Lola And The Boy Next Door

Lola And The Boy Next Door

Paperback | July 9, 2013

byStephanie Perkins

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Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the negihborhood. When Cricket, a gifted inventor, steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

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Lola And The Boy Next Door

Paperback | July 9, 2013
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From the Publisher

Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the negihborhood. When Cricket, a gifted inventor, steps out from his twin siste...

Stephanie Perkins (www.stephanieperkins.com) lives in the mountains of North Carolina with her husband.

other books by Stephanie Perkins

Anna And The French Kiss
Anna And The French Kiss

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see all books by Stephanie Perkins
Format:PaperbackDimensions:368 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.94 inPublished:July 9, 2013Publisher:Penguin Young Readers GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0142422010

ISBN - 13:9780142422014

Customer Reviews of Lola And The Boy Next Door

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Swooon~ Cricket is so precious (and incredibly tall). He makes the story so worth-reading and he's just the guy that every other guy is not. He expresses himself in a way that teenage boys don't usually do (which I liked) and he is truly sincere towards his feelings for Lola. I wish Cricket was real and the boy next door to mine but unfortunately he's fictional :( Stephanie Perkins doesn't disappoint and this sequel proves it. We have another set of unique characters from Perkins and yes, I do love this book as much as the first one. #plumreview
Date published: 2016-12-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Second favourite of the series I love Stephanie Perkins and all of her books, but this isn't the best one in the series. That being said, I did read it in about 2-3 days so... still a really great book!
Date published: 2016-12-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The best one in the series. This is my favourite book from the series. I love both protagonists and really love their love story.
Date published: 2016-11-27
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Lola and the Boy Next Door Fairly predictable, not very memorable and quite cliche. It felt like Lola was trying too hard and like Calliope and Cricket hadn't changed at all in the years they'd been living away (still hating/loving Lola as they had before). I wouldn't recommend this book.
Date published: 2016-11-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Love it This book was wonderful and the story/characters/setting were all so magical.
Date published: 2016-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love Such a good book, plot is good, characters are good, overall goodness
Date published: 2016-11-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing !!!!! I absolutely loved this book.
Date published: 2016-04-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Freaking fantastic I enjoyed the lightness of this book and how I couldn't put it down. The one thing I didn't particularly enjoy was how Lola was with cricket during her relationship with max
Date published: 2015-10-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Adored Lola! After reading Anna and the French Kiss, I was excited to read the next continuation of the series. A few chapters in, I became a little skeptical, as it did not really have the same feel as I had gotten from Anna due to a completely different set of characters and setting. Although as the story progressed and characters developed, I began to feel a connection to Lola. I really liked how you can sense what she feels from the small things she does, even when she continually denies her feelings for Cricket over Max. I loved how real Lola's emotions were throughout the story, and I loved seeing her confidence in herself and others grow. I also really liked how Lola worked with Anna (and technically Etienne!) at the movie theatre; it created a nice bridge between the novels. I would give this book 4 1/2 stars, but I'll round it up to 5 for the sake of the review! Make sure not to forget to read this after reading Anna!!
Date published: 2015-09-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved! I don't usually go the obvious title for a book review but I really do, not did, do love this book! When I read the back I put it down because I didn't not think I would like it but I had to get it to continue the series. Surprisingly, it is the fastest I have ever read a book because I could not put it down, I could not stop thinking about it! I can relate so much to the book about first love, a love from a young child to now. I love the characters, I love the setting, I love obstacle the that characters have to go through It's a book that did not seem like a fairy tale in a sense that it doesn't seem possible or that things that happened in the book can't happen in real life. The book is real. I am now even more excited to read the last and final book Isla and the Happily Ever After but I'm sure this one will always be my favourite. Highly recommend it! Don't skip past this one, read it!
Date published: 2015-05-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from BEAUTIFUL :§ She is beauty, she is grace, she will punch you in the face. That was Lola in one sentence. I think lola showed great character development and I loved the fact that you put St Clair af Anna in the book. That book was #relationshipgoals in 258 pages! Loved it Stephanie! :3
Date published: 2015-02-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This as good I liked this book and i think anyone who likes cute love storys would like it. If you lie alot of romance this isnt the book for you
Date published: 2014-12-22
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Don't look for another "Anna" I loved "Anna and the French Kiss" and "Isla and the Happily Ever After" because the characters were really relatable and likeable. The characters in this book - Lola in particular - deviated so far from relatable in an attempt to be "unique" that they were intensely unlikeable and frustrating. The names were frustrating to read, the constant tantrums about her wardrobe were irritating, and it was completely unrecognizable as the writing from "Anna and the French Kiss". The love story was well written and the supporting characters were mostly great, but the unnecessary "quirks" of Lola were exhausting. Read "Anna" and "Isla" but this one isn't necesssary
Date published: 2014-09-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So cute and great Just like Anna and the French Kiss, I loved this book. It was such a cute contemporary that I just wanted them to finally admit to each other that they still love each other. But this book was more than the love between Lola Nolan and Cricket Bell, it was about family and friendship. Another thing I really enjoyed was that Anna from Anna and the French Kiss was involved in Lola's life quite a bit. She was involved in the story and I can't wait to see how Anna and Lola will be involved in Isla's story! The pacing of this book was good, it was always interesting with Lola's crazy outfits and how see goes about life and suspenseful to see where Lola and Crickets friendship was heading. I would have like to now more about what happens with Lola and Cricket but I know I'll be told in Isla's story. Stephanie Perkins' book are adorable. Definitely will be picking up her next companion book.
Date published: 2014-04-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from <3 Such a cute novel! Love it
Date published: 2013-02-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love, Love, Love Stephanie Perkins has changed my thoughts on contemporary novels. I normally stick to paranormal over real life BUT everyone loves Anna and the French Kiss. I decided to take a chance and I loved it. I couldn’t wait for Lola and it wasn’t a disappointment. Lola reminds me of my sister who also loves fashion she’s not as extreme as Lola but I saw similarities. I love love love Cricket and I freaking despise Max. I loves how Anna and St. Clair were added to the story I wasn’t expecting to see the,. I laugh, I cried and I felt like I was the one on a rollercoaster ride of emotions over Lolas. Besides Max I liked all the characters. They had the perfect impact on Lola even if it was for a page or just a sentence.
