Tag Archives: love story

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

 

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Skylight Confessions by Alice Hoffman

It goes without saying that Alice Hoffman is one of my favorite authors of all time. I read all of her work that I can get my hands on–some of you may remember my recent review of The Dovekeepers, which is Hoffman’s latest (and some argue, greatest) novel. Skylight Confessions has absolutely nothing in common with the sweeping epic that is The Dovekeepers, however it most certainly hearkens back to Hoffman’s younger voice. While not quite as developed as some of her other stories (and nowhere near as prosaic and powerful as Practical Magic) it was an enjoyable tale nonetheless.

“Real love, after all, was worth the price you paid, however briefly it might last.”

Skylight Confessions told a story spanning several different lives and several generations. It starts with the love story of John Moody and Arlyn Singer–the destinies of whom both change forever when John takes a wrong turn one night and falls in love (or something like it) with the wrong girl. The book follows the life and death of many of the characters, including John and Arlyn’s children(one heroin-addicted, one perfect), the man Arlyn loves, the neighbor John falls in love with, and the strange woman who follows a ghost to the Moody’s glass house. Some pretty intense stuff, that’s for sure. Look out for heavy doses of symbolism, portrayed by a string of pearls Arlyn’s lover gives her, stones that seem to be everywhere, flight/feathers/wings, and ashes wherever a haunted presence is known. This book delves into a very fucked up family situation–with a lot of tragedy–but still manages not to come across as preachy or unduly emotional.

While this is nowhere even close to being Hoffman’s best novel–or even my favorite–it is still quite poignant. I like how she explores the intricacies of the human experience in her books, and always does a great job illustrating the tiny things/events/times that thread us all together. Life is not always so simple, so black and white. While Skylight Confessions wouldn’t be the first book of hers that I’d think to recommend, it’s a must read for any die-hard Hoffman fan.

3 family secrets out of 5


One Day by David Nicholls

Ayiyi… One Day by David Nicholls. Where to begin. I am angry about this story for multiple reasons, and I will tell you not to read on from here if you plan on trying the book for yourself because…

I am about to SPOIL IT. THAT MEANS SPOILERS PEOPLE.

No really, don’t keep reading if you don’t want the story ruined.

This is my last warning.

Ok, to the rest of you that weren’t scared off–I will say three words. City. Of. Angels. You know, that tear-jerker from the 90’s with a less goofy-looking Nicolas Cage (if that’s even possible) and a pre-plastic surgery nightmare Meg Ryan.

*shudder* Anyway, I hope you’ve recovered from that. We’re moving on… Ok, picture City of Angels minus the whole heavenly boyfriend thing.

Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley meet at a post college graduation party. They make out all night and then climb a mountain hungover the next day. Thus begins a infuriating 20 year friendship/infatuation.

To make a long story short, I was tricked by the media into believing that this was a love story. No. This is a watch Emma waste her life, and watch Dexter F-up his life story. Each chapter is a “snap shot” of their relationship, as is, on July 15th every year. And let me tell you, I spent a good 18 to 20 years with these people before they were EVER EVEN IN A RELATIONSHIP. The whole book was Emma not knowing what to do with herself, besides feeling a smug sense of superiority over Dexter’s drug-addled, whore-mongering lifestyle as a TV presenter. Think Ryan Seacrest on coke. In the 80’s. Phew.

Plus, him GETTING SOMEONE ELSE PREGNANT AND MARRYING HER. What kind of love story is that? He’s a douche the whole time!

Then, finally after 20 YEARS of “friendship” they get together. After his nasty divorce from his cheating Meredith-from-Frasier type wife. They are happy. They are in love. They get married. She is the perfect step-mom.

And then, the unthinkable happens.

(Unthinkable, unless you are a Nicholas Sparks fan, however…)

SHE GETS HIT BY A CAR, WHILE RIDING A BICYCLE. AND DIES.

YES. AND DIES.

See the movie connection here? Just when things are getting good, after a lifetime of blah blah blah, she gets rubbed out. Just like that. Good thing the writing was dry enough that I didn’t feel sad about it. I’m only outraged because it seems so cliche. She dies in the end… Really? I’ve seen City of Angels and I’ve seen Moulin Rouge. And I’ve read Where the Red Fern Grows and watched The Land Before Time (which my mom felt SOOO guilty for buying, by the way…) Bambi. The Lion King. Nights in Rodanthe. A Walk to Remember.

You know where I’m going with this?

The whole false sense of security and love, only to have it ripped away from you in the end is incredibly overdone.

The harshness is well deserved. Does the world really need another story like this? The fact that it was a national bestseller just floors me.

Don’t bother with this book. And also, don’t dare ride a bicycle anywhere–especially if you’re a woman. Sheesh. Seems that motorists everywhere are just looking for love-struck women to mow down.

Boo.

1 of 5 stars