Tag Archives: coming of age

This is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn by Aiden Chambers

Let me start by saying that This is All has been sitting in the purgatory that is my To Read list for at least a handful of years. It’s a fictional diary of sorts, detailing the life and writings of 15-19 year old Brit Cordelia Kenn. She begins the book as a sixteenth birthday present to her unborn child and it chronicles her first love, losing her virginity, her budding friendship with a beloved teacher, and the growing pains-strangled relationship that she and her parents struggled with. n232254

I absolutely loved it–thank sweet baby Jesus–because the massive tome is 800 pages long! (And, I’m sure you’ll understand what I mean when I say that there’s Harry Potter 800 pages and… well… everything else 800 pages.) A few months ago I read The Kissing Game by Mr. Chambers and I just didn’t get it. So color me surprised that a 70 year old man could capture the inner-workings of a teenage girl with such clarity!

“The demons of the Devil don’t use your weak weaknesses against you, they use your strong ones. If you’re rational and logical, they argue their case rationally and logically. If you’re loyal and faithful, they turn those against you. If you’re passionate and emotional, they make you passionate and emotional about your worse fears. Your weak weaknesses are no use to them…. They find the strongest weaknesses you didn’t know were yours and use those against you.”

The hugeness of it all is divided into several parts to digest more easily. I didn’t mind that, but for some reason Chambers felt it necessary to have a 150+ page book that required you to flip back and forth every other page A to B to follow two different strains of Cordelia’s experience at once. I understand that one is what she was writing at the time and the other was what she was living at the time, but spare me. It’s awkward enough to support such a heavy book for hours on end without having to keep track of where the hell you are every two pages.

(As a side note: I don’t remember if it was ever described, but I always pictured Cordelia and Will to be black. It doesn’t matter really, but did anyone else find themselves imagining the same thing? Also, the ending and the tampon scene… SAY WHAAAAT?!)

All in all, probably one of the best coming-of-age stories I have ever read. I just wish I had the clarity, strength of character, and insight that Cordelia had when I was floundering through my teen years.

5 mopes of 5


Undine and Breathe by Penni Russon

Undine and Breathe have been sitting forgotten in the purgatory that is my Amazon wish list for god knows how many years. I’m sure my teenage self was intrigued by the vaporous mystical quality to the front jacket flap.

Undine is a teen girl just discovering her innate hidden magic. She lives with her free-spirited mother and baby half-brother. Trout, her best friend/next door neighbor is madly in love with her. Awkwardddd. And lately she’s had a strange urge to be seaside–not to mention the mysterious voice in her head tell her to “come home.”

undine-penni-russon-hardcover-cover-artThis is totally not an E.T. sequel!

I’m not sure what I was really expecting out of Undine and Breathe, but this wasn’t it. I guess I thought she was going to end up as a mermaid or something. This series seemed more like an existential angsty teen crisis than anything. It was a fairly entertaining and easy read, but I wasn’t captivated by it. There seemed to be a lot more thinking than doing in both books and it gave the whole story a hazy quality–like something half-remembered from a dream.

The whole thing would’ve made a very peaceful and dreamy music video, if you catch my drift.

I didn’t particularly care for Undine and I certainly didn’t like the way she treated Trout. He was so nice and he was so horribly friend-zoned that I felt bad for him. I much preferred Max in Breathe, but then again I was disappointed on how she turned out too. n229924

Apparently there is a third book to the Undine trilogy called Drift, but for some weird reason it’s out of print and pretty much only available as an audiobook. I don’t know if I really care enough to track it down…

3 dead fish of 5