Date published: 2012-07-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Glittery, Quirky Fun! Originally posted at http://www.lostatmidnightreviews.blogspot.ca/ I was really excited when I won a copy of Lola and the Boy Next Door a few months ago. I absolutely loved Anna and the French Kiss (although, the title is still not my favourite) and I knew that Stephanie Perkins would blow me away with this companion! And, I can safely say, I was swept off my feet by Lola and the Boy Next Door! I don't think you can truly understand how hilarious this book is until you read it. I found myself laughing out loud more times than I could count and having a smile plastered on my face throughout the entire novel. Perkins is just such a funny, creative writer! And her character of Lola Nolan was absolutely endearing and original. And man, oh man did I love Lola Nolan. She was just such a pleasure to read about! Narrated in her sweet and funky voice, she amazed me with each turn of the page. And swoon-worthy Cricket was definitely a great addition to the story, especially since he wasn't swoon-worthy in the normal fashion of YA books. Which leads me to one of my favorite things about Stephanie Perkins' novels: imperfections. Both Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door were filled with imperfect characters. Each character has their little quirks and flaws that make them all the more lovable. Lola is colorful and bubbly, always decked out in some sort of crazy costume. Cricket is adorably sweet and gawkily tall. Together they play off each other in the most endearing way, making me love them more and more each scene. They are realistic and interesting characters, which just makes the novel all the better. Lola and the Boy Next Door, despite it's cutesy name, isn't just a cutesy, light novel. It's also a story that tackles real issues with humor and heart. The concept and definition of one's identity and place in the world comes to play a lot in the novel. And I really enjoyed the way it was underlined in the story. It wasn't in-your-face, but still an integral piece of the picture. Overall, I just want to hug Lola and the Boy Next Door and never let go. It lifted my heart, put a stitch in my side, and made my cheeks ache from smiling so much. This is a novel you want to read. It's one that anyone can and will love. And one that has painted a glittery, quirky little place in my heart. - Ciara who is lost at midnight
Date published: 2012-07-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I love Lola. I love Cricket. I loved this book. Well holy crap. This book was so cute, and so awesome. I was cheering for Cricket the entire time, but I also felt (in the beginning) that Max was a good guy too. So I wondered how Lola was going to get herself out of that situation. I don’t even think I can explain how upbeat and how happy this book made me feel. Cricket is not the kind of guy we’ve become use to these days. He’s not sarcastic, rude, tough, and doesn’t hide his feelings. He says what he means, he openly cares for everyone, he’s polite, and he’s funny but talks straightforward. He’s a nerd, he doubts himself, but he knows what he wants. Cricket Bell is finally the good guy who wins in the end. The straight-up good guy whose best friend is his sister and who would do anything for his family. And Lola. Well, Lola is creative and shows her emotions through what she wears. She expresses herself and never worries what other people think. She’s determined to not let her genetics speak for her, and make a path for herself. She is definitely someone you can aspire to be. Although she does make mistakes, she tries to figure things out, and when she makes a mistake she earns people back. This novel takes you into the life or someone who isn’t afraid to express herself. They touch on the lives of unconventional families and how sometimes they may just be better than normal ones because of their ‘unnormal’ status. Perkins brings many different lives all rolled into one story, and makes you love every character. This book is one that is staying on my shelf for a long time. Good: Lola: And individual who has to accept herself, and others and learn that she needs to encouraged others like they have encouraged her. And I love her costumes Cricket: By far the nicest guy all around. Man I would love for this six-foot-four-inch nerd to be my neighbour. Nathan and Andy: Awesome. Just awesome Dads. Lindsay: She takes the dream of wanting to be Nancy Drew to a whole new level. Bad: Nothing really Bad. I thought it was a very well done book. There were some moments that were awkward. When she said “Uncle….Cricket.” He cringes and she says he remembers everything. But I have no clue what any of that means. But oh well. Overall (Writing style, story line, and general): Overall, like I previously said, there were some awkward moments that I was just not sure about but the story was too good to get tied up on those small things. I loved the story lines, I loved the characters, I loved it all. Stephanie Perkins sure knows how to write a story about young love and still make it realistic. She acknowledges sex, drugs, and alcohol but made her character a positive influence without it seeming like she lives in an unrealistic world. On the contrary there are some very dark histories to some of the characters. Stephanie Perkins brings a little more colour to our world with Lola and the Boy Next Door. View more of my review and others at my blog: www.mynotsovacantshelf.blogspot.com
Date published: 2012-07-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from First Loves Run Deep This book was all about first loves and how they never go away. Feelings linger, yes. But so does the hurt... Lola's first love, Cricket, is back in town, and will be for a while. But is she ready to come face to face with the emotions that she's kept bottled up for 2 years? I mean, she's in love with her boyfriend, Max, so there's point in making everything complicated. He's the one, right?
Date published: 2012-05-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another piece of perfection from Stephanie Perkins! Stephanie Perkins, please don't ever stop writing! Anna and the French Kiss was undoubtedly one of my favourite contemporary reads of the year, and let me just say that Lola and the Boy Next Door just proves once again how GENIUS this author can be. Lola and the Boy Next Door is such an amazing book! It's beautiful and heartwarming and awkward and realistic and everything that a first love should be. Like with Anna and the French Kiss, the writing is detailed yet never boring, and it evokes so much emotion that there should be a warning for tears. Not only does this book have a flawless writing style, a breathtaking plot, and tons of swoon-worthy scenes, but the characters are perfectly imperfect. I absolutely adored Lola with all of her costume quirks, and I love love LOVED Cricket! (And if a girl who has a phobia of bugs can say that sentence, then you should know he must be a damn amazing guy.) Anna and the French Kiss was pure magic, but Lola and the Boy Next Door was the breathtakingly genuine romance that every girl wants — and just might get. I could recommend these books a million times and it still wouldn't be enough, so just know that Lola and the Boy Next Door is a book you HAVE to read! BUY or BORROW?: Buy it for sure! I'm usually more of a paranormal fan, but Perkins always writes books that are so realistic and easy to connect with that I just want to sit there and re-read them over and over again! :)
Date published: 2012-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Sweet YA Romance Novel! Why can't all romantic contemporary novels be just like one written by Stephanie Perkins? With such ease, she seems to effortlessly weave swooning romantic tales that melt your heart while still tackling family issues in a coming-of-age story. And even without hearing all the amazing praise for Lola and the Boy Next Door, I already knew I would be falling in love with the novel because I completely adored Anna and the French Kiss! As soon as I began reading Lola and the Boy Next Door, I knew there was no way I would be putting it back down. My eyes were instantly glued to the page, drawn in by Lola's bright personality and the eccentric creativity she poured into her outfits. On the outside, she comes across as very confident and sure of herself, but on the inside, she still has her doubts and insecurities. Cricket was sweet and kind, but he's also rather shy and slow in making decisions as he puts a lot of thought into his actions first. He has his own cool sense style that totally complements Lola's... and it was also definitely one of the signs that meant they should be with together! But these two also have a complicated history filled with misunderstandings that have kept them apart, adding tension to their once tight friendship. There was a certain vulnerability in Lola and Cricket which appeared whenever they were together, so I really enjoyed seeing them offer support to each other when it was much needed. I loved how Cricket was trying to make up for what he done in the past by not letting the girl of his dreams get away again, but it took awhile for Lola to finally come to her senses.... I was ridiculously happy whenever Anna and Étienne appeared in the novel! I just love those two so much... and as soon as they were first mentioned, a smile lit my face. Perhaps because the novel lacked the magic of a Paris setting this time around, but there was still something missing about the novel I can't quite put my finger on... So, I'm still favouring Anna and the French Kiss more than Lola and the Boy Next Door! While Lola and Cricket are an adorable couple, I still loved seeing Anna and Étienne finally be together more, I guess. Stephanie Perkins sure knows how to write perfect love stories that absolutely leave you swooning! Lola and the Boy Next Door was an awesome companion to one of my absolute favourite novels and I loved how the characters seemed to once again leap right off the pages! I can't wait to read the final companion novel, Isla and the Happily Ever After, when it's released next year! You can also read this review at: http://midnightbloomreads.blogspot.com/2011/10/lola-and-boy-next-door-by-stephanie.html
