Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the 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.

minor spoilers

I read this book a long time a go, and after lending the series to a friend, they told me their favourite of all three Perkins books was Lola. I was surprised, as Anna is the usual favourite. The problem was - I barely remembered it. So, my plan was to download the audiobooks and have a little listen. 
I hardly remembered anything that it felt like I was reading it for the first time again. I love it when that happens. I remembered a few things, but it was enough for me to still be like 'oh my god, I forgot about this! That's so cuteeeee'. Yes, with multiple 'e's. 

Stephanie Perkins is such a wonderful writer. She has the most effortless style of writing, and as a person who finds it hard to read a book in one sitting, I could easily do it with her books. I'm pulled into Lola's world, and I can't get out until the last page. Her writing keeps me so enthralled that even if she just wrote about Lola just eating lunch, I'd be entertained.

This story is different in many ways in terms of other YA books - the boyfriend in books usually cheats. He didn't. The girl is usually a virgin. She's not. The girl also wants to blend in with the crowd. She doesn't. Her parents are the same. Nope. 
There are so many different things about this story, and I liked that. It also has similar formats in terms of what happens, but still, it's very enjoyable to have something at least a little bit off the YA grid. 

I adored Lola. Although she sometimes threw her teenage tantrums that made you roll your eyes - she's still a teenager. I loved her need to be unique, to not be like everyone else, and she felt so comfortable with standing out. Being herself was wearing whatever the hell she wanted, even if that meant donning blue wigs and wearing bright yellow raincoats in the middle of summer. Quirky, fun and a girl who knows what she wants, I found her fascinating to read about. I wish I was like that, as I lack confidence. 
Her character developed well, she really did realise that she had made some foolish mistakes, and she learnt a ton about herself and what she really should be. And by foolish mistakes, I mean being with Max. What a [insert a nasty word here]. What he said to her - both times near the end - still irritate the hell out of me. I would have smacked him, but I guess Lola is more adult than me. I was proud of how she handled it.

Urgh Max. He's so childish.
Anyway, moving on....let's talk about more characters!

And when there's Lola, there's the adorable, awkward and very tall Cricket. The boy next door. Squee! You can't not love this guy, he's the one who will treat you how you should be treated, tuck hair behind your ear and tell you you're beautiful. Although he'll tell you how it is, which I admire about him, he's very smart and also very kind, caring and forgiving. His creative ways of showing affection and that he cares are incredibly sweet, and his dorky ways are one of the many things I love about him. 
There needs to be more Cricket Bell's in the world. Sadly, he's fictional. Why is he fictional?

Calliope Bell I had issues with, but that's just Calliope being Calliope. And no matter how many times I say her name, it's still a strange name (not like Cricket is a normal name, but still). I love that she does admit defeat and becomes a better person near the end, but she was a tough nut to crack. A bit of a shit-stirrer, but the reasons behind it were plausible. I can understand, as family is important. I'm not a twin, but I know that they consider themselves each other's 'other half' almost (but that's just my experience with reading about Fred and George). Lola did sometimes become too indecisive and leading him on a bit, leaving poor Cricket to wait for her to finish with her boyfriend, so her actions towards her were understandable, although it doesn't necessarily mean they were good. She was still a bitch. Calliope could have handled some of her actions better.

I enjoyed the storyline about Lola's family, her parents - her uncle and his partner - caring for her when her mother didn't. They were fantastic parents to her, and brought her up well with such a caring and protective nature. Andy and Nathan were funny, understanding and sweet, and I was pleased that they were able to accept her mother into the house even though she's a massive let down. Also Nora's growth was pleasant, so I was very happy with her progress. Good on you, trying again with your daughter.
It's also a nice change to read about a gay couple bringing up a child together, which I thought was a wonderful touch to the story. 

Another thing I fangirled over in this book? Anna and Etienne! My darlings, they were in this book a lot more than I remembered, and I was so happy! Anna is my favourite book out of the series, so it was fantastic to see them again and to see that they're very happy together. Still. YES! I know what happens, obviously as I've read Isla already, but to see their interactions and to see how in love they are *fangirls* Etienne, I heart you. 
(Note - the narrator trying to do a british accent. Hmm. Well, a star for trying! I've heard worse)

Lola and Cricket had such an adorable relationship, and I think they're very well matched. Both different, quirky, accepting and caring people. Their conversations and ways of interacting were never dull to read about, and the tension - oh god, the tension! I guess that's been...taken care of now.

I will never grow tired of Stephanie's books, her stories are fresh, super-cute and always a huge pleasure to read about. I will forever recommend them to people! 

Wonderful, magical and fluffy! 


Anna and the French Kiss | AM US | AM UK | GR
Lola and the Boy Next Door | AM US | AM UK | GR
Isla and the Happily Ever After | AM US| AM UK | GR

Anyone else love this series as much as I do? Let us know! Come fangirl, tell us which is your favourite - Anna, Lola or Isla! I'm expecting to re-listen to Anna this week, so a review of that may appear soon, as we haven't reviewed it yet. And yes, it's an excuse to listen to it again............
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