Lola and the Boy Next Door

Book review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
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Winning romance between quirky neighbors is funny, clever.

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Kids say

age 13+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Kids interested in fashion or costume design will marvel at all the steps it takes for Lola to create her amazing ensembles. Cricket's interest in inventing and building automatons and Rube Goldberg machines will fascinate teens with a thing for engineering, steampunk, and inventors. The very real Alexander Graham Bell is mentioned throughout the story, since he's a character's ancestor.

Positive Messages

The author explores several positive messages -- mostly about identity and relationships. Cricket's interest in Lola's parents reinforces the idea that someone who loves you should do more than "tolerate" your family. Max, the much older boyfriend, isn't dangerous, but he is too old for Lola, and his actions make it clear why dating a 20-something at 16 or 17 isn't a wise idea. Lola and Lindsey's friendship proves that friends don't have to be exactly alike to stay loyal to each other. And Lola's parents -- two dads -- are a wonderful example of why family isn't who you're born to but who raises you and loves you unconditionally.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lola is a good role model of walking to the beat of your own drum. She doesn't care how her classmates dress or that her best friend wears nearly the same thing every day; her passion is clothes, and she uses costumes to express who she is, even if some people think of her as a "freak." Cricket, likewise, is geeky and sweet and doesn't act like most of the macho "jerks with a heart of gold" that are so prevalent in young adult literature. Lola's relationship with her dads is open and loving.


Lola admits she started dating a 22-year-old when she was 16 but is 17 by the start of the book. She talks about losing her virginity and a few other sexual encounters, but there's nothing overly graphic about her descriptions of sex. There are, however, some detailed descriptions of heated gazes, knee-buckling kisses, and making out -- on a bed, in a van, against a wall, etc. A couple sleeps next to each an entire night but doesn't do anything but cuddle. There are a couple of double-meaning jokes and references to Lola's "experience," as well as her feelings of overwhelming physical desire.


A few instances of profanity: "s--t," "bitch," "ass," "douchebag," etc.


Occasional references to songs, bands, and movies.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A 20-something smokes pot and blows it in the direction of his teenage girlfriend; he smokes and drinks. At a nightclub, underage drinking occurs without any fanfare. Lola's birth mother is a recovering substance abuser.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this romantic novel is a companion to author Stephanie Perkins' critically acclaimed first novel, Anna and the French Kiss. There are a few mature themes -- dating an older guy, dealing with a substance-abusing birth mother, handling a new romantic relationship -- and some repeated references to sex, as well. Although a couple of mentioned sexual encounters aren't graphic, the descriptions of desire and a few heated make-out sessions are vividly detailed. There's the odd bit of salty language, but nothing that would make a teenager bat an eye. Overall, this is a love story about two self-aware misfits who love each other exactly as they are -- costumes, quirks, and all.

User Reviews

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Teen, 14 years old Written byridak November 25, 2015


Book was super boring, like the 1st 50 pages, I forced myself to read.
Teen, 13 years old Written byDoctor Who Lover June 9, 2012

Great book, best for pre-teens and teens :D

Great book. Lola is a positive role model. When a relationship needs to be broken, she knows when to break it. She's also really creative and inspirational... Continue reading

What's the story?

Lola Nolan isn't like most other 17-year-old girls. An aspiring costume designer, she wears over-the-top ensembles every day and socializes mostly with her best friend, Lindsey, and her much-older rocker boyfriend, Max -- of whom her two dads don't especially approve. But life gets a lot wackier for Lola when her San Francisco neighbors move back in after a two-year absence, marking the return of Cricket Bell, the boy who broke her heart at age 15. Cricket, a nerdy but adorable inventor, instantly wants back into Lola's life, but she's certain her heart belongs to Max. As she reacquaints herself with the \"boy next door,\" Lola begins to wonder if he's more than her first crush and more like the love of her life.

Is it any good?

After falling in love with Anna and St. Clair's adventures in Paris in Anna and the French Kiss, fans of breakout novelist Perkins will adore Lola and her swoon-worthy neighbor Cricket's love story. Once again Perkins uses the setting -- in this case, San Francisco -- as a central character in the book. And unlike Anna, whose story was set in a boarding school, Lola has a fantastic homelife with two doting dads and a feisty dog cleverly named "Heavens to Betsy." Lola is self-possessed and quirky -- a Lady Gaga-lite who creates fabulous costumes as an extension of her personality. She's beautiful, funny, and comfortable in her skin, so it's hard to resist Lola's charms as a protagonist.

But despite Lola's love of presentation, she's nakedly vulnerable when it comes to Cricket. His re-emergence in her life makes her rethink whether her relationship with Max, the 22-year-old punk star, is the Real Thing or a first love that can't go the distance. As Cricket and Lola reconnect -- adorably via their facing second-story windows -- readers will undeniably root for the impossibly tall inventor to win Lola's heart. As an added bonus, Lola works at a movie theater with Anna and the ever-present St. Clair, making it clear that their intercontinental love story is of the forever variety. With its vivid descriptions of how friendship blooms into love, this is a winning romance with sparkly language and a lot of heart.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the book's depiction of teenage relationships. Which relationship seems healthier  -- Lola and Max's or Lola and Cricket's? How do they compare? Is it odd in a romance for the girl to be more experienced than the guy?

  • How is Lola's circle of family and friends a good role model for diversity? Does Lola's penchant for dressing in costumes and wigs make her relatable? What are some other books featuring quirky, unique protagonists?

  • For those who read Anna and the French Kiss, did you like the crossover appearances by Anna and St. Clair? Which story do you prefer? How does the author use a city as another character in each of her books?

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