I was not a huge fan of Stephanie Perkins' debut novel Anna and the French Kiss, finding it saccharine-sweet and full of the unearned angst that drove me nuts even when I was a young adult, and have even less patience for as a real, bona fide, serious-business adult. But when my daughter, who loved Anna, told me Perkins' second book, Lola and the Boy Next Door was even better, I gave it a try, and was delighted to find her second effort was much improved.::: The Plot :::Lola Nolan lives in San Francisco's Castro District, the daughter of two gay men who sternly disapprove of their 17-year-old daughter dating 22-year-old musician Max. While they regularly put Max through every obstacle they can think of while not demanding Lola break up with him, Lola asserts her independence and personality with an array of costumes and wigs, displaying a quirky flair for the dramatic. When next-door neighbors from the past reappear -- nationally ranked figure skater Calliope Bell and her two brothers -- we learn Lola hasn't always been the confident girl she appears, and Max doesn't seem to treat anyone in her life with respect. Will she stay with Max or does she still have feelings for boy-next-door Cricket Bell?::: Boys to Swoon Over :::While friends swore Etienne St. Clair from Anna and the French Kiss was a boy to make you wish you were 17 again, I'd be willing to relive all that horrible teen angst (and possibly my divorce) to have had a boy like Cricket Bell around when I was a teenaged girl. While Cricket may have made mistakes the first time around with Lola, he's more than willing to wear his heart on his sleeve the second time around, and even a girl with a bad-boy bent like Lola begins to get worn down after a while. If any book can cure young adult of the dark-and-dangerous trend brought about by all the vampires, it's clean-cut Cricket Bell. I think I might even have sighed typing this paragraph.My daughter read this one first, and when we talked about the book, she agreed that Cricket was way more impressive than St. Clair, and I think she sighed about 100 times. If that doesn't sell you on this book, nothing will, because this is a child that's currently reading mostly manga and vampire novels.