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Content Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 384 pages
: Dutton Juvenile (September 29, 2011)
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In this companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss, two teens discover that true love may be closer than they think
For budding costume designer Lola Nolan, the more outrageous, the outfit - more sparkly, more fun, more wild - the better. But even though Lola's style is outrageous, she's a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins move back into the house next door. When the family returns and Cricket - a gifted inventor and engineer - 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.

  • Sexual Content:  Heavy
  • Profanity:  Heavy
  • Violence:  None
  • Other Notables: 
    • Lola's boyfriend smokes pot, and cigarettes
    • Lola's mom was a homeless drug-addict and gave her up when she was a baby.  She gave Lola to her brother and his boyfriend, who raise her as their own child, but Lola's mom still shows up from time to time, usually in bad shape, or in jail, and it's really hard on Lola. 
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I didn't start out loving this book as much as Anna and the French Kiss.  I had a hard time connecting with Lola at first.  I do NOT like it when girls lie about their age so that guys will date them.  I think this is SO wrong, so Lola kind of rubbed me the wrong way.  Plus, her choice in boyfriend just....well....I don't care for any guy that smells like smoke, let alone pot, so that was strike two.  But as I got to know her, and realized that there were definitely reasons that she was making these choices, Lola started to grow on me.  There's just something about Lola.  I love her more-ness!  More sparkles, more colors, more make-up, more hair, more personality....she just has MORE.  I think I would have way too much fun being friends with her. 

All of the characters were so fully fleshed out in this book.  I knew Anna and St. Clair were going to make an appearance, but I didn't realize they'd play such a big role.  I love seeing them again.  As far as the others go, I don't think there was one character that was mentioned that I didn't end up feeling like I really knew.  From Lola's fantastic friend, Lindsey,  who is always there for her, to Lola's two dads, who bake pies, force Sunday brunch on Lola's boyfriend, and go into attack mode if they find a boy in Lola's room, to her homeless biological mother, who makes it hard for Lola to really feel loved and wanted, to her boyfriend, Max, who may....or may NOT be "the one," to her neighbor Calliope, a figure-skating, Olympic hopeful, and even Heaven's to Betsy, Lola's dog, they each found a way into my heart.  Yes, even Max....kinda.

Then there was Cricket. The writing on his hands, his pants, his hair, the way he loves to invent things that have no meaning, but mean so much, how much he loves and supports his sister, the way he aches for Lola and what he let slip away.  I just love him!! 

One thing I really loved was the contrast between Lola's relationship with Max, her rocker boyfriend, and her relationship with Cricket.  Lola and Max's relationship is on overdrive.  Instead of connecting on an emotional level, they connect on a physical level, and things get hot an heavy quickly.  But when Cricket moves back in town, old feelings start to resurface, and soon Lola starts questioning what she really wants.  The developing relationship with Cricket is so subtle and slow and unsure, but the emotions and the tension and the deep meaningful feelings they have for each other are so much more intense.  All it takes is a brush of the hand to make me melt.  It just really showed how it isn't sex that "sells," it's love (and some serious freaking tension!!)

Speaking of tension....this book is FULL OF IT!  I'm beginning to think that Stephanie enjoys ripping my heart out and tearing it into pieces, only to put it back better than new.  My chest seriously ached for Lola and Cricket to find a way to reconnect.  I feel like I could go ON and ON!!  Oh, wait, I already have.  Ok, if you haven't gotten the point by now, I loved this book.  It was funny, and witty, and emotionally gut-wrenching, and fabulous, and sparkly!