I’ve tried to write a review of Lola and the Boy Next Door at least four times now with absolutely no success. I liked it, I really did, I just can’t quite figure out why.
Let’s start with the plot: Lola lives in San Francisco with her two dads. She’s a budding fashion designer who never wears the same outfit twice, loves wigs, and is a whiz with a sewing machine. She’s dating Max, a super cool guy who plays in a band that’s gaining popularity – and is also several years older than her. She’s really happy with her life until Cricket, the boy next door, moves back in and destroys everything.
Aside from the major plot points, Lola and the Boy Next Door is extremely similar to Anna and the French Kiss. The plot develops almost identically. Anna and St. Clair are even featured pretty heavily in this book – much more than I would have expected.
I’m trying to come up with a list of things I liked in this book, and I’m drawing a blank. The only thing I can really think of is Cricket. He’s a great character, and it’s obvious from the beginning that he’d be a better choice for Lola. While Max is always pushing people away, Cricket draws them in. While Max acts like Lola embarrasses him (so, I wonder, why is he dating her?), Cricket is happy to be seen in public with her, happy to do whatever she’s interested in. Max is uncomfortable with Lola’s dads (parents in general, I think), but Cricket is almost part of the family, and he knows her deep, dark secrets, right down to who her mother is and all the issues that come with that.
And it’s because of this that I really couldn’t understand why Lola stayed with Max as long as she did. As the book continued, he became a progressively worse character – blowing her off, treating her like a child, being downright mean – and she still clung to him. Even when Lola realized that her feelings for Cricket were developing into more than just a silly childhood crush, she still insisted on trying to save her failing relationship with Max. He’s not being himself, she thinks. He’s uncomfortable spending time with my friends, she rationalizes. He’ll be better when we’re alone. And so she stays with him. And he’s never better. He just gets worse. I didn’t really understand that, and it’s the same thing that bothered me about Anna and the French Kiss, in which St. Clair knows he’d rather be with Anna, but won’t break up with Ellie. It seems to be a pattern in these books, and it’s probably the only part that I really can’t get into.
Lola was a bit of a drama queen, and I feel like a lot of her problems could have been solved if she just calmed down. Example: when she finds out that Cricket is moving back in next door, she literally drops a stack of plates and passes out. I thought Cricket was going to have, like, some crazy, dark, possibly murderous secret. But no, it’s just Lola’s childhood crush moving back in. No big deal, really, except that Lola is a drama queen. Another example: Lola has hated Cricket for two years because of a misunderstanding they had on his last day in town. If she had just spoken with him, she would have realized that. Instead, she passes out and drops a stack of plates at the mention of his name. Drama queen.
But aside from all of that, I did really like the book. It’s cute, in the same way that Anna and the French Kiss is cute. If you liked that book, you’ll most likely like Lola and the Boy Next Door as well.
Final rating: ★★★★☆