lend a hand in a crisis, or to offer Lola a shoulder to cry on. Can Lola date Max and be friends with Cricket as well, or will one of those relationships have to go?This book is as fluffy and sparkly as one of Lola's signature outfits, but with strong characters and believable conflict as well. Lola is not always the most likeable heroine, but her struggles are heartfelt, and her sometimes bad decisions understandable. Cricket's boyish charm is likely to melt more than a few readers' hearts, too.Minor quibble: Cricket Bell is supposedly a descendant of Alexander Graham Bell, but both of Bell's sons died in infancy. He could, of course, be descended from one of Bell's daughters -- but then, why the surname Bell? Of course, this won't make a difference for most readers, and at some point Cricket's family line had to become fictional, so it's pretty much a non-issue.All in all, this was a delightful read. No doubt Perkins will be taking her place alongside YA romance superstars like Maureen Johnson and Sarah Dessen before long.
Lola Nolan thinks life in her San Francisco neighborhood is pretty great: she has a hot (older) rocker boyfriend, two caring (if overbearing) dads, and one dedicated best friend. When she's not hanging out with any of the above, she's either working at a local movie theater or creating her latest over-the-top outfit-cum-costume. But all of this happiness threatens to fall apart when Calliope and Cricket, her old neighbors and the two responsible for crushing her spirit and breaking her heart three years ago, move back in.In this companion novel to last year's overwhelmingly popular Anna and the French Kiss, Stephanie Perkins has crafted another swoon-worthy teen romance full of quirky, likable characters. Lola is a force -- yes, she is a bit melodramatic, but she's also full of life. I loved her endlessly wacky and inspired outfits and costuming prowess. The boy-next-door, Cricket, captured my heart with his lovable nerdiness. Their burgeoning relationship was both delightful and agonizing (just tell him you like him already!), though that's to be expected in a romance novel. My one real qualm was that Lola's original boyfriend, Max, was just too obviously wrong for her, making the inevitability of the end just that much more inevitable.Of course, it's not all teen angst and romance -- Perkins deftly handles the relationship between Lola and her mostly absent, often homeless mother, letting it evolve in a realistic manner, and Lola's friendship with Lindsey felt very true to life. I was surprised by how big of a role Anna and Etienne played in the story, but this should work as a standalone title for those who haven't read Anna (but if readers like this one, they definitely should!). This is a great pick for any contemporary YA lit lover!
Once upon a time, Lola loved the boy next door. It all ended very badly though when he broke her heart and then moved away. Years later, Lola¿s got a pretty good life with a bright future in fashion design, two dads who love her and a very hot rocker boyfriend. What¿s the one thing that could bring Lola¿s perfect life crashing down? The return of Cricket Bell¿the boy next door.If you loved Anna and the French Kiss, you will adore Lola and the Boy Next Door. Not exactly a sequel, though Anna and Etienne are big characters, and we get to meet a whole new cast of fun and unique characters. Including Cricket Bell, who fully brings on the fingertip tingling swoon! A great, fun and sweet teen read!
This was such a fun book. I love the characters and the descriptions. It felt very real, moved along at a good pace, and left me wanting more. Lola is a very unique main character who struggles with some unusual situations, all while being very easy to relate to. The book touches on a variety of "issues" without being one of those heavy issue books. Recommended for readers of Sarah Dessen, Susane Colasanti, Deb Caletti, or anyone who likes good books.
Amazing! Stephanie Perkins has done it again. This is Young Adult contemporary done perfectly. Main character Lola is nothing like the lead from Stephanie Perkins' debut novel, Anna and the French Kiss. This is just a testament to Perkins versatility. Add to that the fact that she made two characters who are so very different, but managed to make me love them both. I will admit that while I thought Lola¿s love interest was sweet, he didn¿t live up to the amazing St. Clair. That boy just can¿t be outdone. I totally dug the two dad storyline. As the plot dove deeper into Lola¿s past my heart just broke for her. A little darker than the events in Anna, but still amazing.Perkins has a gift when it comes to the written word. Pair that with an understanding of the teen mind, that as a mother of an almost teen I can¿t help but envy, and you have novels that are nothing less than spectacular. This is an author capable of wowing both teens and their parents. If you haven¿t experienced Anna and Lola¿s world you really must. I mean it. Like now! Rush out and buy or borrow these ASAP. You won¿t regret it!
