I knew about Stephanie Perkins before I read this. I knew about this book. I knew it was a supposed masterpiece. But it took the kick of meeting Perkins at the Decatur Book Festival to actually buckle down and read it, so when I said I was a fan, I could mean it instead of assuming I’d like it. Well, when I began reading the first chapter of Lola and the Boy Next Door and got upset when my teaser was over, I knew I no longer had to assume I’d fangirl.
Anna’s dad, famous novelist catering to middle-aged women, decided to move her to an American boarding school in Paris her senior year. As Anna closes the door her first night after her parents leave, her thoughts go straight to her home in Atlanta and not even the City of Love can console her. Fortunately, the girl across the hall knows that hot chocolate cures everything. After being inducted into their friend group, Anna predictably falls for St. Clair, the “it” boy– gorgeous, easy-going, kind. She tries to hold back knowing he has a girlfriend and her crush back home is still available. This gets harder and harder as their friendship grows, and she’s torn between guys, friendships, and countries as her senior year progresses with all the high school drama of public school.
This is the kind of book that you find yourself talking about to people who haven’t picked up a book since the last English assignment.
Me: Oh my gosh, Anna is, like, completely oblivious. St. Clair obvi loves her! Come on! They’re being soo annoying, like, just kiss her already.”
People: …what? Anna who?
Me: Uh. Oliphant? They’re, ehm, from my book.
As you can see, I need some real-life drama to feed on so my friends don’t get completely fed up with hearing about fictional characters they’ve never even met– err, read about.
It’s obviously not a deep book creating philosophical ponderings or anything of that nature. You’ll find yourself pondering about St. Clair’s next move or Anna’s decisions, but nothing major. That being said, I don’t understand the people who find this book “life-changing.” And trust me, when I volunteered in Stephanie Perkin’s signing line, I heard a ton of people call her work mind-blowing, life-changing, favorite-of-all-time stuff.
It’s a fluff book. It’s a book that you can read cover to cover and completely obsess over the characters and the plot, but not the message or the writing style. It’s fun and summery and smiley. Some of the love scenes will cause outward displays of emotion such as gasping, audible awwh-ing, or incessant grinning. The fight scenes will cause furrowed brows, exasperated sighs, and eye-rolling. And the whole book will tug on the feels, but not in a Fault-in-Our-Stars way, more of a this-is-adorable way.
The writing is easy to follow and understand without symbols and metaphors. It focuses on dialogue and character relations along with the setting to entice the readers with images of ancient architecture and beautiful Paris streets.
I recommend reading the book, and I love Stephanie Perkins, so I’ll recommend meeting her as well. It’s light and airy and if your clique has a gossip drought, this book is perfect for you.