Date published: 2011-10-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Beautiful and Tender Love Story! Stephanie Perkins, once again, she dazzled me with a marvelous story and adorable characters that I will never, ever forget. Lola and the Boy Next Door is, no doubt, my new addition to favorite reads of this year. Delightful and outstanding are the words I'd like use to describe Perkins works. She caused such a big impression on me when I read Anna and the French Kiss, that I had troubles satisfying myself with many post-Anna reads. Now, I dare to say that Perkins is the one author, in this genre, that can dazzle me in the way she does. However, I am still more attached to Anna and the French kiss than to Lola and the Boy Next door. Yet, Lola still reached my expectations! The characters are so charming! Lola and Cricket are, as I said before, adorable! I love the way Perkins brings them to life by making them imperfect. They have personal conflicts that we can easily empathize to. Lola and Cricket's innocent relationship will make you appreciate more the simple and tiny things in life. Also, I highly appreciate the way Perkins illustrates Lola's fathers. Yes, Lola has two fathers because she was raised by her gay uncle Nathan and his boyfriend Andy. Perkins, clearly explain how this happened and she procures to remove some common taboos in gay couples such as "who is the woman in their relationship" while there is no woman at all. They are both gay men, gay fathers, and they are the way they are, period! There is also Max, Lola's boyfriend who simply didn't feel right. Norah, Lola's birth mother and source of great conflict in Lola's life. And Lindsey, Lola's best friend and constant support. By the end of the book, it is outstanding to see the character's growth. It feels, for me, like a reward to see how they have changed for good and specially, to see how Cricket's presence brings a balance to Lola's life. A bright point in Lola's story is the setting. Stephanie Perkins surprised her readers, once again, with a unique and beautiful place called San Francisco. How I wish I could go there! Also, another bright point in Lola's story is her friendship with Anna and St-Clair! Yes! Anna and St-Clair from Anna and the French Kiss are characters in this book!! How happy I am to see them again and to know how their life is going in San Francisco. I've missed them for such a long time, and it's so good to see that some of my favorite characters are still alive not only in my mind, but also in pages. A delightful and tender love story that will keep you floating among pink sugary clouds. Lola and the Boy Next Door is a remarkable read that you will always remember. If you want to read something that will make you smile, blush, swoon, laugh, and even cry of sadness and happiness, then Lola and Cricket will guaranteed you all this and more! and... don't forget to have a Kleenex with you when you read the last sentence. ~It made me cry! (of happiness ;). Trivia- I am one of those readers who always reads Acknowledgments. I highly recommend you to read Perkins' Acknowledgement in this book. You will be so surprised!!
Date published: 2011-10-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Adorable Lola And The Boy Next Door is a companion novel to Anna And The French Kiss which is one of my Favorite books and I have to say that I thought this book was adorable. The one thing is I think this book is a bit more of a 4.5 to a 5 stars to me I'm a bit on the fence just because I found that even though this book was great it didn't seem as good as Anna, but like I said this book was still amazing. I thought the story line was really good and had a nice flow about it, the characters were really great I thought Lola herself was very unique and fun and of course Cricket he was just so cute. I loved Lola's dads they were so funny and fun. I loved the writing it seems very effortless with Perkins and I love how she makes things flow in the book. And the last thing I would love to talk about is that I LOVED that Anna and St.Clair were in this book and not just a cameo they were in it in it which was awesome and I can't wait till her next companion comes out. If you liked Anna And The French Kiss you will really enjoy this book as well and if you haven't read Anna GO PICK IT UP NOW. :0)
Date published: 2011-10-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Stephanie Perkins Does It Again There's no doubt that Stephanie Perkins knows how to write ideal romances. They aren't ever perfect, in fact they are far from that. They are slow not instant, developing and not empty. In the case of Stephanie's companion novel Lola and the Boy Next Door, the story sets off in a different direction versus Anna and the French Kiss. Lola is beyond your typical fashionista, she's a lover of different, unique, sparkly and BIG! The bigger the better and the wilder the more outrageously excited she'll become. With a somewhat balanced lifestyle of costume making, hanging out with her unapproved rocker boyfriend, and her two wonderful fathers, Lola doesn't expect the dreaded Calliope and Cricket Bell to move back in next door. You see, Lola doesn't have the happiest of past memories with the two twins and their moving back brings back foul memories she was hoping to have forgotten. Weaving a Wondrous Cast of Lovable Characters Something I instantly grew to love in Anna, and then again in Lola, was Stephanie's immense cast of lovable characters. Each and every single one of them had their own distinct and vibrant personality, ones that would easily shine through the pages. The characters certainly seemed to take a life of their own and I quickly found myself connecting with them. Lola was an out of the ordinary character who equally held an openly unique passion for fashion, though she came across as severely dishonest in regards to her emotions. I found that extremely disheartening, especially in a protagonist I had hoped to adore. Cricket was handsome, slightly shy, easily inspired, and passionate about his love for inventing. I feel as if I loved Cricket most of all, who always appeared to be true to himself and the way he felt. Max, however, I instantly disliked. He didn't come across as appreciative of Lola or interested in their relationship. He also seemed fairly judgmental, which wound up putting me off quite a bit. Lola's fathers were the icing on the cake - I adored them! They were quirky, strict, and loving. It was also fun getting to see Anna and Etienne once again (Anna and the French Kiss), who made several cameo's in the novel. A Little Less Romance and a Little More Growing One of the biggest reasons that I love Stephanie Perkins' novels as much as I do is that they tend to take me back in time, back to high school, and fill me with overwhelming feelings of young love and swooning over boys, wondering whether or not they like you. As you grow older you sort of loose that innocent, giddy feeling and I'm glad that Stephanie's novels have the ability to bring me back to that point in time. Unfortunately, in terms of Lola, it didn't make as much of an impact as Anna did. For one, Anna was filled with romance, along with it's added struggles and hurtles, but Lola, however, came across as more of a story of personal growth, leaving it with a little less romance. Though it isn't necessary to read Anna and the French Kiss prior to reading Lola and the Boy Next Door, it is suggested if you want the full experience. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins featured and abundance of lovable characters, character growth, and hopeful love - a read that readers with a soft spot for romance will want to covet for themselves!
Date published: 2011-10-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Love Story Lola and Cricket, Lola and Cricket. One Word: LOVED!!!! I practically read this book in one day. I did like Lola, and people could relate to her. I love how she expresses herself through her clothing, she is a new person, but she does hide behind them because of some family issues, but what family doesn't have issues. Her dads were also great, and played major roles in Lola's life. Lola's mother in my opinion should have been there more, but based in the book after a few months, she grows on you. I even fell in love with Cricket and his beautiful personality. *wishes for a real life Cricket* I wish all guys were like him because he doesn't care about what you wear, + smart, goes to Berkeley where the lovely Etienne St. Clair goes to school. I loved seeing him and Anna again, see where they are after Paris. From the first moment you meet him on the window sill you will fall in love with this boy, who cares about Max. Max's character was an interesting one, he did appreciate Lola's appearance, but he was too old for her, but he could have been nicer at the end. He was the bad boy. The ending was by far the best!! I LOVED this book 3 Cricket, and the rest of the characters:) This love story is a home run in my books, I couldn't stop reading it!! Like Anna, it had everything that was needed: 1. A unique girl 2. Hot neighbor boy, 3. Anna and Etienne. Perfect Combo in books. If you liked Anna you will love Lola & Cricket. If you are need of a good read check out Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door because this author is one of the best!!
Date published: 2011-10-03

