Lola and the Boy Next Door

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive 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, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket — a gifted inventor — 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. (Goodreads)

Alright, before I completely explode…let me just say it:

I LOVE THIS BOOK!

It is like a huge box of chocolates (and not in a Forest Gump-y way). It’s like a day at Disneyland (Um, THE happiest place on Earth, come on). It is sweet, funny and completely charming in every single way.  And because I enjoyed it so, so very much I find it hard to explain exactly how or why I loved it.  This is because no one thing in particular drew me in—everything did.  I mean, I was already a fan of Perkins, what with her insistence of making fun of Nicholas Sparks and with her creation of Etienne St. Clair and all (truly the only short guy I have ever found attractive). So yes, I expected to really like Lola.  I even expected to love it.  But it totally exceeded my expectations.

Maybe it’s because Lola is so adorably exasperating with her quirky fashion sense and awful taste in boyfriends (well, one of them at least).  Maybe it’s because she’s still so terribly embarrassed after her next door neighbor kind of but not really blew her off just when things started to get all romantical (this is a real word. I swear).  But man oh man, I love this girl.  I love that she embraces who she is without apology, all without coming off like some angsty emo chick.  She’s a funny, smart, sweet girl who’s never really gotten over her first crush.

And lordy, lordy, lordy, Cricket Bell—there aren’t enough words to describe him.  Instead of being the super-hot aloof guy who really has a big heart hidden under that tough exterior, he’s the total opposite in the most adorable, charming way.  He’s cute, but in a sweet, geeky, awkward way and his heart is out there for Lola to see. There are no pretenses. There are no games.  Holy cow I love that! He clearly still has a thing for Lola and always has, yet in the past family demands have always gotten in the way.  But things are different now. The situation is changing. Cricket is changing too.

And what Cricket and Lola have in each other is so completely engrossing and lovely.  I’d read their story again and again.  I’m a total sucker for childhood sweethearts and for best friends who fall in love. I’m an even bigger sucker for awesomely nerdy guys and for heroines who actually have lives and friends and families outside of their romantic pursuits, and for characters who know what they want out of life.  This book has all of that.

Crush Intensity: 5/5 I’m not sure if I mentioned this already, but wow, I loved this book.  Also, for those of you who may not know, Anna and St. Clair make many appearances in Lola and the Boy Next Door, which is, of course, another added bonus. Read it!

Etienne St. Clair: As Scrummy as a French Eclair (and perhaps just as tall…)

by Vee

For those of you who’ve been with us for some time, you may have noticed I’ve been MIA from YA Crush.  Then again, you may not have noticed at all, thanks to Tee’s awesomely, awesome writing prowess.  (Thanks for saving the day, MFEO.)

In any case, I’ve missed you and though things have been a bit hectic I still made some time to follow YA Crush’s advice — as the entire world should —- and read a few of Tee’s recommendations.

Anna and the French Kiss is the book you want to take with you if a) you’re going on a fun vaca and don’t want something too heavy to read (both figuratively and literally), b) you’re having a bad day and need something to help you escape, or c) you’re having a good day and want something to enhance that mood.

It’s light and airy, super fun, it’s sweet and delicious.  Opening this book is much like opening a pretty little box from zee patisserie filled with delightful morsels of puff pastries.  And the piéce de resistance in the book would be (drum roll please): St. Clair, the hottie that Anna has her eye on.  He’s so friggin’ adorable and sweet that, much like un éclair du chocolat, he’s liable to give you a cavity for which you’ll say “thank you” afterward and gladly go get a filling.

My one tiny complaint (no pun intended) is Monsieur Éclair St. Clair’s height.  What the?  Why???  It’s lousy enough that this happens in the real world — you know, you meet the perfect prom date but, alas, you can’t wear heels because he’d be setting his head on your shoulders during the “slow ones”.  This isn’t the real world, so can we please just make him the proper height for tucking-your-head-into-the-neckage-area action?

I suppose, as he is so adorable in every other way, the author needs to give him one flaw that isn’t insurmountable (ok, I can’t kid anyone, that pun was totally intended).  This made it tough for me though.  Every time I was immersed in his charm, laughing at his flawless sarcasm or swooning at the subtle ways in which he revealed his devotion to Anna (sigh), she’d mention the height issue and *poof* I would feel my swoon fizzle and dissolve like a flat glass du champagne.  (Now, don’t you worry about me, troops, he’s so scrummy it wasn’t hard to return to the swoonage.)

Thankfully, after much discussion, Tee and I came to the conclusion that, though she – being a taller girl than I – could truly not get past this, my fictional self (who will always exist as a young, naïve, teen girl) could totally have been his prom date because at 5’3 and ¾” there’s no way he’d be shorter than me.

With this crisis averted, I will safely add him to my fictional BF list.  Oh, thaz right, he is yummy-terrif enough to actually make it to my list.  He is not just adorable, he’s got just a little bit of a temper (a controllable one, which is juuuuust right), he’s smart, cultured and funny.  The thing that sent him over the edge and a certain shoe in for my list?  He has…wait for it…and English accent! (Not to be confused with a French or Italian accent, which do nothing for me.)  Now, not only does he have an English accent for me to imagine as I read through the pages but the author is kind enough to actually spell out the way he might pronounce things in his English yummy-talk once in a while.  This means my brain doesn’t even have to work that hard.  It’s a win-win all around.

I suppose one could say that in conclusion (if you need one) an éclair is just as delicious, even if it is a small one.  So long as it has an English accent.