After devouring "Anna and the French Kiss" with the kind of fervor I'd usually reserve for a Parisian pastry, I worried Stephanie Perkins' follow-up, the companion novel "Lola and the Boy Next Door," couldn't possibly leave me as deliciously satisfied (or weak in the knees). Boy, was I wrong.
Thousands of miles away from The City of Light, in quirky cool San Francisco, lives 17-year-old budding fashion designer Lola Nolan, who's anything but your typical teen. She dreams of dressing up as Marie Antoinette for her winter formal, dons colorful wigs as casually as you or I would apply lip gloss and has a super-cute (and much older) rocker boyfriend. Oh, and did we mention she also has a pretty sweet summer job at her local movie theater? ("Anna" fans take note!) Besides her two dads' unfavorable feelings towards BF Max, everything's pretty great in Lola's life. That is, until the Bell twins move back in next door.
Mean girl Calliope's a gifted amateur figure skater whose family's moved in and out of town to foster her gold medal ambitions. And she's had it out for Lola since elementary school. Then there's her brother Cricket. Oh, Cricket. Don't let the silly-ish name fool you: this guy is pure dreaminess. Tall (both in stature and hair height), sweet and super-smart. Lola's had a major crush on Cricket forever, but he hurt her in high school and his return's dug up plenty of unresolved feelings. Can she mend fences with the boy next door...who seems so inexplicably desperate to do so?
With a swoonworthy romance and a cast of unforgettable characters, "Lola and the Boy Next Door" is another unputdownable read from Stephanie, who clearly excels at imagining teens that are anything but caricatures. Sure, it'd be easy to pigeonhole Lola as some sort of angsty artiste, what with her over-the-top frocks and faux locks, but she's much more layered than that. As is boy-next-door Cricket, who gives Étienne St. Clair a run for his love interest money. The only downside? We have to wait until fall 2012 for the final companion, "Isla and the Happily Ever After."
Are you a fan of Stephanie's books? Have you read "Lola and the Boy Next Door" yet? Tell us in the comments and on Twitter!