You guys, this article marks the first birthday of Young Adult Education! That’s right, I’ve been writing about young adult literature, spazzing out over romances and getting far too invested in the lives of fictional characters for a year now. Time flies when you’re writing for a great website, apparently.
When I was thinking about how to celebrate this monumental occasion (besides wearing a party hat while writing this. Just kidding, I’m not doing that…or am I?), I decided I should just take this opportunity to write about one of my favorite YA books ever, Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins.
By now, we’re all familiar with the concept of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (and if you aren’t, then clearly you don’t spend much time on the internet). But what if that wacky MPDG was a fully-realized character who told the story from her point of view? That’s how I see Lola. Instead of being a funky-haired, flashy-dressed girl who only serves to brighten up some boring dude’s life, Lola has her own life, and it’s kind of awesome. Lola, in all of her wigged, costumed glory, wants to be a designer. Her biggest goal for the next year is to make a Marie Antoinette dress to wear to the school dance. She’s dating an older musician, she has an awesome best friend, two great dads, and things are going great…until the Bell twins move in next door.
Cricket and Calliope Bell used to live next to Lola when they were younger. But then Cricket bluntly shut her out of his life, Calliope’s figure-skating career took off, and they moved away. Now that they’re back, so are Lola’s confusing feelings for Cricket. Needless to say, romance ensues.
There’s so much to love about this book, so let’s just get right to the highlights, okay?
–Gay dads. I have a real soft spot for any YA book that features realistic gay characters. I just adore that Lola has gay parents and that this isn’t a book about her gay parents. They’re just normal dads who don’t trust her weird older boyfriend and make him eat breakfast with them.
–Cricket Bell. I’ve written before about how much I love Cricket Bell, but it can’t hurt to talk about him a little more. He’s a genius inventor who dresses nicely and is pretty strange. I love seeing a male YA protagonist who is different from the Jess-Mariano-bad-boy-with-a-heart-of-gold or sensitive-best-friend-who-was-there-all-along clichés. Not that I don’t love those clichés. I do. But I appreciate Stephanie’s willingness to get a little out there and create a YA love interest who’s actually unique.
–San Francisco. Just like Paris in Anna and the French Kiss, San Francisco is basically a character in this book. Even though all I know about San Francisco is based on Mrs. Doubtfire (a.k.a. The Best Film Ever Made) and Full House (hold on, let me space out for a second as I imagine Uncle Jesse’s hair whipping in the wind as he cruises down a highway while the sweet, sweet strains of that theme song play. Okay, I’m back!), now I kind of want to go there.
-This is a little embarrassing, but I feel like we’re all friends here and you won’t judge me, and I did already tell you all about how I secretly read a book by Tim Allen as a kid, so here goes: when I read Lola and the Boy Next Door, I may have checked it out from the library in paper, Kindle, and audiobook formats so I could read it at home, keep it in my purse, and listen to it in my car. And by “may have” I mean “definitely.” This book is that good! You’ll want to always be reading it! “Always Be Reading Lola and the Boy Next Door” is a quote from Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross. I’m pretty sure. I mean, I’ve never seen that movie so I can only guess.
-I can barely contain my excitement about this, but according to Amazon, Stephanie’s next book, Isla and the Happily Ever After, is due out this year. You cannot possibly understand how excited I am. Unless you’re just as excited, in which case, please, let’s chat.
What about you guys? Have you read Lola and the Boy Next Door? How excited are you for Isla and the Happily Ever After? What other YA romances should I check out? Let me know in the comments! And, as always, I love to hear your suggestions for books to feature in Young Adult Education. Leave a comment, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Twitter @KerryAnn.