All month long, Ashley from Books From Bleh to Basically Amazing and Shanyn from Chicks Love Lit are hosting an epic event entitled Just Contemporary.
There are all kinds of goodies, from giveaways to reviews to guest posts and author interviews. Ashley is also doing a round-up of Contemporary reviews and features on other blogs each week, so get in touch with her if you post anything!
Let me get this out of the way right now: My review is probably going to be in the minority. Everyone else seems to think that LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR is the second coming, the best thing since sliced bread, better than its predecessor, ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS (my review). While I found LOLA to be enjoyable, to me, it was in no way, shape, or form better than ANNA. I thought it would be. I wanted it to be. I've been hearing that this book is more amazing since BEA. And maybe that was the problem. This book was so hyped up that I didn't love it as much as I thought I would. (It could also be that this was one of the first books I read after finishing Erin Morgenstern's mind-blowingly amazing THE NIGHT CIRCUS, easily one of the best books I've ever read...no book should be read after that.) To make sure this wasn't just in my head, I grabbed ANNA off my shelf and went back to re-read certain parts...and wound up re-reading the whole book. I was enamored and it wasn't put down as easily as LOLA was. So to me, ANNA won. But LOLA does have a charm of its own.
The book centers around Lola, a girl into designing crazy costumes/ensembles for herself. Some of her fellow classmates think she's weird, while others call her original. Lola doesn't care what anyone thinks. She used to such appraisal, having grown up in a household with two loving fathers, and knows her own mind. She even ignores the fact that her dads would prefer that she stopped dating her 22-year-old boyfriend, Max, because she's only 17. She sees all kinds of awesome traits in him that her overprotective parents can't. Her life is going the way she wants until twins Calliope and Cricket move back next door. She's always had a less-than-amicable relationship with Calliope, and Cricket has always been the one person able to break her heart. With their return, life as Lola knows it begins to turn upside down.
I think what I loved best about Stephanie Perkins' first book is the ambiance of Paris, the tight bond between friends, and the relationship that slowly blooms between Anna and Étienne. It was weird seeing them return in LOLA in secondary roles and at times, giving readers more scenes with their beloved couple seemed to take away from the relationships forming for Lola. I think that in the end, this is what made me love this book less. I wasn't as invested in Lola's plight. Cricket got less page time than most male leads tend to. In a way, former boyfriend Max got more time, and not always in a good way. There were multiple topics at play in this book, and while normally I like having a relationship on the back burner because it's not the only topic, this time around, I thought there was too little. At the same time, I really enjoyed Perkins' signature style in developing characters. Lola is quirky and fun and I enjoyed seeing a strong parental unit since so many YA novels are lacking in this regard. I would have liked to see more of Cricket. The name alone has me wanting more! Seriously, how awesome is the name Cricket? I still enjoy Perkins as a writer and am already looking forward to next year's concluding companion novel ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER, which will return readers to the Paris we all fell in love with.