Is it Wise to Choose the Good Guy?
Lola Nolan has been through a lot in her seventeen years. Her drug addict mother was incapable of caring for her so Lola had to be raised by her uncle and his gay partner. She doesn't know her father. But does she let that heartbreaking history derail her? Heck, no! Lola turns her family pain into a creative flair and a bright future. Her quirky fashion sense has her wearing all kinds of outrageous costumes, like a pink wig, sequined prom dress turned minidress, David Bowie pin covered jean jacket, and glittery false eyelashes.Today I'm wearing cat-eye glasses and a cheetah-print dress I made last spring. I've pinned oversize red brooches like bullet wounds to the front of the dress, and I have bloodred ribbons tied up and down my arms and throughout my hair. I'm protesting big-game hunting in Africa.
Lola performs well in school and at her job at a movie theater (with a familiar coworker...Anna!) But her dads are disgruntled by her 22 year-old rocker boyfriend Max, with his tattoos and piercings. Lola thinks she'll be with Max forever until her old neighbors--the Bell twins--move back to town. Calliope Bell is an Olympic figure skater and Cricket is her loyal brother, who had a connection with Lola but abruptly moved away after dissing her.
I love the character of Cricket. He's tall and gangly, sweet and smart. He's devastated when he meets Lola's boyfriend Max for the first time:My boyfriend squints, almost imperceptibly, as his mind sorts this information. It's the exact opposite of Cricket, who is at a complete loss to hide his emotions. His face is stricken, and he's backing up.
Aww, poor Cricket!
Stephanie Perkins makes San Francisco come alive in this story. I love the fact that Lola has two dads and lives in a mint-green Victorian house. Even the San Francisco homeless feel true to life. I worked as a counselor in a homeless shelter in Indiana and learned to look the homeless in the eye as a sign of respect. However, when I met the eyes of homeless people in San Francisco, I felt accosted. One guy got in my face and as I tried to hurry by he hollered, "Oh, are you scared?" I was indeed freaked. Therefore, this part felt very real:We break apart to find a guy in head-to-toe dirty patchwork corduroy glaring at us.
"No need to be sorry." He glowers at me underneath his white-boy dreadlocks. "I'm only f-ing starving."
It's also great how Lola speaks to the moon. The moon and her cycles are tied to feminine wisdom, so this was a nice touch.
I was cheering for Lola to be with good boy Cricket, but there are obstacles in the way (like her current bad boy boyfriend Max and Cricket's jealous twin sister). I liked the realism of Calliope's figure skating career creating many sacrifices for her family. Cricket's explanation even matched research on Olympians, finding that bronze medal winners feel more satisfied than silver medal winners:"Cal's been the most talented ladies' figure skater for years, but she's never skated two clean programs in a row in a major competition...it's why she'd rather get third than second. When she gets third, at least she's happy to have placed. But second. That's too close to first."
I've heard other reviewers comment that they liked Anna and the French Kiss better than Lola, but I enjoyed them both for their unique quirks. Stephanie Perkins really knows how to write realistic, feel-good YA romances, and I look forward to her third book featuring Isla.