If these characters were toddlers and I was an old lady, I would pinch their cheeks. They’re that adorable.
Lola especially. The MC’s got style and knows how to rock it. It was marvelous to have a female who has a substantial amount of self confidence, most of the time.
The focus of the novel is on her point of major vulnerability. A boy named Cricket.
You guys, these two could have had the perfect story. They grew up as next door neighbors in a picturesque section of San Fransisco. They could have had an idealistic high school sweetheart romance!
But shit happened.
Cricket and his family end up moving away after the event-that-is-not-to-be-thought-of. Suffice to say, Lola was majorly hurt.
Life went on, and Cricket was pretty much going to be that boy in Lola’s past. But then the Bells came back to town.
Oh, the irony.
If Lola walked into a room, I’m pretty sure I’d be impressed by her. And Cricket? Well, I’d never be able to look him in the eye, but I’d definitely be sporting a crush.
Once again, Perkin’s world is incredibly fleshed out. The setting and the characters, they all have quirks that make them unique. Lola’s an aspiring fashion designer and Cricket Bell (Bell, as in Alexander Graham) has rather impressive inventing skills. Even the minor characters are not to be outdone. Cricket’s sister is aiming to be an Olympic ice skater and one of Lola’s dads runs his own catering business.
Like its predecessor, Lola and the Boy Next Door has a character that’s already in a relationship when the romantic interest appears. It’s a little awkward to read, which I guess is the point. Life’s messy and all that. I do wonder if Isla and the Happily Ever After (2014) will have that in the plot line. Personally, I hope not.
The story of Lola and Cricket is a complex one and it takes quite awhile to get it all out in the open. It was deliciously frustrating knowing that these two had a story but not getting specifics. It’s like having a friend who has a major secret but won’t give, leaving me to jump around and squeal, “Tell me. Tell me!”
Trust me, me squealing isn’t pretty.
In the end, though, everything’s fleshed out in a way that leaves this reader very, very satisfied. Stephanie Perkins’ Lola and the Boy Next Door is a definite win.
Interested in more? Read my review of Anna and the French Kiss.
When I read books like Fire, I wonder why I don’t read more fantasy. As it is, Graceling and Bitterblue have leapt onto my wishlist.
Yup, that’s right. I read Fire before Graceling. A long time ago, Yan from Books by Their Cover told me it would be okay. I don’t think it harmed me in any way, other than making the chapters about the graceling seem a bit curious; needless to say, I’m eager to find out more about the lore surrounding them.
From Kristin Cashore’s website: Beautiful creatures called monsters live in the Dells. Monsters have the shape of normal animals: mountain lions, dragonflies, horses, fish. But the hair or scales or feathers of monsters are gorgeously colored– fuchsia, turquoise, sparkly bronze, iridescent green– and their minds have the power to control the minds of humans.
Seventeen-year-old Fire is the last remaining human-shaped monster in the Dells. Gorgeously monstrous in body and mind but with a human appreciation of right and wrong, she is hated and mistrusted by just about everyone, and this book is her story.
I have to admit, I get tired of novels where the main character is beautiful. Or worse yet, she’s beautiful but she just doesn’t know it. The cliche gets to me. Thankfully, Fire’s physical attraction didn’t irk me. While she is stunning, it causes her more problems than gives her benefits and her ability to control minds is far more fascinating.
As we’ve all heard, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Fire is aware of that much more so than her deceased monster father. She’s sensitive, almost shy at times. A lifetime of people wanting her for all the wrong reasons has made her wary.
To add to her appeal (for me, anyway), she has a horse. His name is Small, and I want him. He reminds me more of a dog than any horse I’ve ever met. He’s adorable. I’m always fascinated with the bond between humans and animals, or monster and animal, in this case.
What I love most about Fire is its pacing. There is no instant gratification. From its romance to the the fate of the land, Fire takes its sweet time in bringing the climactic resolutions about. When they do finally come, they blow you away.
Pearl in the Sand is a gem of a novel.
I picked it up because of its cover then decided the premise sounded pretty interesting. I brought it home then let it languish on my shelf for awhile. But then I read Sandy’s review of it which led me to Juju’s review and I knew I had to start it.
I’m so glad I did; it’s really lovely.
Pearl in the Sand is a fictional take on the story of Rahab. At the beginning of the book, she’s a prostitute. By the end, her faith has changed and she’s… well, I don’t want to spoil it for you.
When Rahab decides to join the Hebrews, she ardently takes on their customs and their God. Since Pearl in the Sand is written in first person, Rahab’s introspection is on herself and it doesn’t feel as if the author is using Rahab’s change of heart to blatantly preach at the reader, something I’ve found often in Christian fiction books written in third person.
As for Rahab, she’s a lovely person from the beginning of the novel. She’s very intelligent and has done well with the circumstances she was thrust into.
The love interest, Salmone, on the other hand, is a complete idiot. At first. He judges Rahab unjustly, not caring of what she is now, only of what she has been. Yet it’s carefully shown that he is a fair leader and a kind man to his family and friends. He eventually warms up to her. (Boy, does he ever.)
One issue I was surprised didn’t come up was Salmone’s previous marriage. It seemed to me that, with all the insecurities Rahab had, thinking of his previous wife would have drawn up comparison’s in Rahab’s mind but nothing of the sort was mentioned. Perhaps that was best, as she already had enough insecurities to sink a ship.
For those familiar with the Bible, while reading, I wondered if the reason Boaz, Rahab’s son, was able to accept Ruth was because his mother was an outsider herself.
I found Pearl in the Sand to be a beautiful story of faith and love, starring a woman who initially loses the first and doesn’t believe she’s worthy of the latter.
Tessa Afshar’s second book, Harvest of Rubies, was just released earlier this year and I won’t be taking nearly as long to read it as I did her first.