Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins Book Review


Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion… she believes in costume.  The more expressive the outfit – the more sparkly, more fun, more wild – the better.  And life is pretty close to perfect in Lola’s world, especially with her hot rocker boyfriend.  That is, until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood and unearth a past of hurt and anguish that Lola thought was long buried.  When talented inventor Cricket 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.

Although I can’t say I loved Lola and the Boy Next Door as much as I loved Anna and the French Kiss, I did really enjoy it.  Lola and the Boy Next Door is the companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss, and while you don’t necessarily need to read Anna and the French Kiss first, I highly recommend doing so because certain characters from Anna and the French Kiss appear in this novel as well! Similar to my last review I am going to split this review into two parts, Part I will be spoiler free and Part II will contain some spoilers.  Overall I do highly recommend this novel, especially to any people who are looking for a book that will make you feel like you are on happy pills.  Congratulations Stephanie Perkins, you are officially the queen of creating adorable relationships which melt my heart.

Part 1: The story begins and focuses on Lola, a seventeen year old girl, living with her two fathers, who adopted her from a relative with a substance abuse problem.  Lola is a complete fashionista who loves creating her own costumes to wear; she feels more confident in a wig and tutu than a pair of blue jeans and flip-flops.  Her dads completely support her fashion taste, however, they are less than thrilled about Max, Lola’s twenty two year old boyfriend.  Covered in tattoos and sporting bleached hair, Max is a parent’s worst nightmare.  Despite Max’s lack of parental approval Lola adores Max for his uncontrolled passion and his honest nature.  Although Nathan and Andy (Lola’s fathers) strictly control Lola’s relationship with Max, she loves her life of watching Max’s shows, sneaking off to see him, and spending her free time with her best friend Lindsey.

If Lola ignores the twinges of pain that occur whenever she looks at her neighbor’s house she is completely content.  Even two years later Lola is haunted by her memories of Cricket, the boy who used to live next door. Lola tries to push away her memories of Cricket, and she is almost successful, but then the unthinkable happens, Cricket and his twin sister move back into their house next door.  Cricket has changed, but will Lola let him come close enough to change her as well?

Part II:  (Beware of Spoilers: If you haven’t read this book go away and then come back and discuss it with us!)

I really enjoyed Stephanie Perkins’s focus on Lola’s family, because I find that often in young adult literature, many parents are cut out of the picture. In Lola and the Boy Next Door, Nathan and Andy play a crucial role in Lola’s life, and although she thinks they can be overbearing they do truly care about her.  Nathan and Andy are there for Lola when she needs them, such as when the Bells moved back in, but they also let Lola be free and embrace her uniqueness.  I also quite enjoyed the development of Norah, Lola’s mother, in this story.  Although Norah was not present for most of Lola’s life and has not been the best role model, her character was (in my opinion) redeemed when she showed that truly did care about Lola from her short period of living with Lola’s family in their house.

Lola is not your typical young adult protagonist.  In many books, characters are made to seem very wise and act older than their own age, and thus, I was taken back by Lola acting like a whiny, typical teenager.  However, her character grew on me overtime once I realized that she was just confused about what she wanted and who she wanted to become.  Also, I absolutely ADORED reading about the outfits Lola created.  Each of the characters had their own unique talents, but Lola’s was definitely the most spectacular.  I thought it was so interesting that she got to become a new person every single day, and while I would love to dress as she does, I am too self-conscious for that.  Lola’s strong personality is divulged through her attire because although she remains hidden under layers of make up and intricate costumes, she never loses herself or who she truly is.

In the majority of the novel, readers are led up to a moment in which Lola would finally explain what Cricket did to her two years ago that was so reprehensible.  Throughout the story I theorized that Cricket maybe cheated on her, or that he forced Lola into doing something she didn’t want to do, and so when I discovered the truth I was quite disappointed.  In reality, Cricket simply was not brave enough to express his feelings to Lola and then Lola was not invited to Cricket’s birthday party, and  this was his twin sister, Calliope’s fault!  Although I tired to sympathize with Lola and her feelings of betrayal, not being invited to a party did not justify her hatred of Cricket in my mind.