Extra Content

Read from the Book

The boy next door is back in Lola’s life. Cricket. His name explodes inside of me like cannon fire. I move toward our windows. His curtains are open. The bags he brought home are still on his floor, but there’s no sign of him. What am I supposed to say the next time we see each other? Why won’t he stop ruining my life? Why does he have to ask me out now? And Max knows about him. It shouldn’t matter, but it does. Max isn’t the type to keep bringing it up, but he is the type to hold on to it. Save it for when he needs it. Did he believe me when I told him that I love him? That I don’t even like Cricket? Yes, he did. And I’m in love with Max. So why don’t I know if the other half was a lie?OTHER BOOKS YOU MAY ENJOYAlong for the Ride Sarah DessenAnna and the French Kiss Stephanie PerkinsThe Disenchantments Nina LaCourGeek Charming Robin PalmerIf I Stay Gayle FormanIsla and the Happily Ever After Stephanie PerkinsJust Listen Sarah DessenJust One Day Gayle FormanMy Life Next Door Huntley FitzpatrickThe Truth About Forever Sarah DessenWhen It Happens Susane ColasantiWhere She Went Gayle FormanTable of Contents The boy next door is back in Lola's lifeOther Books You May EnjoyTitle PageCopyright PageDedication chapter onechapter twochapter threechapter fourchapter fivechapter sixchapter sevenchapter eightchapter ninechapter tenchapter elevenchapter twelvechapter thirteenchapter fourteenchapter fifteenchapter sixteenchapter seventeenchapter eighteenchapter nineteenchapter twentychapter twenty-onechapter twenty-twochapter twenty-threechapter twenty-fourchapter twenty-fivechapter twenty-sixchapter twenty-sevenchapter twenty-eightchapter twenty-ninechapter thirtychapter thirty-onechapter thirty-twochapter thirty-threechapter thirty-four AcknowledgementsAn Exciting Preview of ISLA and the Happily Ever AfterDutton BooksA member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Published by the Penguin Group | Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A. | Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) | Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England | Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd) | Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd) | Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India | Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) | Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa | Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Copyright © 2011 by Stephanie Perkins All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review written for inclusion in a magazine, newspaper, or broadcast. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content. Library of Congress Cataloging-in -Publication Data Perkins, Stephanie.p. cm.Summary: Budding costume designer Lola lives an extraordinary life in San Francisco with her two dads and beloved dog, dating a punk rocker, but when the Bell twins return to the house next door Lola recalls both the friendship -ending fight with Calliope, a figure skater, and the childhood crush she had on Cricket.ISBN: 9781101529485[1. Dating (Social customs)—Fiction. 2. Costume design—Fiction. 3.Fathers and daughters—Fiction. 4. Neighbors—Fiction. 5. Ice skating—Fiction. 6. San Francisco (Calif.)—Fiction.] I. Title. PZ7.P4317Lol 2011 [ Fic ]—dc23 2011015533  For Jarrod, best friend & true lovechapter oneI have three simple wishes. They’re really not too much to ask.The first is to attend the winter formal dressed like Marie Antoinette. I want a wig so elaborate it could cage a bird and a dress so wide I’ll only be able to enter the dance through a set of double doors. But I’ll hold my skirts high as I arrive to reveal a pair of platform combat boots, so everyone can see that, underneath the frills, I’m punk-rock tough.The second is for my parents to approve of my boyfriend. They hate him. They hate his bleached hair with its constant dark roots, and they hate his arms, which are tattooed with sleeves of spiderwebs and stars. They say his eyebrows condescend, that his smile is more of a smirk. And they’re sick of hearing his music blasting from my bedroom, and they’re tired of fighting about my curfew whenever I watch his band play in clubs.And my third wish?To never ever ever see the Bell twins ever again. Ever.But I’d much rather discuss my boyfriend. I realize it’s not cool to desire parental approval, but honestly, my life would be so much easier if they accepted that Max is the one. It’d mean the end of embarrassing restrictions, the end of every-hour-on-thehour phone-call check-ins on dates, and—best of all—the end of Sunday brunch.The end of mornings like this.“Another waffle, Max?”My father, Nathan, pushes the golden stack across our antique farmhouse table and toward my boyfriend. This is not a real question. It’s a command, so that my parents can continue their interrogation before we leave. Our reward for dealing with brunch? A more relaxed Sunday-afternoon date with fewer check-ins.Max takes two and helps himself to the homemade raspberry-peach syrup. “Thanks, sir. Incredible, as always.” He pours the syrup carefully, a drop in each square. Despite appearances, Max is careful by nature. This is why he never drinks or smokes pot on Saturday nights. He doesn’t want to come to brunch looking hungover, which is, of course, what my parents are watching for. Evidence of debauchery.“Thank Andy.” Nathan jerks his head toward my other dad, who runs a pie bakery out of our home. “He made them.”“Delicious. Thank you, sir.” Max never misses a beat. “Lola, did you get enough?”I stretch, and the seven inches of Bakelite bracelets on my right arm knock against each other. “Yeah, like, twenty minutes ago. Come on,” I turn and plead to Andy, the candidate most likely to let us leave early. “Can’t we go now?”He bats his eyes innocently. “More orange juice? Frittata?”“No.” I fight to keep from slumping. Slumping is unattractive.Nathan stabs another waffle. “So. Max. How goes the world of meter reading?”When Max isn’t being an indie punk garage-rock god, he works for the City of San Francisco. It irks Nathan that Max has no interest in college. But what my dad doesn’t grasp is that Max is actually brilliant. He reads complicated philosophy books written by people with names I can’t pronounce and watches tons of angry political documentaries. I certainly wouldn’t debate him.Max smiles politely, and his dark eyebrows raise a titch. “The same as last week.”“And the band?” Andy asks. “Wasn’t some record executive supposed to come on Friday?”My boyfriend frowns. The guy from the label never showed. Max updates Andy about Amphetamine’s forthcoming album instead, while Nathan and I exchange scowls. No doubt my father is disappointed that, once again, he hasn’t found anything to incriminate Max. Apart from the age thing, of course.Which is the real reason my parents hate my boyfriend.They hate that I’m seventeen, and Max is twenty-two.But I’m a firm believer in age-doesn’t-matter. Besides, it’s only five years, way less than the difference between my parents. Though it’s no use pointing this out, or the fact that my boyfriend is the same age Nathan was when my parents started dating. This only gets them worked up. “I may have been his age, but Andy was thirty,” Nathan always says. “Not a teenager. And we’d both had several boyfriends before, plenty of life experience. You can’t jump into these things.You have to be careful.”But they don’t remember what it’s like to be young and in love. Of course I can jump into these things. When it’s someone like Max, I’d be stupid not to. My best friend thinks it’s hilarious that my parents are so strict. After all, shouldn’t a couple of gay men sympathize with the temptation offered by a sexy, slightly dangerous boyfriend?This is so far from the truth it’s painful.It doesn’t matter that I’m a perfect daughter. I don’t drink or do drugs, and I’ve never smoked a cigarette. I haven’t crashed their car—I can’t even drive, so they’re not paying high insurance rates—and I have a decent job. I make good grades. Well, apart from biology, but I refused to dissect that fetal pig on principle. And I only have one hole per ear and no ink. Yet. I’m not even embarrassed to hug my parents in public.Except when Nathan wears a sweatband when he goes running. Because really.I clear my dishes from the table, hoping to speed things along. Today Max is taking me to one of my favorite places, the Japanese Tea Garden, and then he’s driving me to work for my evening shift. And hopefully, in between stops, we’ll spend some quality time together in his ’64 Chevy Impala.I lean against the kitchen countertop, dreaming of Max’s car.