Lola is her own girl, a future costume/clothing designer, dressing in ways that many consider unusual, some unique. She lives with her two fathers, one who is technically her uncle. Her mother, a woman with a checkered past, gave Lola to her brother and his partner to adopt years ago. So our story begins as young Lola is involved with Max, a 20+ year old lead singer in a band. Lola is pretty happy with her life, her friends, her developing relationship with Max, then who should come back to the house next door but Cricket, his twin ice-skating champion sister and their family. Cricket broke Lola's heart years ago, and she's never quite gotten over him and what happened. And, of course, as most fiction tends to go, she won't be able to avoid Cricket and must deal with her feelings for him. Lola's mother re-enters the story in a time of need, further complicating Lola's life.I really liked this book from the beginning. The characters and their emotions felt genuine. No one was painted with broad brush strokes - everyone had good and bad points, like we humans do. The emotions were not overwrought. I especially liked how Perkins showed that we all have different perspectives, and that what we (or in this case, Lola) think happens in a situation may not be the whole truth. I will definitely be recommending this to my high school students, and will check out Anna and the French Kiss soon.
Dear Stephanie Perkins, How I love your writing! Thank you for the days and months and years you slave over one book, because that hard work and dedication shines through every word on the page. It is practically perfect in every way.Hugs,EricaI loved Anna and the French Kiss, which I completely expected before I even read the first word. Not only did I love it, I was blown away by it. So I was expecting to love Lola and the Boy Next Door just as much. And yet ¿ I think I love it even more!Lola and Cricket¿s backstory is bittersweet. I don¿t want to say too much about it because Lola tells the story better than I can. I will say that, although Lola was undeniably hurt by Cricket, I had a hard time seeing Cricket as a bad guy in my head. He was such the quintessential nice guy in every interaction in the present day that I could not believe he would be capable of such callousness. But a bruised and broken heart is not easy to mend, so Lola is careful to protect herself from getting hurt by the same guy twice. Even when she starts to feel things for him again. Especially when she¿s feeling these things while she has a boyfriend who she swears she loves more than anything. Somehow their story manages to be both complex with so many obstacles standing between them and simple in the sense that they so obviously have a great amount of love for each other (and I don¿t just necessarily mean romantic love ¿ they genuinely love and respect who the other person is at the core). Watching them move around each other was a delight.Everything about this book exemplifies what an amazing writing Stephanie Perkins is. The attention to detail is impeccable, but these details blend into the story so well that I didn¿t even notice them until I thought back to the story and realized just how much I knew about these characters. In many cases such details can trip of the pacing of the book, but not so here. Instead they only serve to add depth to the characters and their stories.To re-iterate what Stephanie posted on her blog: Lola is not Anna. Cricket is not Étienne. San Francisco is not Paris. But Stephanie Perkins is Stephanie Perkins, and no matter what story she¿s telling, I want to be listening.
Lola and the Boy Next Door was one of my most anticipated reads of 2011. I just knew, deep down, that it was going to be all kinds of awesome just like Anna and the French Kiss was. Let me tell you, Lola is just as good¿maybe even better than Anna! WOWZERS! Lola is one unique character and she will always stand out in my mind as one of the most distinctive characters I¿ve read in young adult literature. I loved her from the first page all of the way to the end. She never got on my nerves, I understood her thoughts and feelings, and she never did too many irrational (only a couple), spur of the moment type things in regards to boys. Many readers mention many young adult books have ¿missing/bad/uncaring parents.¿ Lola has two dads (also has a great detective/Nancy Drew loving bestie-had to mention this) who actually care about who their daughter dates and are active in her life¿Lola got grounded a couple of time during her story. She does have a birth mother who has her problems and reminded me of my own mother. Lola at one point thought this:"Why is it so impossible for her to be a normal adult?"I practically have that same thought every day about my own mother.Now on to ¿the Boy Next Door¿¿Cricket. I know the name is crazy and out there (people have called my name crazy), but it works for him and I never thought his name to be outlandish while reading. He¿s just all sorts of awesomeness and is super sweet and shy. The romance in the story¿perfect, sweet, adorable¿I could go on and on! Cricket said the following¿so you know he¿s the best guy around!"I know you aren't perfect. But it's a person's imperfections that make them perfect for someone else."Stephanie Perkins knows how to tell a story. She makes her stories unique by adding components such as ice skating (I watched tons of this as a child!), inventions, and costume wearing. She has become an author who I will pick up a book she's written without even caring what it¿s about. I read Lola in less than 24 hours¿I was glued to this book! P.S. Fans of Anna and the French Kiss will be happy to know that Anna and St. Clair make numerous appearances throughout the book!