Cricket has become one of my all-time favorite characters.  He is quirky enough to be realistic and kind enough to be that perfect, loveable, ‘boy next door’.  From the second when Stephanie Perkins described that Cricket too had a great fashion sense I knew that he and Lola had to end up together.  I also really enjoyed that Cricket was  a ‘nice guy’.  Often in YA I read about very moody and arrogant guys who still manage to sweep the damsel off her feet, and thus it was refreshing to read about a character who even after discovering that the girl he liked had a boyfriend, would still be willing to help her create her dress for her winter formal.

One of my favorite aspects of this book was that Anna and Etienne from Anna and the French Kiss reappeared in this book.  They were not minor aspects of this story either, they appeared frequently and provided Lola with fantastic advice and support.  Also, I really enjoyed seeing Anna and Etienne through Lola’s eyes, because her perspective even further illustrated how in love and adorable they still were! When Lola described how Etienne and Anna always went out of their way to see each other, something inside me melted a little bit. Something I found interesting was that Lola’s difficulty in dumping Max and dating Cricket mirrored Etienne’s predicament in which he could not dump his girlfriend in Anna in the French Kiss for Anna.  Both Etienne and Lola were so consumed by their unhealthy relationships that they found it difficult to look for an after phase of the relationship, but similar to Etienne, Lola did eventually choose the person who was best suited for her… CRICKET!

When Lola broke up with Max, I was jumping for joy. I found it very realistic that Lola did not immediately go from Max to Cricket because like an average human being, she needed time to heal her wounds and find herself once again.  But, when she and Cricket did come together, it was like the icing on the top of a cake. While I did think it was a little juvenile and puerile that this whole book was leading up to Lola’s winter formal, the image of the two walking into the entrance of the dance hand in hand was the perfect end to the book in my opinion.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story, and look forward to more cuteness and adorable relationships in Isla and the Happily Ever After.

That is all for today! I would love to know if you guys like Anna and the French Kiss or Lola and the Boy Next Door better!


We Were Liars by E. Lockhart Book Review


A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island.  A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.  A group of four friends- the Liars- whose friendship turns destructive.  A revolution.  An accident. A secret.  Lies upon lies.  True love.  The Truth

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award Finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.  Read it.  And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE. 

I have sat staring at my computer screen for so long because I am unsure how exactly I want to present this book in this blog.  On one hand it is written beautifully with a dark and mysterious undertone which demands emotions to be felt.  However, at the same time I was unable to become completely invested in this book because I couldn’t connect with the characters, and logically, some aspects of this book were not plausible.  For this review I have decided to split it into 2 parts, Part I is going to be a spoiler-free review and Part II will dig deeper into the plot and the twist I never saw coming.  I highly advise all who are interested in this book to read it without knowing very much about the plot, and no matter how big your urge is to flip to the back of the book and read the ending DON’T DO IT!

Part I

Cadence Sinclair is almost eighteen years old, and she immediately tells the audience of her head-splitting migraines and her deviation from her perfect, old self.  She suffers from partial amnesia which started after the summer when she was fifteen, however, she cannot remember why.  She tells the audience that she endured an accident that summer in which she hit her head against a rock while swimming, although no one will tell her what exactly occurred. In that summer when everything seems to fall apart, Cadence vacations at a private island off the coast of Massachusetts which is owned by her extremely wealthy and privileged grandparents.  This island houses Cadence’s grandparents, her three aunts and all of the children they have; the older grandchildren, Jonny, Mirren, and Cadence along with their family friend Gat form a group which the adults call the Liars.  These four spend every waking moment together during the summers, however, when they leave the island these bonds are always broken by the distance between them.

When the story begins, Cadence is on the island once again, for the first time in two years, having been taken by her father on a trip to Europe which takes up the entirety of summer sixteen.  Upon her arrival, it seems as though she sinks into the same routine as summer fifteen; spending all of her time with the Liars.  Similar to all previous summers, the Liars rekindle their friendships, and she seems to be falling even more hopelessly and unconditionally in love with Gat.  However, the island and those who inhabit it are different this year.  The Clairmont mansion, a large Victorian house, has been completely torn down and in it’s place stands a modern, uncomfortable, and cold mansion.  Furthermore, her grandfather seems to be slipping further and further from reality, and the Liars are unable to explain  to Cadence how they spent their summer sixteen.  As Cadence spends four weeks on this private island she is determined to discover what happened during summer fifteen which changed life as she knew it, however, the truth might destroy her.