“I’m just shocked she’s not wearing her kimono,” Nathan says.“What?” I hate it when I space out and realize people have been talking about me.“Chinese pajamas to the Japanese Tea Garden,” he continues, gesturing at my red silk bottoms. “What will people think?”I don’t believe in fashion. I believe in costume. Life is too short to be the same person every day. I roll my eyes to show Max that I realize my parents are acting lame.“Our little drag queen,” Andy says.“Because that’s a new one.” I snatch his plate and dump the brunch remains into Betsy’s bowl. Her eyes bug, and she inhales the waffle scraps in one big doggie bite.Betsy’s full name is Heavens to Betsy, and we rescued her from animal control several years ago. She’s a mutt, built like a golden retriever but black in color. I wanted a black dog, because Andy once clipped a magazine article—he’s always clipping articles, usually about teens dying from overdoses or contracting syphilis or getting pregnant and dropping out of school—about how black dogs are always the last to be adopted at shelters and, therefore, more likely to be put down. Which is totally Dog Racism, if you ask me. Betsy is all heart.“Lola.” Andy is wearing his serious face. “I wasn’t finished.”“So get a new plate.”“Lola,” Nathan says, and I give Andy a clean plate. I’m afraid they’re about to turn this into A Thing in front of Max, when they notice Betsy begging for more waffles.“No,” I tell her.“Have you walked her today?” Nathan asks me.“No, Andy did.”“Before I started cooking,” Andy says. “She’s ready for another.”“Why don’t you take her for a walk while we finish up with Max?” Nathan asks. Another command, not a question.I glance at Max, and he closes his eyes like he can’t believe they’re pulling this trick again. “But, Dad—”“No buts. You wanted the dog, you walk her.”This is one of Nathan’s most annoying catchphrases. Heavens to Betsy was supposed to be mine, but she had the nerve to fall in love with Nathan instead, which irritates Andy and me to no end. We’re the ones who feed and walk her. I reach for the biodegradable baggies and her leash—the one I’ve embroidered with hearts and Russian nesting dolls—and she’s already going berserk. “Yeah, yeah. Come on.”I shoot Max another apologetic look, and then Betsy and I are out the door.There are twenty-one stairs from our porch to the sidewalk. Anywhere you go in San Francisco, you have to deal with steps and hills. It’s unusually warm outside, so along with my pajama bottoms and Bakelite bangles, I’m wearing a tank top. I’ve also got on my giant white Jackie O sunglasses, a long brunette wig with emerald tips, and black ballet slippers. Real ballet slippers, not the flats that only look like ballet slippers.My New Year’s resolution was to never again wear the same outfit twice.The sunshine feels good on my shoulders. It doesn’t matter that it’s August; because of the bay, the temperature doesn’t change much throughout the year. It’s always cool. Today I’m grateful for the peculiar weather, because it means I won’t have to bring a sweater on my date.Betsy pees on the teeny rectangle of grass in front of the lavender Victorian next door—she always pees here, which I totally approve of—and we move on. Despite my annoying parents, I’m happy. I have a romantic date with my boyfriend, a great schedule with my favorite coworkers, and one more week of summer vacation.We hike up and down the massive hill that separates my street from the park. When we arrive, a Korean gentleman in a velveteen tracksuit greets us. He’s doing tai chi between the palm trees. “Hello, Dolores! How was your birthday?” Mr. Lim is the only person apart from my parents (when they’re mad) who calls me by my real name. His daughter Lindsey is my best friend; they live a few streets over.“Hi, Mr. Lim. It was divine!” My birthday was last week. Mine is the earliest of anyone in my grade, which I love. It gives me an additional air of maturity. “How’s the restaurant?”“Very good, thank you. Everyone asking for beef galbi this week. Goodbye, Dolores! Hello to your parents.”The old lady name is because I was named after one. My great-grandma Dolores Deeks died a few years before I was born. She was Andy’s grandmother, and she was fabulous. The kind of woman who wore feathered hats and marched in civil rights protests. Dolores was the first person Andy came out to. He was thirteen. They were really close, and when she died, she left Andy her house. That’s where we live, in Great-Grandma Dolores’s mint green Victorian in the Castro district.Which we’d never be able to afford without her generous bequeathal. My parents make a healthy living, but nothing like the neighbors. The well-kept homes on our street, with their decorative gabled cornices and extravagant wooden ornamentation, all come from old money. Including the lavender house next door.My name is also shared with this park, Mission Dolores. It’s not a coincidence. Great-Grandma Dolores was named after the nearby mission, which was named after a creek called Arroyo de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores. This translates to “Our Lady of Sorrows Creek.” Because who wouldn’t want to be named after a depressing body of water? There’s also a major street around here called Dolores. It’s kind of weird.I’d rather be a Lola.Heavens to Betsy finishes, and we head home. I hope my parents haven’t been torturing Max. For someone so brash onstage, he’s actually an introvert, and these weekly meetings aren’t easy on him. “I thought dealing with one protective father was bad enough,” he once said. “But two?Your dads are gonna be the death of me, Lo.”A moving truck rattles by, and it’s odd, because suddenly—just that quickly—my good mood is replaced by unease. We pick up speed. Max must be beyond uncomfortable right now. I can’t explain it, but the closer I get to home, the worse I feel. A terrible scenario loops through my mind: my parents, so relentless with inquiries that Max decides I’m not worth it anymore.My hope is that someday, when we’ve been together longer than one summer, my parents will realize he’s the one, and age won’t be an issue anymore. But despite their inability to see this truth now, they aren’t dumb. They deal with Max because they think if they forbade me from seeing him, we’d just run off together. I’d move into his apartment and get a job dancing naked or dealing acid.Which is beyond misguided.But I’m jogging now, hauling Betsy down the hill. Something’s not right. And I’m positive it’s happened—that Max has left or my parents have cornered him into a heated argument about the lack of direction in his life—when I reach my street and everything clicks into place.The moving truck.Not the brunch.The moving truck.But I’m sure the truck belongs to another renter. It has to, it always does. The last family, this couple that smelled like baby Swiss and collected medical oddities like shriveled livers in formaldehyde and oversize models of vaginas, vacated a week ago. In the last two years, there’s been a string of renters, and every time someone moves out, I can’t help but feel ill until the new ones arrive.Because what if now is the time they move back in?I slow down to get a better look at the truck. Is anyone outside? I didn’t notice a car in the garage when we passed earlier, but I’ve made a habit out of not staring at the house next door. Sure enough, there are two people ahead on the sidewalk. I strain my eyes and find, with a mixture of agitation and relief, that it’s just the movers. Betsy tugs on her leash, and I pick up the pace again.I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about. What are the chances?Except . . . there’s always a chance. The movers lift a white sofa from the back of the truck, and my heart thumps harder. Do I recognize it? Have I sat on that love seat before? But no. I don’t know it. I peer inside the crammed truck, searching for anything familiar, and I’m met with stacks of severe modern furniture that I’ve never seen before.It’s not them. It can’t be them.It’s not them!I grin from ear to ear—a silly smile that makes me look like a child, which I don’t normally allow myself to do—and wave to the movers. They grunt and nod back. The lavender garage door is open, and now I’m positive that it wasn’t earlier. I inspect the car, and my relief deepens. It’s something compact and silver, and I don’t recognize it.Saved. Again. It is a happy day.Betsy and I bound inside. “Brunch is over! Let’s go, Max.”Everyone is staring out the front window in our living room.