This is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn
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This is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn (The Dance Sequence)

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  1,299 ratings  ·  168 reviews
From the winner of the Michael L. Printz Award and the Carnegie Medal, a work of astonishing intimacy and depth

Using a pillow book as her form, nineteen-year-old Cordelia Kenn sets out to write out her life for her unborn daughter. What emerges is a portrait of an extraordinary girl, who writes frankly of love, sex, poetry, nature, faith, and of herself in the world. Her t...more
Hardcover, 816 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by Harry N. Abrams (first published October 25th 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,528)
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Shelley
I cannot believe I actually read this book. Okay, I kind of skimmed the first few hundred pages. But I was so sucked into Cordelia's story that I read the remaining six hundred. (Mostly after midnight and in increments of 150-200 pages. Damn two week check outs.)

It's not a book I'd have thought I'd like. The writing style is kind of lyrical at times, and I have limited patience for writing like that. There's also the a/b page phenomenon, which was odd. (I preferred the b pages.) As other reviews...more
kristina
Aug 03, 2010 kristina rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: someone who likes long books, a girl, someone seeking inspiration, someone who likes love stories
Recommended to kristina by: a male friend
I first picked up this book when a male friend recommended it to me. I've encountered bits and pieces of it through him and when I first went to pick up the book, its size astonished me. When I began to read it, my astonishment only grew - a book with a female narrator, practically spilling herself into these books/boxes that she kept? At sixteen, I instantly liked it, and fell in love with Cordelia. This book immediately became a big source of inspiration for me; I loved the way she could jump...more
Nina
I have nothing really deep or meaningful to say about this, except that this is one of the books that shaped my personality.
I first read this (secretly) when I was 12, and although I shouldn't have (it is pretty "adult") I am so glad I did it! - a total of three times.
This was my introduction to: lesbianism (I kind of couldn't visualize same sex relationships unless there were two guys in it? Weird brain), masturbation (o.O I'm allowed to do that?!), the long, drawn-out, dramatic, romantic, awkw...more
Gizmology
Dec 03, 2007 Gizmology rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: teens and twentysomethings or nostalgic reminiscing adults
I was loving this book -- the first section about her developing relationship with the boy she's decided to lose her virginity to was great -- all the anxiety and excitement and fear of it rang really true to me. BUT then there's THAT PART that everyone mentions, where there are suddenly two parallel storylines, A and B, for more than a hundred pages, like page 191-A, page 192-B, 193-A, 194-B, etc.etc., so you have to decide whether to go back and forth or read all of A and THEN all of B... AAAA...more
Cara Marie
I was thinking about this again as I'm reading The Pillow Book that serves partly as its inspiration. I liked the way it used a variety of writings to tell the story - not just the protagonist Cordelia's diary, but her essays, musings and 'mopes' - the latter being poetry of debatable quality. It was a lovely book. Cordelia could be annoying, and sometimes seemed too sort of well-adjusted liberal in her attitudes towards sex and her body to be real, but it's hard to tell if that was unrealistic...more
April
Fascinating, raw, uncensored thoughts of a teenage girl, as written by an adult man. Suprisingly, he gets a lot of things right. I enjoyed this book simply because the character development was fabulous, and the story telling was honest and sincere. The book's format was also intriguing, not at all chronological, it jumps all over the place but is still cohesive. A book about falling in love and discovering oneself. I will read it again and again.
Jakob Barnes
So I read some other reviews and I saw that many people had problems with the book's length and when there's story A and story B about halfway through. This is one of the only books I've ever read that I feel completely deserves a 5-star rating. The length wasn't a problem for me, nor was the part of the book when it splits into two parts. The length allowed the brilliant author, Aidan Chambers, to make the characters as vivid and imperfect as they were, and to fully throw you into Cordelia's li...more
Hallie
Apr 29, 2009 Hallie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Kelley
I hesitated between three and four stars for this book. On the one hand, it had some excellent qualities: sheer length (~800 pages) without becoming dull, for the most part well-developed characters, a non-linear structure that is intriguing and ends up mostly making sense, and the fact that a middle-aged man successfully and convincingly pulled off a first-person narrative in the character of a teenage girl. On the other hand, while not as creepily all-consuming as Twilight, this novel's love s...more
Meredith
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah
Loooooooooooonggggggg! Confusing part in the middle where you have to read all the left pages in order and then go back to read all the right pages in order. Sad sad sad ending. The thing that really screwed up this book for me was the fact that it was really hard to read because the binding on the hardback wouldn't break so it was hard to hold with just one hand.
Inger
I can't believe I finally finished this book. I have never had this much problem with finishing a book before. And I've got to say, This Is All is one of the most unique books I have ever read.