Part II: The Twist (If you haven’t finished the novel leave now and then come back and discuss the ending with us!)

Looking back on this book I cannot believe that I didn’t guess the end! I know that people more intelligent than I am were able to figure it out, but I could not even though Lockhart planted so many clues for the audience.  The deaths of Jonny, Mirren, and Gat explain why the Liars never responded to Cadence’s emails and why Cadence’s grandfather calls her Mirren occasionally.  Throughout the story Lockhart leaves the readers little details like how Taft thought that the houses were haunted, and that the new house is made from glass and iron which are non-flammable materials, but I never picked up on it!  While I was very shocked when I learned the truth about summer fifteen, I wasn’t exactly saddened by it.  I never felt connected to any of these characters, since the story is told from Cadence’s point of view. I theorize that maybe they were so flat because she did not really know who they were either; the book was constricted from Cadence’s point of view, and so I am unsure whether to commend Lockhart on her commitment to Cadence’s viewpoint, or to just simply believe that it backfired.

Even after thinking about this for days I cannot decide if Mirren, Jonny, and Gat were actually ghosts or if Cadence was hallucinating.  Although many do not agree, I fall more on the end of the spectrum who think that Cadence was hallucinating because it makes the story that much more tragic.  If she really did spend the summer with ghosts it feels as though Cadence was able to get more time with them and thus it is not as tragic.  For example in the story Gat and Cadence are rekindling their love, and there is one moment when Gat says he is sorry and that he made this so much worse.  From a ghost perspective it just seems as if the spirit of Gat wants to be with Cadence although he cannot be, and while this is tragic, it is still a two way struggle in which neither Gat or Cadence can love each other again.  On the other hand if you look at it as though Cadence was hallucinating it seems that Cadence’s subconscious missed Gat so much that she re-invented Gat and made it so he gave her flowers and made the tire swing, and then when Gat re-appears before her it was really her subconscious saying to her conscious that she was so sorry to herself because she has become attached to something which is not real.  Therefore, that to me is so much more tragic than if it was truly a supernatural story about ghosts.  Rather than a girl who gets to spend a little more time with the friends she lost in an accident, I saw a broken girl (almost like Mara Dyer) who is trapped in her mind, and is subconsciously suffering from so much pain that she not only wants to rid herself of her belongings like a penance, but she re-creates her friends because she cannot bear the truth that she was partially responsible for their demises.

If I try not to dig too deep into the logistics of this story I find that as a whole I really do enjoy it. However, looking at it from a logical and critical point of view it seems hard to believe.  The Sinclairs, who have just suffered from losing very close family members and friends, seem to unrealistically allow Cadence to escape into Cuddledown alone every day.  Furthermore, it seems so unrealistic that Cadence did not mention that she was spending her days with Mirren, Johnny, and Gat in the passing or that Cadence didn’t further question why the other Liars did not have to go to family dinners each night.  Cadence’s mother is also developed as being very concerned for Cadence’s mental condition, and thus if at one moment she was watching her daughter sleep, how could she allow Cadence retreat into isolation without questioning her.

Overall I did really enjoy this story and found it very haunting, however, I think there are some execution problems.  Despite these issues I think I would recommend this book to people not only because of the twist but because of the deeper themes of privilege and wealth.

That is all, I would love to know your thoughts about the ending, and whether you thought Cadence was hallucinating or really seeing ghosts.

Introduction: Welcome to my Blog!

Ever since I was a young girl I have escaped into fantasy worlds where I could live alongside paper characters. At recess, instead of joining the other children on the swing set, I could always be found curled under a tree with a book just under my nose. Even as I aged, I often chose books over dances and social events because there is something so beautiful about becoming lost in a world so entirely different from our own. Whenever I open a book I feel a flood of warmth humming beneath my skin because it allows me, even if only for a moment, to transcend our world and join someone else’s journey. Every single living, breathing individual has their own story to tell, however, I have always enjoyed the tales authors create in their fictitious novels the most. I love everything about books; the musty smell of the yellowing pages growing old, the worn page-corners which hint at beloved moments, and even the bent, broken spines which come along with any well-loved book. But, most importantly, I love that books harbor a sea of knowledge waiting to be unleashed, and so, I decided to create this blog not only to share my passion with the stories I hold near my heart, but also to share the knowledge I have learned from these stories, even if it only may be a drop.