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lola Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins | Rating: ★★★★★

He couldn't bring the girl with him, so he brought the stars. When he'd look out his window at night, he would start with one. One star. And the boy would make a wish on it, and the wish would be her name.
At the sound of her name, a second star would appear. And then he'd wish her name again, and the stars would double into four. And four became eight, and eight became sixteen, and so on, in the greatest mathematical equation the universe had ever seen. And by the time an hour had passed, the sky would be filled with so many stars that it would wake the neighbors. People wondered who'd turned on the floodlights.
The boy did. By thinking about the girl.

If you're looking for the next sweet, perfect for sunshine, tale of first loves rekindled and something to follow up Anna and the French Kiss with, I have some good news for you! Lola an the Boy Next Door is immensely charming and definitely the perfect followup to the incredibly popular first installment to this series. It has all the wonderful qualities Anna had and we're fortunate enough to have a glimpse or two of Anna and St. Clair; though the sequel doesn't follow them exclusively we get to see the two lovebirds frequently in Lola's story.

Lola's life is interesting and quite fun to read about: her birth mother is a mess, her two fathers are overly strict (sometimes, rightfully so!) and her boyfriend is far too old for her. Seriously girl, he's too old for you right now. Luckily for us readers, she has that something -- that sparkle, that makes you love her instantly. She's very stylish and creative in her own unique way. It's easy to see yourself or someone you know in Lola because she is special and fun and the perfect narrator.

Lola is a complete departure from the voice we had in Anna, but that's a very good thing. It gives us a variety, a different look at a new romance. Their stories, their characteristics, their romances are completely different but still have the same fluffy goodness and angst to them, that it's obvious why this is a series and why both girls get along. Seriously, their friendship is lovely -- Lola is lucky to have Anna and St. Clair at work. They certainly seem to care about the girl and have her best interests at heart and I think it's such a great balance. Lola's lucky to have them, and Lindsey, just as much as they are lucky to have her.

What I liked most about Lola was that she was incredibly flawed and quirky and definitely the sort of girl I'd have hung out with in high school. Although there are times where she frustrated me greatly, I still wanted her to have a happy ending. Especially when it comes to the delightful, kind boy next door Cricket. You can tell right away that Cricket is still crazy about her, even after the sour note the end of their friendship a few years back due to something his twin sister did to emotionally hurt Cricket.

Seriously, they are a great pair.

I liked the stories happening in the background -- Lola's home life, her relationship with Max (who I really, really did not like and am glad they didn't end up together) and her best friends crush on a boy they go to school with. I liked seeing the reasoning for Lola not wanting to see Cricket or his twin sister, Calliope, and the bond the twins have that was very, very real. I do wish we had seen more of Calliope and Cricket as a duo, and that Calliope's scenes with Lola would have been longer.

Overall, it was a sweet and fun installment to this beautiful series. We see the rise and fall of first loves and friendships/relationships rekindled and it's very realistic and very fun. It's easy to see why this series has been popular for so long -- it's such a wonderful experience reading these love stories. Stephanie has a gift in creating interesting characters and realistic romances that touch our hearts.

Her stories are like a dream -- a beautiful, beautiful dream with vivid scenery, unique characters and steamy romance. Honestly, these characters don't even have to touch to make me fan myself -- their connection, their tension, their love can be felt just by reading interactions. They jump right off the page and into your hearts; this story is special and will leave you in a pleasant mood for days to come.

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