Today I’m doing a double feature recommendation because they were such fun, sweet reads. Now that I’m in the thick of graduate school, thinking about these books reminds me of good old times I had in high school and the sweet memories that I’ll always treasure! This is also a chance to do an author recommendation for Stephanie Perkins, who wrote these two lovely novels.
Doesn’t she look like so much fun! I mean come on, she has blue dye in her hair! I love it! I also love her quirky personality. You can practically feel it jump out at you when you visit her website.
“Thanks for visiting my website! I like your smile. You look really nice today.
I’m Stephanie Perkins, and I wrote a novel called Anna and the French Kiss. A lot of people liked it! And then I wrote a companion novel, Lola and the Boy Next Door. I hope people will like it, too.
Did I mention how nice you look today? Please buy my new book. The boy has tight pants and tall hair and everything. And it takes place in San Francisco!
Pretty please buy it?”
I’m not sure how I picked up Anna and the French Kiss but after I read it, I counted down the days until Lola and the Boy Next Door came out! I’m still counting the days until Isla and the Happily Ever After comes out but I just feel hesitant to keep my hopes up. I mean, I liked Anna, and then, I loved Lola! Who is Isla and how is she going to top Lola? I don’t know, I can’t even imagine!
Okay, enough of my crazy rambling, I’m sure you have better things to do (like read the rest of our blog posts)! I wholeheartedly recommend Both Anna and Lola and you can judge for yourself which character you identify more with!
Anna, an aspiring film critic, is a high school senior who is being sent abroad to boarding school in France against her will by her father. She hates the idea of leaving her hometown, her family and her friends for a foreign land where she doesn’t speak the language and doesn’t have any friends. While in France, she is befriended by her next door neighbor in the dorm, Meredith, who introduces her to Rashmi, Josh and the charming American-born, English-accented, French-named, Etienne St. Clair. In this coming of age novel, Anna learns the meaning of friendships, relationships and the comforts of home.
I absolutely adored this book. I think this is one of those books that just will put a smile on your face in the end even though there is drama throughout the book. Anna is such a wonderful character that is true to herself. She is somewhat quiet but extremely funny and charming (not the forced kind of wit but sincere and genuinely clever wit) and someone I think I would get along with if she weren’t a fictional character! What I love most about the book is that her friends actually have tons of personality as well! I know sometimes I’ll read books that have underdeveloped secondary characters and question why they were even in the book. This book excels in doing everyone justice with unique personalities and traits and really brings the characters to life. I’ve read some reviews for this book stating that the plot was too predictable. On the contrary, I would like to argue that the plot is realistic. This isn’t one of those fantasy driven novels that can have crazy plot twists but a simple story about a teenage girl finding her way in life.
Lola is not asking for much, really, she only has 3 simple wishes. First, she would like to attend the winter formal dressed like Marie Antoinette. A dress she designs and makes herself with a HUGE wig and a dress so wide it would be almost impossible to fit through the doors. The second wish is to be with her boyfriend Max, who her parents disapprove of. He works on the side as a meter maid when he’s not trying to “make it” as part of a band in the music industry. She knows they’re meant to be together but she doesn’t understand why her parents can’t see the inevitable future of their unity. Lola’s third wish is to never, EVER, see the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, ever again. But when the Bell twins move back into the house across the street from Lola, her world is thrown upside down by unpleasant memories of the past and difficult situations in her present. Will any of Lola’s dreams come true? Or is she doomed to a life of disappointment?
Lola is an in your face, extremely boisterous, exceedingly outrageous and absolutely lovable main character! She thinks life is too short for outfits so she wears costumes instead! She reminds me of one of those artists that you see on the street and just don’t get, but can’t help make you smile. Except that I understand Lola. Her frustrations and confusion in life are really transparent and easy to understand. When I thought Anna and the French Kiss had great secondary characters, I was COMPLETELY blown away by the secondary characters in this novel. From Lola’s gay parents, her best friend Lindsey, her drug addict mom, Cricket’s twin sister, Calliope, all the way to…wait for it…YES, Anna and St. Clair! They make an appearance in this book and that’s always nice to see characters you’ve adored come up again. This way I get to see a glimpse of Anna’s future together with St. Clair.
Lola is another coming of age story. But don’t worry, I promise you won’t think it’s just Anna and St. Clair all over again. Lola is so different and so vibrantly bright that her life can only be different from Anna’s. The only similarity between these two books is that they both passionate. Anna’s passion was for film, and Lola’s passion is for her sewing. Lola is determined and not bashful, but, like most of us she runs into an occasional rainy day. It’s the choices that she makes, and the people that she turns to for help that really makes this book a beautiful, fun and engaging read!