Lola and the Boy Next Door

Lola and the Boy Next Door - Stephanie Perkins 4 stars: liked itFull review can be found here!Trust me when I say: you want to read this book. Well, if you love contemporary YA and romantic comedies and oustanding characters: you want to read this book. And if you love Anna and the French Kiss, you need to read this book. Even if you don't want to.I didn't read Anna and the French Kiss (to which Lola is a companion novel) too long ago but I loved it with a passion and quickly named it one of my all-time favorites! I'm 100% certain that I will re-read it over and over again. It had that certain spark, that je-ne-sais-quoi you don't find in just any book. Naturally, I was really excited for Lola and the Boy Next Door, but also a little worried that it wouldn't be as great.Obviously, my worries were misplaced. Stephanie Perkins has a way of creating these amazing and unique characters. They're far from perfect, but they are complete and outstanding in their own way. There's just something about them that makes you fall in love with them instantly. And yes, some are completely swoon-worthy.Main character Lola is fabulous. I mean, she wears wigs and crazy outfits every single day, she has two gay dads, a dog named Heavens to Betsy... but furthermore she has an open mind and doesn't realize how individual or confident she is. It comes natural to her and I couldn't help but love and admire her for that. But she's still having a hard time. She's not just this strong person, but also one who's struggling with who she is and growing up, one who cries. I love how she learns and realizes what right and wrong is, what is hard and what is easy. There's more to this story than Lola and 'the boy next door'. It's about friendship, family, figuring out who you are and growing up. These issues made this story realistic and heartfelt.The secondary characters (Lola's dads, Norah, Lindsay, Calliope) felt complete to me as well. I especially loved reading about Lola's dads, who love her unconditionally, and Lola's connection to and growing understanding of her mother. But the best supporting characters were ANNA and ST. CLAIR. I hadn't read any reviews of this book so I had no idea they were going to be in this novel and I may or may not have screamed when they showed up. So so good! I loved their part in Lola's story and I love that it brings more depth in their relationship. It makes my love for Anna and the French Kiss so much bigger!And okay, let's talk about that boy! Cricket (yes, that's his actual name) was endearing and easily loveable. I adore Lola and Cricket, (dare I say it?) maybe even more than Anna and St. Clair. "Awwww" would probably be the best way to describe them. Mostly because of Cricket, who is quiet and friendly and geeky and who loves unconditionally. He was so real and so good to Lola and everyone around him. I feel like nice guys are always being overlooked in YA fiction, and this was a refreshing change. Seriously, I love St. Clair, but I'd want someone to love me like Cricket does.And yet I have to say that I don't like this book as much as Anna. But Stephanie Perkins' writing is still phenomenal. She has a way of telling a cute story and adding humor and just enough issues to it to make it smart. The pacing, again, is perfect. After reading this book I do consider myself a fan and WILL keep re-reading her books forever. Or until I'm too old to hold them.