Dear Stephanie Perkins,
“Just because something isn't practical doesn't mean it's not worth creating. Sometimes beauty and real-life magic are enough.” ― Lola Nolan
I was so bummed when you published this while I was prepping for NaNoWriMo. I knew I wouldn't be able to read until December, but having it sitting there, staring at me, it was a good impetus to keep going. Now that I've won, I can read. And I am so glad I picked this as my first post-NaNo book.
I went to bed last night with a huge grin on my face but I was sad that I didn't have anymore Lola and Cricket to enjoy. I actually woke my husband up from a sound sleep to tell him how happy the book made me and how you were in my head.It was as if you were in my head while I read. I guess you were if you were a teenage girl once upon a time, a girl who had her heart broken and a girl who tried to fall in love with an idea rather than following her heart. It would make sense if you were a girl who looked for what everyone else kept talking about, you were not sure of it at all yourself.
I remember trying to make something work that I knew deep down wasn't going to work. I remember seeing the boy and knowing I could never have him. I can picture in my head even now, the different things I did and said to find away along it all, but it just didn't work.
Lola is a girl that make sense to many a woman who can look back and think "Huh... wish I knew that now!" Lola is imperfect and makes mistakes, but deep down she's a good girl. I was that kid. I wanted to do everything right, but was constantly making mistakes. Lola is kind and smart and creative. She reminded me so much of me and so many other of the girls I knew. We tried so hard to do what we thought we were supposed to do, we tried to be ourselves by trying on different personas and personalities. And watching Lola traverse love was beautiful and poignant.
And then there's Cricket Bell. He's precious and coy, he's smart and unsure, he's pretty and goofy and sensitive. Oy.
And Etienne is there, too! What a phenomenal plot device, Stephanie! You gave us Max who was interesting, then Cricket who was titillating, and then you brought us Etienne for a second helping of Unf! .
A magician! You worked a story about an awkward, evolving, kind teenager who can be identified with in with relevant plots and real characters! Lola's parents you can believe rather than some stories out there. Her parents are honest to goodness parents. Even her birth mother, that storyline touched me deeply. When Norah says, “Do you know my biggest regret?" She asks. "That you turned into this bright, beautiful, fascinating person... and I can't take credit for any of it.” I felt my heart break for my own mother. It was tough to read, but I was so happy to see it. There was a lot going on within the book. We have lots of characters and plots and background information and repeated costume changes and you mixed it all together with pretty, swoony boys!
It's so good! It was such a thrilling story that had my stomach clenching and my mind working it all out, all the while I was smiling and pursing my lips and ignoring the dog and the husband. It took one day and I'm sold.
Anna was lovely. Truly lovely. Lola spoke to me. Something about Lola's journey resonated within me. I didn't just enjoy her tale and love the boy like I did with Anna. With Lola I could really, honestly, connect with this character.
I think a great deal of why I loved this is that Lola is strong. Yes she makes mistakes, cries, makes more mistakes, gets angry, throws things, loves her dog, and laughs at stupid jokes... she's real. Or as real as the pages of your book will let her be. But she's also struggling to be whole. I think a lot of us, me in particular, can appreciate that struggle. Even into my adulthood, I find we are all in this struggle. I loved that even though Lola was given the opportunity to rid herself of a mistake and what she wanted was served to her on a platter of skinny jeans and blue rubberbands, she said she had to wait. She waited until she was whole again. Any time your heart is broken or you make a huge, life altering decision, you lose a bit of yourself and you need to recover. I love that she recovered. She didn't need Cricket to heal her. She didn't need Max to make her real. She didn't. She needed Lola. She had lots of support, lots of love, lots of time. And in the end... Lola is Lola for Lola and gets her happy in the end on her terms.
I absolutely respect you for that, Stephanie. Completely.
So again, thank you, Stephanie Perkins, for giving us Lola. I can't wait for Isla.
If you're looking for a great YA read that will make you laugh and swoon and feel good when you finish, pick up Lola and the Boy Next Door. :)