Release date: July 11, 2013
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #2
Rating: ALL THE SWOONS EVER. Fabulous characters, funny narration, and... what am I forgetting? OH THAT'S RIGHT. CRICKET FREAKING BELL.
My review of Anna and the French Kiss
The cover: I'm actually really glad they redesigned these covers. The one on the left is the original, and while they did a better job of capturing the protagonists on the Lola cover than they did on the Anna (THE FORGOT THE STRIPE), I still think it's cheesy. Cricket isn't Cricket-y enough, and Lola is kind of... subdued. That wig is a bit halfhearted. But I love the new covers!
The story: I stupid-love Anna and the French Kiss. Like, there are few books out there that make me as happy as that book does. I haven't swooned and giggled over a book like I did with Anna in a long time, and I was exceptionally worried that Lola would always be second best. But to my delight, I found Lola to be an even better book than Anna, even if it didn't have that enchanting, otherworldly quality that Anna had due to the presence of Gay Paree. No, what Lola had going for it was a reality, a sort of grounded eclectic-ness due to the heroine and the setting, the fabulous-as-always San Francisco. It also had Cricket Bell, who is worth all the stars ever.
I kind of felt like this while reading the whole book:
(By the way, you can totally read Lola before Anna, but I have the feeling you'll need to read both before the third, Isla and the Happily Ever After, comes out. Call it a hunch.)
Lola: Lola is a girl who is never afraid to be herself, and I loved that about her. She's raised by two dads, and the story with her birth parents is sort of a mess, but her real parents are loving, supportive, and totally strict. I was pleasantly surprised how much of this book focused on family. Lola's parents are a very real influence in her life, just like in most teenagers'.
But let's get back to Lo. Girlfriend made me laugh, she made me feel, she made me want to be styled by her. Seriously, I WISH I had the confidence to dress like she does. Every day deserves a new costume for Lola, and I imagine her looking all kinds of fabulous. Seriously, if I were a man I'd be a proud drag queen, so Lola's over the top outfits and boundless creativity just really appealed to me. She makes mistakes, most notably in her love life and close friendships, but she's always willing to make up for it. She's a character that really grows. She also has heaps of personality and color, which is always a plus.
The boy next door: Cricket. My god, I could write a full fifteen pages on the glories of Cricket Bell. Or possibly a sonnet or twelve. Maybe a few really crummy-but-heartfelt songs (Never had one lesson!). But back to the most important part: Cricket.
He used to live right next door to Lola, but he moved away when his twin sister, Calliope, an elite figure skater, needed a new coach. He's sheltered and awkward, having spent time with no one but his twin sister through most of high school, but he's brilliant. Just brilliant.Yes, I know that Cricket is a weird name, but Cricket Graham Bell is also a weird guy. And he's all the more lovable for it. He's awkward, earnest, shy, sweet, brilliant, and I am completely, one hundred percent in love with him.
Even when he's making a mess of things, he's such a sincerely sweet but also real guy. He's so completely intimidated by Lola. He has no confidence in himself, but at the same time is totally comfortable with himself. He just seems like a guy. But he's so much more special than that.
I don't want to say I love him more than Etienne, but... it might be possible I love him more than Etienne. I DON'T KNOW. Don't make me choose. I can't resist the awkward, gangly guys with hearts of gold. I really can't. Speaking of Etienne, it was a joy to see him and Anna again in this book. I loved catching up and seeing what they're up to (she says like we're all old pals or something. WHICH WE ARE).
Everybody else: I love that every character had some real layers that came to light over the course of the book. Like, you find out there's more to Cricket's somewhat awful, single-minded figure skater sister, Lola's wreck of a birth mom, and Lola's dedicated rocker boyfriend, Max. I loved how casually and naturally Lola's parents were portrayed, which is exactly how it should be. I loved the colorful and loud backdrop of San Francisco. I wanted slightly more from Lindsey, Lola's best friend, but I get why there really wasn't time. This book is about Lola, and it's about Cricket, and I was honestly so more than fine with that.
Once I started this book, I literally did not stop until I reached the end, until Lola got the moon and stars and I was hugging the book to my chest and flopping around my bed like some kind of spastic sea cucumber going, "Ohmigodohmigod."
|The resemblance, it is uncanny. IT'S LIKE LOOKING IN A MIRROR.|
Cricket Bell, I would like you (or rather a doppelganger version of you who isn't hopelessly in love with Lola Nolan but with ME) to materialize directly in front of me and run away with me into the night. Because I would. In a heartbeat. I'LL BE HERE WAITING, CRICKET, YOU KNOW WHERE TO FIND ME.
Because I LOVED this
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