The book is... strange. I have never had so many mixed feeling reading a book before. My feelings have been ranging between love, hate, admiration, fascination, disgust, anger, confusion, enchantment and frustration. I wanted to throw the book across the room frequently. It took me around TWO YEARS to fin...more
| J
This is one of the thickest books I've ever conquered in such short time. But Aidan Chambers makes it such an easy read. I fell in love with his main characters, as I suppose was the intention. It reads as a diary, from a girl who is astoundingly committed to maintaining it. I envy her for her determination. The ending is abrupt and unfair, but then again so is life. Point made.


I must admit it is almost insulting how much Aidan Chambers understands about young females. We think we're so mysterio...more
Xayide
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erica
This book is so complete. I read it, and I questioned how this Aidan Chambers knew so much about me. I love this book beyond belief. It is so important to me.
Batgirl
the most beautifully written and perfect book
boys - read it to understand girls
girls - it to understand yourself
Lizz
I am halfway through this book. Took a break to reread "Annie on My Mind" because I needed something I could blitz through. I figured I owe Melody the start of a review.

This is a very complex book, in so many ways. It would be very, actually too, easy to say this book annoyed you or lost you or bogged you down in poetic paragraphs that boiled down to making one simple point. Aha! If you say that and are annoyed, then you are missing the point. Or burned your teen years journals. if you did not b...more
Emily Post
This is by far my absolute favorite Realistic Fiction book.
I've read it twice now, and I can't decide which time I liked better.
The first time was an interesting experience, of course, because I was able to be surprised by the plot and meet the characters. However, reading it a second time was like wrapping myself in a warm blanket with a cup of hot cocoa. Not only did I get to return to the wonderfully developed characters, but different aspects of the story stuck out to me anew that might've g...more
Claudia
May 18, 2009 Claudia rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Creative readers and writers
Recommended to Claudia by: Paige
Shelves: chick-lit, ya-books
"When I've read a book which I really like,a book which MATTERS, I feel it belongs to me." Cordelia is NOT talking about THIS IS ALL, but that's the way we all feel while and after reading this amazing book. Cordelia is organizing her journals and 'pillow books' as a gift to her unborn daughter. She wants the baby to know her mother and father as young people, how they met and fell in love, what tore them apart, and what ultimately brings them together again. Cordelia is wise, passionate, observ...more
Melissa
I read this book when I was a Freshman in high school. I can genuinely say it's one of the most intriguing, honest books that I've read. Cordelia Kenn propositions a boy that she's liked for some time, William Blacklin. Now, I think this is what really got me interested in the book; she is very straight forward, and that seems a rarity now a days when it comes to a female protagonist. What was her proposition? That William has sex with her before her sixteenth birthday, because according to stud...more
Jackie
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Christof Jans
I admit, I am no macho. This book is meant for adolescents and preferably the ones of the female kind. That said, this was the first book that left a strange feeling after I had closed it. There were some tears in my eyes and I couldn't explain it to my wife at that moment. I am not going to spoil what gave me that feeling, but this is a great book with no fake sentiments. Thanks to my friend Jane, I got to read the rest of the work of Chambers. And they are all quite strong, but none of them ga...more
Amanda
I saw this book on the shelf at the library, and something compelled me to pick it up and check it out. I wish I hadn't.

I had previously read another book by Chambers--Postcards From No Man's Land, and I wasn't really crazy about it, but I thought it was just the story itself. I have now decided that I just don't particularly care of Chambers' writing style.