Happy sighs, twirls and twinkle lights. Loved, loved, loved this book. Loved it far more than it's predecessor, Anna and the French Kiss. Perkins writes amazing leading ladies, but Lola outshines Anna like a supernova does a light bulb.Lola is 17 and in a relationship with Max, a 22 year old bad boy in a band. He's everything your mother wants you to stay away from...sounds delicious doesn't he? Her parents were far more tolerable than most would have been. She likes him for his, edginess, the rawness that comes across in his music. He likes her because she's a young thing dressed as a strawberry. Get your shotguns, dads.But Max isn't her first love. A few years before she fell pink-wigged-head over platform-combat-boot-heels for Cricket Bell, the very tall, very odd, boy next door, you know, that boy, the one who broke her heart. Cricket and his family would pop in and out of the house next door; his sister's ice-skating career moving them frequently to different places around the country. It's been two years since the Bells have inhabited the lavender Victorian and despite the many wishes Lola has made that they never return- they've moved back in. And you know what they say about your first love...you never get over it.Lola is such a quirky, unique character, with her flamboyant costumes and her life covered in glitter. Lola never plays at being whoever or whatever it is she's dressed as. She revels in the clothes themselves, her attire serving only to accent Lola. I grew insanely jealous as I read each and every outfit change, and her reasons behind what she wore. I'd love the freedom to randomly show up somewhere in a tutu, to rock a raincoat on a sunny day simply because I liked the color. She was so creative and imaginative. I missed her for days once the book was over.
So, I know everybody and their mother that hasn't already read it is dying for the upcoming release of Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. I was definitely no exception - I could not wait to get my hands on it after the brilliant awesomeness that is Anna and the French Kiss. However - while Lola had a lot of amazing things going for it, it didn't live up to Anna for me.Stephanie Perkins is so flippin' fantastic at weaving tons of detail into her writing that it is unreal. Seriously, I was in awe of this in her first book and it is nothing is not stepped up even higher in Lola. The personalities of Lola and Cricket are outstanding...and all the secondary characters are richly fleshed out as well. Seriously, I bow down to the master. Everything from Cricket's crazy inventions as a kid to the kinds of candy Lola leaves lying around her room add so much depth and realism to the story. I could rave about it forever. I loved Lola's dads, their dog (with the awesome name Heavens to Betsy), and even the characters we're meant to dislike are brought to life so well that it is easy to imagine knowing them.Also, don't even get me started on the repeated appearances of Anna and St. Clair. Swoon. SWOON.Unfortunately, it was the plot of the story that didn't work as well for me as Anna. Don't get me wrong - I still liked it a lot and plan on adding the book to my shelves when it is released, I just want to caution you to lower your expectations just a tiny bit so you won't feel the same twinge of disappointment I did. Lola and Cricket had a lot of things keeping them apart in this book just like Anna and St. Clair had in their story - however, in the first book I felt like there were so many circumstances in the way that they simply couldn't have come together any sooner or in a better way. In this book, I wanted to punch Lola in the face for being so immature. Seriously, Cricket was there. Waiting for her. Loving her. Being there for her. She was stubbornly dating a JERK, bound and determined to prove to everyone that she was right. Holy Toledo was it frustrating.Anyway, this is obviously all just my personal preference, because I know the vast majority of people who have read it really do love it more than Anna. I just wanted to add my cautionary note to those of you that might feel the same way I do - prepare to enjoy the story, just don't read it with a constant comparison in mind!
