This Is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn

Aidan Chambers, Author
Aidan Chambers, Author . Abrams/Amulet $19.95 (808p) ISBN 978-0-8109-7060-1
Reviewed on: 12/11/2006
Release date: 10/01/2006
Paperback - 821 pages - 978-0-8109-9550-5
Hardcover - 807 pages - 978-0-370-32684-9
Open Ebook - 832 pages - 978-1-4070-9836-4
Paperback - 807 pages - 978-0-09-941776-7
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While waiting for her baby to arrive, 19-year-old Cordelia Kenn constructs a pillow book, a collection of writings on various topics, "a portrait of myself as a teenager." She hopes that when her daughter (she knows it's a girl) turns 16, the two can read the book together, to "find out how similar we are and how different." After a brief introduction, Cordelia begins recounting her experiences from three months before her 16th birthday, when she selects 18-year-old William Blacklin as her first boyfriend for "all-out, all-in-all, all-the-way-sex," prompted by a magazine article stating that "the average age when girls... 'lost their virginity' was sixteen years and three months." Chambers (Postcards from No Man's Land ) starts with a promising premise: the tender relationship that grows between Will and Cordelia. The ensuing discussions (between Cordelia and Will, and also between Cordelia and her aunt) about first love and the role sex plays in a relationship provides much food for thought. However, this 800-page tome starts to ramble after about 200 pages, and may cause readers to lose interest in Cordelia's ruminations. Her narration chronicles her sexual history not only with Will, but with a 50-year-old man, plus her kidnapping and attempted rape by an acquaintance. Readers may well ask why, out of the myriad experiences a teen may wish to record for posterity with the express idea of sharing it with her child, would the heroine choose to focus almost exclusively on her sexual experiences. Ages 16-up. (Oct.)

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