Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

I was feeling really badly about not loving Lola and the Boy Next Door until I started reading other reviews, and discovered I’m not alone, here. Some people adore it every bit as much as Anna, but a good chunk, across the board, feel like I did: it was okay.

I started off reading Lola completely in love with the concept. Lola is an individual–she has a unique sense of style, and seems comfortable in her own skin. She’s different, her family is different, and she doesn’t mind any of it. I liked that about her. There were some things, though, that she clearly needed to work through. I liked that, too. Her (much older) boyfriend, Max, seemed like a point of rebellion, rather than the true love she constantly tried to convince herself it was, which was clearly a set-up for the return of the elusive boy next door.

Here’s the thing about Cricket: I didn’t get it. He was sweet. He was gangly and smart. But he didn’t really seem to have much personality. We didn’t find out much about what made Cricket tick–what he loves, what he does in his spare time, what he thinks about anything. Most of Cricket’s activities and decisions seem to revolve around either Lola or his sister, and I didn’t love that. I wanted Cricket to be a fully-fledged person, and it was hard to understand him or relate to him. He was sweet with Lola, but other than that, I didn’t much understand: why all the swooning?

Lola actually becomes more difficult to enjoy as the book progresses. Her actions seem unkind and selfish, and she drags things out forever. I don’t need my characters to be likable, per se, if I can follow the psychology and motivation behind their actions–get inside their heads, so to speak. I found it difficult, though, to understand what Lola’s dang deal was. She was SO heartbroken and gun-shy over Cricket–their Big Heartbreaking Thing was just a stupid little misunderstanding that could have been resolved with one text. I couldn’t follow her behavior toward her best friend, Lindsay, or the jumps in her emotions toward her boyfriend, Max. (For that matter, Max’s behavior made no sense at all.)

As for the writing, Perkins’ voice is the same–enjoyable, light, friendly–but I did struggle with the pacing in this book. Some things seemed to come out of nowhere, and I couldn’t really feel them with Lola. There are notes in my copy like, “Why is she crying?” I love being wrapped up in the emotion of a book, so I was just kind of frustrated. I felt like Perkins did a fantastic job with pacing in Anna, so I’m not sure why I couldn’t connect here.

Regardless, I did have a difficult time putting the book down. I think I enjoyed the richness of Lola’s world and the characters in it. Even if I couldn’t understand how they behaved, sometimes, I wanted to see the plot finish out, and I loved the little glimpses of Anna & St. Clair we got from time to time!  The second half of the book was definitely stronger, too, which helped. The pacing issues were still there, but the story picked up, so I didn’t mind so much, and there is one really great kissing scene. 🙂

Two f-bombs. Some instances of Lola sleeping with her boyfriend–no details. 3 stars.

First line: “I have three simple wishes.”

3 Stars

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