Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Pillow Book of Lotus Lowenstein

Author: Libby Schmais
Pages: 288 pages
Published: December 8 2009, Delacorte Press
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Cover Score: B+
Overall Grade: A-

Summary: Lotus Lowenstein, age almost-16, prefers cafe au lait over your average frappucino and berets over beanies. The ultimate lover of French culture and vintage clothing (primarily Chanel, if it can be found at Brooklyn thrift stores), her dreams of visiting Paris are the only bright spot in her life (along with her BFF Joni and her loyal "pillow book" diary), amid working at a hippie wellness center and being the family member of a New-Agey mom, a moody playwright dad, and a chess-playing genius little brother. But things start to get more interesting (and complicated) when cute, French philosophy-loving Sean joins Joni and Lotus's newly-formed French club at school. But when both girls start falling for the same guy, not even the philosophies of Jean-Paul Sartre can save Lotus now...can a trip to Montreal bring the best friends back together?
My thoughts: I was so, so excited when Random House sent me a copy of The Pillow Book for review. It looked so cute, funny, whimsical, and unique. And thank goodness, my expectations were met. First off, Lotus was a humorous, relatable, and lovable protagonist. She was quirky and was totally relatable. The first-person narration and diary format really helped me get inside Lotus's beret-topped head.
All the French culture inserted into the novel was also a fun bonus. It gave the story oomph and personality, making The Pillow Book a must-read for any Frankophile. I've had bad luck with underdeveloped diary stories, but even though the plot was the teensiest bit flat in this one, I enjoyed the different layers of the story: Lotus's French diet, her family life, the Sean/Joni ordeal, and the trip to Montreal.
Overall, I would definitely recommend The Pillow Book as a cute, hilarious, quirky, and tres elegante read to girls 13 and older.

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