Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Perkins is definitely trying for the "next Sarah Dessen" slot, first with Anna and the French Kiss and now with Lola and the Boy Next Door. This time we're in San Francisco, and Lola is one of those "quirky" kids, constantly experimenting with her costume/look (think lots of wigs, interesting clothing combinations, unusual accent choices). She's dating a guitarist, Max, who is five years older (22 to her 17) and works reading meters for the City when he's not doing the music thing. Natually, this irritates her parents, a gay couple named Norman and Andy, so there are lots of fights about curfews and checking in, etc.. She's got one best friend, Lindsey, and a work friend (Anna, she of the french kiss, now back from Paris with Etienne and both are attending Berkeley) and life seems to be moving along well. Until, that is, the Boy Next Door, Cricket Bell, returns - he'd hurt her badly a few years before, and if she never sees him again blah blah blah.
The problem with the love triangle here is that it's blatently obvious which one is better for Lola. There's no real suspense here, just a "hurry up and get it over with" sense. Virtually every conflict Lola has is, in some way, resolved by the end of the book, which doesn't feel realistic (although the target audience probably won't feel that way). I'm also not sure that the inclusion of Anna and Etienne makes sense here. They're supposed to symbolize real love, knowing that the other is The One and it's For Life, which is great but again, at 17? not particularly realistic (I say that despite having two marriages in my family where the couples met in middle school, but that's very much not the norm in the real world). It also lead me to wonder if in the next book we'd get Anna, Etienne, Lola and Cricket as role models, and so on. Could make for very crowded books in the future.
ARC provided by publisher.