“Looks like we have neighbors again,” I say.Andy looks surprised by the cheer in my voice. We’ve never talked about it, but he knows something happened there two years ago. He knows that I worry about their return, that I fret each moving day.“What?” I grin again, but then stop myself, conscious of Max. I tone it down.“Uh, Lo? You didn’t see them, by any chance, did you?”Andy’s concern is touching. I release Betsy from her leash and whisk into the kitchen. Determined to hurry the morning and get to my date, I swipe the remaining dishes from the table and head toward the sink. “Nope.” I laugh. “What? Do they have another plastic vagina? A stuffed giraffe? A medieval suit of armor—what?”All three of them are staring at me.My throat tightens. “What is it?”Max examines me with an unusual curiosity. “Your parents say you know the family.”No. NO.Someone says something else, but the words don’t register. My feet are carrying me toward the window while my brain is screaming for me to turn back. It can’t be them. It wasn’t their furniture! It wasn’t their car! But people buy new things. My eyes are riveted next door as a figure emerges onto the porch. The dishes in my hands—Why am I still carrying the brunch plates?—shatter against the floor.Because there she is.Calliope Bell.chapter twoShe’s just as beautiful as she is on television.” I poke at the complimentary bowl of cookies and rice crackers. “Just as beautiful as she always was.”Max shrugs. “She’s all right. Nothing to get worked up over.”As comforted as I am by his state of unimpress, it’s not enough to distract me. I sag against the railing of the rustic teahouse, and a breeze floats across the reflecting pool beside us. “You don’t understand. She’s Calliope Bell.”“You’re right, I don’t.” His eyes frown behind his thick Buddy Holly frames. This is something we have in common—terrible vision. I love it when he wears his glasses. Badass rocker meets sexy nerd. He only wears them offstage, unless he’s playing an acoustic number. Then they add the necessary touch of sensitivity. Max is always conscious of his appearance, which some people might find vain, but I understand completely. You only have one chance to make a first impression.“Let me get this straight,” he continues. “When you guys were freshmen—”“When I was a freshman. She’s a year older.”“Okay, when you were a freshman . . . what? She was mean to you? And you’re still upset about it?” His brows furrow like he’s missing half of the equation. Which he is. And I’m not going to fill him in.“Yep.”He snorts. “That must have been some pretty bitchy shit for you to break those plates over.”It took fifteen minutes to clean up my mess. Shards of china and eggy frittata bits, trapped between the cracks of the hardwood floor, and sticky raspberry-peach syrup, splattered like blood across the baseboards.“You have no idea.” I leave it at this.Max pours himself another cup of jasmine tea. “So why did you idolize her?”“I didn’t idolize her then. Only when we were younger. She was this . . . gorgeous, talented girl who also happened to be my neighbor. I mean, we hung out when we were little, played Barbies and make-believe. It just hurt when she turned on me, that’s all. I can’t believe you haven’t heard of her,” I add.“Sorry. I don’t watch a lot of figure skating.”“She’s been to the World Championships twice. Silver medals? She’s the big Olympic hopeful this year.”“Sorry,” he says again.“She was on a Wheaties box.”“No doubt selling for an entire buck ninety-nine on eBay.” He nudges my knees with his underneath the table. “Who the hell cares?”I sigh. “I loved her costumes. The chiffon ruffles, the beading and Swarovski crystals, the little skirts—”“Little skirts?” Max swigs the rest of his tea.“And she had that grace and poise and confidence.” I push my shoulders back. “And that perfect shiny hair. That perfect skin.”“Perfect is overrated. Perfect is boring.”I smile. “You don’t think I’m perfect?”“No.You’re delightfully screwy, and I wouldn’t have you any other way. Drink your tea.”When I finish, we take another stroll. The Japanese Tea Garden isn’t big, but it makes up for its size with beauty. Perfumed flowers in jewel-toned colors are balanced by intricately cut plants in tranquil blues and greens. Pathways meander around Buddhist statuary, koi ponds, a red pagoda, and a wooden bridge shaped like the moon. The only sounds are birdsong and the soft click of cameras. It’s peaceful. Magical.But the best part?Hidden nooks, perfect for kissing.We find just the right bench, private and tucked away, and Max places his hands behind my head and pulls my lips to his. This is what I’ve been waiting for. His kisses are gentle and rough, spearmint and cigarettes.We’ve dated all summer, but I’m still not used to him. Max. My boyfriend, Max.The night we met was the first time my parents had let me go to a club. Lindsey Lim was in the bathroom, so I was temporarily alone, perched nervously against Verge’s rough concrete wall. He walked straight up to me like he’d done it a hundred times before.“I’m sorry,” he said. “You must have noticed me staring at you during the set.”This was true. His stare had thrilled me, though I didn’t trust it. The small club was crowded, and he could’ve been watching any of the hungry girls dancing beside me.“What’s your name?”“Lola Nolan.” I adjusted my tiara and shifted in my creepers.“Lo-lo-lo-lo Lo-la.” Max sang it like the Kinks’ song. His deep voice was hoarse from the show. He wore a plain black T-shirt, which I would soon discover to be his uniform. Underneath it, his shoulders were broad, his arms were toned, and right away I spotted the tattoo that would become my favorite, hidden in the crook of his left elbow. His namesake from Where the Wild Things Are. The little boy in the white wolf suit.He was the most attractive man who’d ever spoken to me. Semicoherent sentences tumbled around in my head, but I couldn’t keep up with any of them long enough to spit one out.“What’d you think of the show?” He had to raise his voice above the Ramones, who’d started blasting from the speakers.“You were great,” I shouted. “I’ve never seen your band before.”I tried to yell this second part casually, like I had just never seen his band before. He didn’t have to know it was my first show ever.