Stephanie Perkins sure knows how to write good romance!! I think it may have taken me a little longer to warm up to this book than to Anna and the French Kiss, but probably because you don't see a lot of Cricket in the beginning. How can you not fall in love with Cricket Bell? I really enjoyed all of the characters in this book. They all had distinct personalities... ALL of them. Well done! I would have given the book 5 stars if it weren't predictable.
Lola is a quirky and eccentric teenager aspiring to be the next big fashion designer. She likes to wear the most outlandish clothing and wigs. Lola fits in perfectly in artsy San Francisco with her two dads and has grown up in one of the beautiful Victorian homes next door to the twins, Cricket and Calliope Bell. They used to be inseparable as children and things changed once Cricket broke Lola's heart. However, things are different for Lola now. The Bells have moved away to accommodate Calliope's figure skating career and Lola has an older rocker boyfriend now. Things are going smoothly for Lola until the Bells move back next door along with Cricket. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins truly captures first love and captured my heart as well.After reading Anna and the French Kiss, I knew I HAD to get my hands on a copy of Lola and the Boy Next Door. Much to my surprise, I realized that it is very different from Anna and the French Kiss, which I've come to realize is both good and bad. Lola was harder for me to relate to than Anna. She's a bit out there, overly dramatic and a tad selfish. I really couldn't connect with her like I could Anna. Cricket makes for a really cute love interest, because he's a bit on the nerdy side as he's an aspiring inventor. He is constantly in the shadow of his figure skating phenom sister, Calliope, and is trying to find his way. I didn't like how he was bossed around by Calliope; I wanted him to grow a pair and that in itself frustrated me. Cricket is a downright good guy though and lets be honest, we need that in YA. Also, I must point out how much I LOVED Lola's dads. They were fantastic and I wish there were more books out there that showcase a family dynamic like Lola's. Perkins' writing style is enthralling. Even though I couldn't relate to the characters as much as I had hoped for, I was still very much so invested in Lola and the Boy Next Door. I really enjoy her writing style and before I knew it, I finished the book. Perkins reminds me so much of Sarah Dessen in that she can take a character, one that I don't necessarily relate to, and make me sympathize and root for her. I love that about Perkins!I also adored the concept of the "boy next door" as most people had something like that in their lives at some point. Perkins does a brilliant job of capturing this and making it magical. The stolen glances, the talking through the windows, the peeking across the space between the two houses, the long walks in the neighborhood....I loved it. It was so very Dawson's Creek. (*sigh*) One of the best parts of Lola and the Boy Next Door is the fact that Anna and St. Clair are in the book. St. Clair is his usual swoon-worthy self and it was nice to be revisited by Anna. I liked how Perkins weaved the two story lines together. Also, just like in Anna and the French Kiss, the setting of the novel becomes just as important and while Paris is a bit more romantic (in my opinion) than San Francisco, she still made the city come to life. It was the perfect location for a zany girl like Lola.All in all, Lola and the Boy Next Door is a delightful read that will take readers back to their first childhood crushes. Although it lacked some of the magic that Anna and the French Kiss had, I still recommend it for fans of contemporary fiction as well as Sarah Dessen. I am a huge fan of Stephanie Perkins and can't wait to read her third book, Isla and the Happily Ever After, which comes out in 2012 and I hear takes place in Paris! Merci beaucoup, Ms. Perkins!
I liked but didn't love Anna and the Fench Kiss but oh my GOD, Lola and the Boy Next Door is amazing. It takes place in the same universe as Anna, but the worlds collide in the most unique sense (which I liked a lot). But what's truly wonderful about this book is Lola herself. Many YA characters, especially in chick lit, are the same or are trying to hard. What makes Lola different is that she's already herself, even if sometimes she doesn't see it. She's an amazingly strong character and Perkins has given her an uphill battle (related to her birth parents) that should be cliche but worked perfectly for me. One of the things I loved about this book was Lola's parents (her two dads) and best friend. Instead of being a burden on the plot or getting in the way of the story, they were vital to the plot. Her dads were strict for a reason and it seemed very real to me, along with Lola's relationships with her bff, Max and the fantastically named Cricket. I honestly loved pretty much everything about this book -- including the heartache and especially the last two chapters. I didn't want the book to end. While I don't much like chick lit, I do like the YA kind and Lola is possibly one of my favorites. I almost want to read this book all over again.