I read a little over one hundred of the eight hundred pages of This is All, and I really just could not get into it. I really did not care...more
Katrina
Although This Is All is not really a plot driven novel, I still found myself unable to put it down. I kept wanting to go on to find out what Cordelia would talk about next. As the narrator discusses how her soon-to-be-born child came to be, readers will be drawn in by Cordelia's honesty and openness in discussing her life, her choices, and how both have led her to where she is at the beginning of the novel. I don't know that this book has universal appeal, but if you tend to enjoy novels that t...more
Emma Flanagan
There are certain books which you read and have a profound effect on you. This is one such book.

I read it at around 16, and discovered a character to whom I could relate probably more then any character I had ever come across till then. Here was an average girl, neither popular nor unpopular, who loved reading as much as I did.

In many respects it's a classic Bildungsroman, following Cordelia from 16 as she comes of age. The teenage angst, the first boyfriend, the first time, figuring out who she...more
Kathi
This is, without a doubt, my favourite book of all time. I disagree with other reviewers, for I really loved Cordelia; I didn't always agree with her thoughts or actions but I wanted to know more about them. The ending may be heartbreaking, but I thought it worked well. I think only a very particular person would like this book, but I would have no hesitation at all recommending it to someone I thought would enjoy it.
Melissa
Such a beautiful book that portrays humanity so clearly. The style of writing is wonderful to read, it is very elegant and it flows. It's so easy to get sucked into this book, and Cordelia is such a relatable character. All her relationships are well thought out and there isn't even one detail that is missed. So wonderfully put together.
Amy
I couldn't get into this. I think I read about 50 pages (and that is not saying much, because the book is something like 800 pages). I disliked the Voice. I thought she was too... too. You know, "I'm so sexually liberated" "I'm so smart "I'm a weirdo pregnant teenager who is wise beyond my years" "La La La" I just don't buy it.
Regina Hansson
I wish I could tell you about this book, but I simply can't. Just, please, read it! When I read it, I learned a lot, and I got to know myself better. Sometimes, it felt like it was I who had written the text. And, I just love all the poetry. I would almost like to say that the entire book is one long, wonderful poem.
Dorie Waters
This book changed my life. It was so inspiring! After reading it, I too have begun to keep a pillow book, and it has made me a much more down-to-earth person. It's long, and the Orange book is hard to finish since it is nothing but lists (But it was fun for me, I LOVE lists.). My favorite book OF ALL TIME.
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Born near Chester-le-Street, County Durham in 1934, Chambers was an only child, and a poor scholar; considered "slow" by his teachers, he did not learn to read fluently until the age of nine. After two years in the Royal Navy as part of his National Service, Chambers trained as a teacher and taught for three years at Westcliff High School in Southend on Sea before joining an Anglican monastery in...more
More about Aidan Chambers...
Postcards from No Man's Land Dying to Know You Dance on My Grave The Kissing Game The Toll Bridge

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“Love, being in love, isn’t a constant thing. It doesn’t always flow at the same strength. It’s not always like a river in flood. It’s more like the sea. It has tides, it ebbs and flows. The thing is, when love is real, whether it’s ebbing or flowing, it’s always there, it never goes away. And that’s the only proof you can have that it is real, and not just a crush or an infatuation or a passing fancy” 140 likes
“I’ve always been a slow learner in some areas of my life.mostly the areas known as myself. Or maybe I should say ‘selves.’because the fact is, I’ve never, even as a child, felt I’m only one self, only one person. I’ve always felt I’m quite a few more than one. For example, there’s my jokey self, there’s my morose and fed-up self,there’s my lewd and disgusting self. There’s my clever-clogs self, and my fading-violet-who-cant-make-up-her-mind-about-anything self. There’s my untidy-clothes-everywhere-all-over-my-room self, and my manically tidy self when I want my room to be minimalist and Zen to the nth degree. There’s my confidant, arrogant self and my polite and reasonable and good listener self. There’s my self-righteous self and my wickedly bad self, my flaky self and my bsentimental self. There are selfs I like and selfs I don’t like.there’s my little-girl selfnwhonlikes to play silly games and there’s my old-woman self when I’m quite sure I’m eighty and edging towards geriatric.
The self I show in action at any moment depends on where I am, who I’m with, the circumstances of the situation and the mood I’m in.”
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