“I know. I would have noticed you. Do you have a boyfriend, Lola?”Joey Ramone echoed it behind him. Hey, little girl. I wanna be your boyfriend.The guys at school were never this direct. Not that I had much experience, just the odd monthlong boyfriend here and there. Most guys are either intimidated by me or think I’m strange. “What’s it to you?” I jutted out my chin, confidence skyrocketing.Sweet little girl. I wanna be your boyfriend.Max looked me up and down, and the side of his lips curled into a smile. “I see you already need to go.” He jerked his head, and I turned to find Lindsey Lim, jaw agape. Only a teenager could look that awkward and surprised. Did Max realize we were still in high school? “So why don’t you give me your number?” he continued. “I’d like to see you sometime.”He must have heard my heart pounding as I sifted through the contents of my purse: watermelon bubble gum, movie-ticket stubs, veggie burrito receipts, and a rainbow of nail-polish bottles. I withdrew a Sharpie, realizing too late that only kids and groupies carry Sharpies. Luckily, he didn’t seem to mind.Max held out a wrist. “Here.”His breath was warm on my neck as I pressed the marker to his skin. My hand trembled, but somehow I managed to write it in clear, bold strokes below his tattoos. Then he smiled—that signature smile, using only one corner of his mouth—and ambled away, through the sweaty bodies and toward the dimly lit bar. I allowed myself a moment to stare at his backside. Despite my number, I was sure I’d never see it again.But he did call.Obviously, he called.It happened two days later, on a bus ride to work. Max wanted to meet in the Haight for lunch, and I nearly died turning him down. He asked about the next day. I was working then, too. And then he asked about the next, and I couldn’t believe my luck that he was still trying. Yes, I told him. Yes.I wore a pink soda-fountain-style waitress dress, and my natural hair—I’m a brunette, average in color—was in two buns like Mickey Mouse ears. We ate falafel and discovered we were both vegetarians. He told me he didn’t have a mother, and I told him I didn’t really either. And then, as I wiped the last crumbs from my mouth, he said this: “There’s no polite way to ask, so I’m just gonna go for it. How old are you?”My expression must have been terrible, because Max looked stricken as I struggled to come up with a suitable answer. “Shit. That bad, huh?”I decided delay was my best tactic. “How old are you?”“No way.You first.”Delay again. “How old do you think I am?”“I think you have a cute face that looks deceptively young. And I don’t want to insult you either way. So you’ll have to tell me.”It’s true. My face is round, and my cheeks are pinchable, and my ears stick out farther than I’d like. I fight it with makeup and wardrobe. My curvy body helps, too. But I was going to tell the truth, I really was, when he started guessing. “Nineteen?”I shook my head.“Older or younger?”I shrugged, but he knew where this was headed. “Eighteen? Please tell me you’re eighteen.”“Of course I’m eighteen.” I shoved the empty plastic food basket away from me. Outside, I was an ice queen, but inside I was freaking out. “Would I be here if I wasn’t?”His amber eyes narrowed in disbelief, and the panic rose inside of me. “So how old are you?” I asked again.“Older than you. Are you in college?”“I will be.” Someday.“So you’re still living at home?”“How old are you?” I asked a third time.He grimaced. “I’m twenty-two, Lola. And we probably shouldn’t be having this conversation. I’m sorry, if I had known—”“I’m legal .” And then I immediately felt stupid.There was a long pause. “No,” Max said. “You’re dangerous.”But he was smiling.It took another week of casual dating before I convinced him to kiss me. He was definitely interested, but I could tell I made him nervous. For some reason, this only made me bolder. I liked Max in a way I hadn’t liked anyone in years. Two years, to be exact.It was in the main public library, and we met there because Max had deemed it safe. But when he saw me—short dress, tall boots—his eyes widened into an expression that I already recognized as an uncustomary display of emotion. “You could get a decent man in trouble,” he said. I reached for his book, but I brushed the boy in the wolf suit instead. His grip went loose. “Lola,” he warned.I looked at him innocently.And that was when he took my hand and led me away from the public tables and into the empty stacks. He backed me against the biographies. “Are you sure you want this?” A tease in his voice, but his stare was serious.My palms sweated. “Of course.”“I’m not a nice guy.” He stepped closer.“Maybe I’m not a nice girl.”“No. You’re a very nice girl. That’s what I like about you.” And with a single finger, he tilted my face up to his.Our relationship progressed quickly. I was the one who slowed things back down. My parents were asking questions. They no longer believed I was spending that much time with Lindsey. And I knew it was wrong to keep lying to Max before things went further, so I came clean to him about my real age.Max was furious. He disappeared for a week, and I’d already given up hope when he called. He said he was in love. I told him that he’d have to meet Nathan and Andy. Parents make him edgy—his father is an alcoholic, his mother left when he was five—but he agreed. And then the restrictions were placed upon us. And then last week, on my seventeenth birthday, I lost my virginity in his apartment.My parents think we went to the zoo.Since then, we’ve slept together once more. And I’m not an idiot about these things; I don’t have romantic delusions. I’ve read enough to know it takes a while for it to get good for girls. But I hope it gets better soon.The kissing is fantastic, so I’m sure it’ll happen.Except today I can’t concentrate on his lips. I’ve waited for them all afternoon, but now that they’re here, I’m distracted. Bells ring in the distance—from the pagoda? from outside the gardens?—and all I can think is Bell. Bell. Bell.They’re back. There were three of them this morning, Calliope and her parents. No sign of Calliope’s siblings. Not that I’d mind seeing Aleck. But the other one . . .“What?”I’m startled. Max is looking at me. When did we stop kissing?“What?” he asks again. “Where are you?”My eye muscles twitch. “I’m sorry, I was thinking about work.”He doesn’t believe me. This is the problem of having lied to your boyfriend in the past. He sighs with frustration, stands, and puts one hand inside his pocket. I know he’s fiddling with his lighter.“I’m sorry,” I say again.“Forget it.” He glances at the clock on his phone. “It’s time to go, anyway.”The drive to the Royal Civic Center 16 is quiet, apart from the Clash blasting through his stereo. Max is ticked, and I feel guilty. “Call me later?” I ask.He nods as he pulls away, but I know I’m still in trouble.As if I needed another reason to hate the Bells.chapter threeMy supervisor is rearranging the saltshakers. She does this with an alarming frequency. The theater is in a between films night time lull, and I’m using the opportunity to scrub the buttery popcorn feeling from my arm hair.“Try this.” She hands me a baby wipe. “It works better than a napkin.”I accept it with genuine thanks. Despite her neuroticisms, Anna is my favorite coworker. She’s a little older than me, very pretty, and she just started film school. She has a cheerful smile—a slight gap between her front teeth—and a thick, singular stripe of platinum in her dark brown hair. It’s a nice touch. Plus, she always wears this necklace with a glass bead shaped like a banana.I admire someone with a signature accessory.“Where in the bloody hell did that come from?” asks the only other person behind the counter. Or more precisely, on top of the counter, where her ridiculously attractive, English-accented boyfriend is perched.He’s the other thing I like about Anna. Wherever she goes, he follows.He nods toward the baby wipe. “What else are you carrying in your pockets? Dust rags? Furniture polish?”“Watch it,” she says. “Or I’ll scrub your arms, Étienne.”He grins. “As long as you do it in private.”Anna is the only person who calls him by his first name. The rest of us call him by his last, St. Clair. I’m not sure why. It’s just one of those things. They moved here recently, but they met last year in Paris, where they went to high school. Paris. I’d kill to go to school in Paris, especially if there are guys like Étienne St. Clair there.Not that I’d cheat on Max. I’m just saying. St. Clair has gorgeous brown eyes and mussed artist hair. Though he’s on the short side for my taste, several inches shorter than his girlfriend.He attends college at Berkeley, but despite his unemployment, he spends as much time here at the theater as he does across the bay. And because he’s beautiful and cocky and confident, everyone loves him. It only took a matter of hours before he’d weaseled his way into all of the employee areas without a single complaint by management.That kind of charisma is impressive. But it doesn’t mean I want to hear about their private scrubbings. “My shift ends in a half hour. Please wait until I’ve vacated the premises before elaborating upon this conversation.”Anna smiles at St. Clair, who is removing the giant ASK ME ABOUT OUR MOVIE-WATCHERS CLUB! button from her maroon work vest. “Lola’s just jealous. She’s having Max problems again.” She glances at me, and her smile turns wry. “What’d I tell you about musicians? That bad boy type will only break your heart.”