I love books that inspire me and make me want to read more and more.
I love books that make me want to write.
I love books that make me want to love.
I finished a book called Lola and the Boy Next Door a few nights back. It was the second book published by Stephanie Perkins and the second book of hers that I have read. When I read her first book, Anna and the French Kiss, I could not wait to get my hands on Lola. (I just reread that... I love the awkward. Apologies to any readers named Lola.)
Perkins, man. Girl can WRITE. She is hilarious and pure and full of love and hope. Her books always leave me wonderstruck and ready to fall in love. She writes these boys... I just.... they are unreal. In Anna, the boy de jour is Etienne St. Clair. He's British, and also French, and also American. And also the most perfect specimen I have ever met. Read. Whatever I love him. In Lola, it's Cricket Bell. Adorable, awkward, excited, lovely Cricket.
Don't you hate it when you read a book by an author and it's just so good that you cannot imagine anything being better? And then you go into every other book comparing it to your favorite, never imagining anything could top it. It makes it hard to get in to the other book. I walked in to Lola missing Anna and that world. Luckily for me, ANNA IS IN LOLA! AND SO IS ST CLAIR. And I loved Lola and Cricket enough without the other couple being there. I didn't think it would be possible for me to like a book liked I like Anna but man, Lola won me over.
If you know me, you know that I'm not the biggest fan of the "chick lit" genre. I don't read a ton of books about girls falling in love with the argumentative but suave boy in her math class. I like my books a little bit deeper. But these books are anything but chick lit. They are so smart and so funny. Stephanie Perkins writes these strong girls who aren't chasing boys but seem to happen upon them, just like real life. Her boys are charming and perfect but they have secrets and burdens that humanize them, like real life. Her books are real, if you catch my drift. The characters don't meet and then hate each other and realize through a series of shenanigans that they are meant to be. They just ARE meant to be.
Back to the writing for a hot second. Stephanie Perkins, if you are reading this... first off... I love you so much. Your taste in music is superb (GUYS she makes playlists on 8tracks for her books so you can hear what she heard while writing. Get her out of here. She is perfect.) Here is my question for you. How do you manage to write such romantic and sexy books without every ONCE being corny or cheesy?
Never once during these books do I feel like the romance is forced or cheesy. The whole time I was reading Anna my heart was racing with anticipation and lust for those two to get together. During Lola, I wanted to cry from the beauty and delicacy of it all. It never went over the top, the words were never cliche. It was fresh and alive and heartbreaking. This sentence happened in Lola and I wanted to die:
Did you get that? Anguished. ANGUISHED. Can any word describe love better? It's deep and overpowering and it hurts. Being in love hurts in the best of ways. It's honest and so powerful. Stephanie Perkins gets this. Probably because she loves her husband more than anyone on this planet. Seriously. I've never seen a woman more in love with her husband, and I'm only seeing it through her words. Each dedication is to her husband Jarrod. Also, read the final paragraph of each of her acknowledgement sections at the end of the books. It's for him and it is so lovely and overflowing with love. Stephanie Perkins you are beautiful.
These books make me realize a lot about myself and my writing. But mostly about love. I have been in love a few times in my life. All consuming love. But I don't think anyone has ever loved me back. I have been loved, I have loved, but never equal amounts simultaneously. These books make me so thrilled to find my one. They excite me and urge me to keep on loving, even when it seems in vain. They show me what that love feels like, that one love that tears you apart easily and carries you to the ends of the Earth. Love shouldn't feel forced. It should click like these characters do, or like Stephanie Perkins with her husband.
I can't wait to feel that mutual anguish and honesty. I cannot wait for that day when it all clicks. I cannot wait to find my own St. Clair or Cricket. In the mean time, the books will have to do.
Everyone. Go read these books now.
And Stephanie, thanks again for your words. You are truly beautiful.