December 10, 2009

Review: The Pillow Book of Lotus Lowenstein

By Libby Schmais
Released Dec 9; Review copy provided by publicist
This is part of the Lotus Lowenstein's My-Life-Is-Merde-but-Have a Bonnes-FĂȘtes-Anyway Blog Tourapalooza - stay tuned for my interview!

Book Cover

THE PILLOW BOOK OF LOTUS LOWENSTEIN is exactly what it says: the diary of young francophile. Though the book is short there's a lot going on. Lotus starts a club, falls in love, fights with her best friend, gets a job, raises the money to go to Montreal, and sides with her brother against her parents. (I love the scene where she keeps calling paradiddles something ridiculous. And for those who are curious, a paradiddle is a four stroke pattern, alternating then doubling, ie RLRR LRLL RLRR LRLL. It's used both to show you're cool, or on tenors and a set in order to move from drum to drum without crossing your arms. That's your percussion lesson of the day.)

At first, I found Lotus's personality somewhat grating. Her habit of tossing French words into statements brought back visceral memories of fangirl Japanese. (I wondered if Libby Schmais was doing in on purpose the first time I saw a mention of THE PILLOW BOOK OF SEI SHONAGAN.) The first thing that really made me laugh was Lotus's desire to walk on cobblestones in heels; I've done it, it's not that exciting.

But Lotus's voice grew on me. She's somewhat clueless about adult lives, leading her to be rude to a coworker and such. But she's more perceptive about people her own age than she realizes, as represented by her conversations with her chess prodigy younger brother. What really made me love her is how she handles the love triangle between herself, Sean, and Joni. There's nothing wrong with being honestly non-monogamous, but anyone still in high school is too young too pull it off. It usually takes extra work to make sure no one gets hurt in an open relationship.

I think many guys would find this book too girly, but that young girls will enjoy it immensely. Lotus has an irrepresible personality and an ultimately charming voice. Besides, you might learn something about French culture. Or at least get hungry from all the references to cheese. (Why oh why can I only afford cheddar, jack, and colby? I want that little bag of small cheeses that I could buy at Sainsbury's. So delish.)

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