“They’re only bad because they’re lame,” St. Clair mutters. He pins the button to his own outfit, this fabulous black peacoat that makes him look very European, indeed.“Just because, once upon a time, you guys had issues with someone,” I say, “doesn’t mean I do. Max and I are fine. Don’t—don’t do that.” I shake my head at St. Clair. “You’re ruining a perfectly good coat.”“Sorry, did you want it? It might balance out your collection.” He gestures at my own maroon vest. In between the required Royal Theater buttons, I have several sparkly vintage brooches. Only one manager has complained so far, but as I politely explained to him, my jewelry only attracts more attention to his advertisements.So I won that argument.And thankfully no one has said anything about the vest itself, which I’ve taken in so that it’s actually fitted and semiflattering. You know. For a polyester vest. My phone vibrates in my pocket. “Hold that thought,” I tell St. Clair. It’s a text from Lindsey Lim:u wont believe who i saw jogging in the park. prepare yrself.“Lola!” Anna rushes forward to catch me, but I’m not falling. Am I falling? Her hand is on my arm, holding me upright. “What happened, what’s the matter?”Surely Lindsey saw Calliope. Calliope was the one exercising in the park, as a part of her training. Of course it was Calliope! I shove the other possibility down, deep and hard, but it springs right back. This parasite growing inside of me. It never disappears, no matter how many times I tell myself to forget it. It’s the past, and no one can change the past. But it grows all the same. Because as terrible as it is to think about Calliope Bell, it’s nothing compared to the pain that overwhelms me whenever I think about her twin.They’ll be seniors this year. Which means that despite the no-show this morning, there’s no reason why her twin wouldn’t be here. The best I can hope for is some kind of delay. I need that time to prepare myself.I text Lindsey back with a simple question mark. Please, please, please, I beg the universe. Please be Calliope.“Is it Max?” Anna asks. “Your parents? Oh God, it’s that guy we kicked out of the theater yesterday, isn’t it? That crazy guy with the giant phone and the bucket of chicken! How did he find your numb—”“It’s not the guy.” But I can’t explain. Not now, not this. “Everything’s fine.”Anna and St. Clair swap identical disbelieving glances.“It’s Betsy. My dog. Andy says she’s acting sick, but I’m sure it’s prob—” My phone vibrates again, and I nearly drop it in my frantic attempt to read the new text:calliope. investigation reveals new coach. shes back 4 good.“Well?” St. Clair asks.Calliope. Oh, thank God, CALLIOPE. I look up at my friends. “What?”“Betsy!” they say together.“Oh. Yeah.” I give them a relieved smile. “False alarm. She just threw up a shoe.”“A shoe?” St. Clair asks.“Dude,” Anna says. “You scared me. Do you need to go home?”“We can handle closing if you need to go,” St. Clair adds. As if he works here. No doubt he just wants me to leave so that he can tongue his girlfriend.I stride away, toward the popcorn machine, embarrassed to have made a public display. “Betsy’s fine. But thanks,” I add as my cell vibrates again.u ok?  Yeah. I saw her this morning.Y DIDNT U TELL ME???  I was gonna call after work. You didn’t see . . . ?  no. but im on it. call me l8r ned.Lindsey Lim fancies herself a detective. This is due to her lifelong obsession with mysteries, ever since she received the Nancy Drew Starter Set (Secret of the Old Clock through Secret of Red Gate Farm) for her eighth birthday. Hence, “Ned.” She tried to nickname me Bess, Nancy’s flirty, shop-happy friend, but I wasn’t pleased with that, because Bess is always telling Nancy the situation is too dangerous, and she should give up.What kind of friend says that?And I’m definitely not George, Nancy’s other best friend, because George is an athletic tomboy with a pug nose. George would never wear a Marie Antoinette dress—even with platform combat boots—to her winter formal. Which left Ned Nickerson, Nancy’s boyfriend. Ned is actually useful and often assists Nancy during life-threatening situations. I can get down with that. Even if he is a guy.I picture Lindsey parked in front of her computer. No doubt she went directly to the figure-skating fansites, and that’s how she knows about the new coach. Though I wouldn’t put it past her to have walked up to Calliope herself. Lindsey isn’t easily intimidated, which is why she’ll make a great investigator someday. She’s rational, straightforward, and unflinchingly honest.In this sense, we balance each other out.We’ve been best friends since, well . . . since the Bells stopped being my best friends. When I entered kindergarten, and they realized it was no longer cool to hang out with the neighbor girl who only spent half days at school. But that part of our history isn’t as harsh as it sounds. Because soon I met Lindsey, and we discovered our mutual passions for roly-poly bugs, sea-green crayons, and those Little Debbies shaped like Christmas trees. Instant friendship. And later, when our classmates began teasing me for wearing tutus or ruby slippers, Lindsey was the one who growled back, “Shove it, fartbreath.”I’m very loyal to her.I wonder if she’ll find out anything about the other Bell?“Pardon?” St. Clair says.“Huh?” I turn around to find him and Anna giving me another weird look.“You said something about a bell.” Anna cocks her head. “Are you sure you’re okay?You’ve been really distracted tonight.”“I’m great! Honestly!” How many times will I have to lie today? I volunteer to clean the fourth-floor bathrooms to stop incriminating myself, but later, when Andy shows up to take me home—my parents don’t like me riding the bus late at night—he eyes me with the same concern. “You okay, Lola-doodle?”I throw my purse at the floorboard. “Why does everyone keep asking me that?”“Maybe because you look like . . .”Andy pauses, his expression shifting to barely masked hope. “Did you and Max break up?”“Dad!”He shrugs, but his Adam’s apple bobs in his throat, a dead giveaway that he feels guilty for asking. Maybe there’s hope for Max and my parents after all. Or, at least, Max and Andy. Andy is always the first to soften in difficult situations.Which, by the way, doesn’t make him “the woman.” Nothing annoys me more than someone assuming one of my dads is less-than-dad. Yeah, Andy bakes for a living. And he stayed at home to raise me. And he’s decent at talking about feelings. But he also fixes electrical sockets, unclogs kitchen pipes, squashes cockroaches, and changes flat tires. And Nathan may be the resident disciplinarian and a tough lawyer for the ACLU, but he also decorates our house with antiques and gets teary during sitcom weddings.So neither is “the woman.” They’re both gay men. Duh.Besides, it’s not like all women fit into those stereotypes either.“Is it . . . our neighbors?” Andy’s voice is tentative. He knows if it is about them, I won’t talk.“It’s nothing, Dad. It was just a long day.”We ride home in silence. I’m shivering as I climb out of the car, but it’s not because of the temperature drop. I stare at the lavender Victorian. At the bedroom window across from my own. There’s no light on. The cold gripping my heart loosens, but it doesn’t let go. I have to see inside that room. Adrenaline surges through me, and I jolt up the stairs, into the house, and up another flight of stairs.“Hey!” Nathan calls after me. “No hug for your dear old pop?”Andy talks to him in a low voice. Now that I’m at my bedroom door, I’m afraid to go in. Which is absurd. I’m a brave person. Why should one window scare me? But I pause to make sure Nathan isn’t coming up. Whatever waits for me on the other side, I don’t want interruptions.He isn’t coming. Andy must have told him to leave me alone. Good.

Editorial Reviews

"Step back--it's going to fly off the shelves."--School Library Journal

"A delectable companion to [Perkins's] debut hit, Anna and the French Kiss."--Kirkus Reviews

"Snappy dialogue...a lively romance."--Publishers Weekly