Oh, this book. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins was utterly sweet and adorable. And whilst I preferred Anna and the French Kiss, this book still made me incredibly happy and I felt very emotionally connected to the characters right from the start.
I really liked Lola as a character. I loved her wacky fashion sense and her originality, while at the same time you can see how vulnerable she is underneath the outrageous costumes she wears. She's a loyal friend and daughter and feels the pressure of her unusual family.
Lola is also still smarting a bit at the events that occurred so long ago with her neighbours - Calliope, the talented and snooty ice-skater and her adorable twin brother, budding inventor, Cricket. And despite Lola's musician older boyfriend, good job and seemingly perfect life, when Cricket returns, everything in Lola's life turns upside down.
This book was so good. I really loved how reading this book made me feel as though I were there in San Francisco, seeing everything happen through Lola's eyes. I could just really believe and relate to her story. Her two over-protective dads are wonderful, and I felt rather relieved to read a story in which parents are portrayed in a positive and supportive light. I thought Lola had a great relationship with both of her parents, which felt refreshing as well as heartwarming. I also thought it was rather fun to see Anna and Etienne appear in this book as older friends around to give Lola some advice and to be a sort of relationship guide.
And in terms of Lola's lovelife, at first I was pretty conflicted. I really liked beginning-of-the-story Max. Being older, and a musician, him having a literary tattoo and being very patient with Lola's dads. But of course, in walks Cricket. And oh god, I love that Cricket is so very NICE and NERDY as well as HOT. What a winning combination. I thought the build-up to their relationship was really sweet, especially as we can see how inexperienced and awkward Cricket really is and how much he really wants to be with Lola.
The conflicts between them were suitably conflicted and angsty and drawn-out. There seems to be some pressure from Lola's dads and family members on both sides on who should be with whom, but I love that both Lola and Cricket make their own decisions here. There is also a rather sweet and important message about being OK with who you are. All in all, a really sweet and romantic read which I thoroughly enjoyed!