1. Gilbert Blythe, Anne of Green Gables series. Gilbert Blythe doesn’t literally live next door, but he’s exactly the type – he grows up with you, teases and pulls your pigtails when you’re younger, than turns into a kind, sweet friend, then a smoldering romantic interest. Mostly though, he’s just that sweet, dependable, good-looking guy next door that you’ve always taken for granted and one day fall for.
Drug of choise: Watch webseries Green Gables, which is utterly dull for most of its run but sparkles right up with the introduction of Gilbert Blythe offering warm coverings in the rain. See also Staircase Wit’s Top Ten Most Romantic Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe Moments.
2. Cricket, Lola and the Boy Next Door. In Stephanie Perkin’s delightful second novel in her young adult series, Cricket literally lives across the street from strong-willed aspiring clothing designer Lola. The two kind of grow up together, then start to fall in love, have a fight, and Cricket moves away…until he comes back in Lola’s senior year of high school. Lola’s first love now inhabits the balcony across from hers. Cricket is a family friend, loved by her parents, and creative like her – his hobby is mechanical inventions made of metal and wood. Funny, supportive, and vulnerable, he’s very much a boy next door.
I know there are more, but most fictional heroes frankly fall into the snarky, aloof mold or the icy arrogant, combative mold. Who are your favorite boy-next-door figures?
Lola and the Boy Next Door is the second book in Stephanie Perkin’s loosely-linked young adult trilogy (Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, Isla and the Happily Ever After)… it was good stuff, y’all. In fact, dare I say I liked it much better than Anna and the French Kiss? Lola is significantly more grounded than Anna, not emotionally, but just as far as personality and life situation – I had trouble fully identifying with both Anna and Etienne in French Kiss because their lives were so thoroughly privileged. Yes, they both had family troubles which made them more sympathetic, but I’ve never been a drop-dead gorgeous teenager who gets to attend boarding school in France, and I suspect most of the rest of us haven’t either. It was all just a little too much, a little too surreal and fairy-tale-like.
All of which is to say – Lola is much more identifiable – her family’s middle-class, she works a very average job at a movie theater, she’s pretty but not absolutely stunning, and she lives in San Francisco. (Side note: San Francisco as a setting was a delight, as I visit often and love that city. It’s under-utilized as a setting for American books).
Lola Nolan lives with her parents (two married men) in the Castro district in San Francisco, in a delightful if small house passed down by her grandmother. She has a smart, driven best friend and a steady boyfriend in the form of tattooed punk-rocker Max. Life for her is pretty good…until some old neighbors move back in and her life turns upside down. Calliope Bell was Lola’s best friend until she started becoming a star ice skater and dropped Lola for not being cool enough. Calliope’s twin brother Cricket, meanwhile, the soft-spoken, awkward foil to his sister’s shining light, was Lola’s first love. Their relationship ended abruptly (and, traumatically for Lola) almost before it began however, and Lola hasn’t seen either of the Bell twins for years.