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.
OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES: Anna and the French Kiss
Lola lives in San Francisco with her fathers and she is having a great summer. She just turned seventeen and is dating a hot rocker five years older than her. Sure, school is about to start and, because of her outlandish fashion sense, she isn’t the most popular girl, but she has her friends and co-workers, and she’s happy with herself and her world. The house next door is getting new occupants, but that’s okay, as long as it’s not THEM. But she doesn’t want to think about what happened two years before that caused a huge rift in her friendship with the Boy Next Door, Cricket, because he and his twin sister and the rest of their family are gone and she’s obviously moved on.
But, guess what…it is them. Lola’s mind skitters with embarrassment, hurt, and a certain longing that she is unaware of really feeling. She dresses it up as something else. She becomes more enmeshed with her boyfriend, who is having trouble with her family and their dislike of him and Lola’s age and all that their age difference entails.
Cricket was once her best friend, who she was secretly in love with, and she thought maybe he felt the same way. Now that he’s back, going to college, but trying to be friends with Lola again, but she’s not having it. Lola is still upset about how their friendship was torn asunder (sounds dramatic, I know). But she doesn’t take the time to examine why that might be.
Lola is a companion to the book Anna and the French Kiss, in which we meet Anna and Etienne St. Clair. Anna was one of my favorite books that I read this year. It was full of heart, angst (because Anna was in love with a boy who had a girlfriend!) and those little moments that you get when you’re reading a love story; your heart dropping to your feet when they touch, the deep breath you take when something, however small (but significant) happens…It was really the perfect YA love story. So I was understandably excited about reading Lola, and anticipating another great book. Another reviewer I know read the book months back and I asked her if it was as good as Anna and she told me she thought it was better and I have to say, I think I agree with her. It’s almost like comparing chocolate cake with pink icing to chocolate cake with purple icing, because they were both unbelievably awesome, but I think I liked Lola just a little bit more.
You want to know why?! Let me answer that in one word: Cricket. Such an unusual name for such a lovely, lovely boy. It is obvious to the reader that his feelings for Lola are deep and he’s sensitive and adorable and shy…but Lola doesn’t recognize his feelings for her as anything other than tolerance of her (at least at first). And it’s hard to understand why she doesn’t see it, but then I started thinking about what it was like when I was that age (…long, long ago) and realize that Lola’s perceptions are pretty accurate from her point of view. Also, when we find out what happened two years ago, it seems so small and insignificant, like, “really, that’s why you were heartbroken?!”, but again, given her age and her feelings for Cricket, it makes sense.
I liked Lola, too. She is, in so many ways, a typical teenager. She pushes her parents to accept her much older boyfriend, who I didn’t so much have a problem with (it’s not his fault Lola doesn’t tell him her real age until he is already infatuated with her), except that he wasn’t Cricket and, now that I think about it, he was a little impatient with her. She’s moody at times. But she had all the secret yearnings of teenagers, wanting something, she wasn’t sure what, but something different.
And then there are the other characters, Calliope (Cricket’s sister, ugh), Lola’s dads (Nathan & Andy 🙂 ), her birth mother, her boyfriend Max, her friends, Anna and St. Clair…the story was just about as perfect as you can get. I like how it kind of mirrored Anna and the French Kiss in that both Anna and Cricket are in love with people who are technically unavailable. My only (small, tiny) complaint was that there was that the end was too abrupt…I would have wanted to enjoy Lola and Cricket together for a little while. In Anna, when Anna and St. Clair finally kissed, the moment was just about perfect and will forever be one of my favorite scenes from a book, and Lola is comparable in that respect. Maybe we will see more interaction between the two of them in the next book, like Anna & St. Clair (fingers crossed!).