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This is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn

(The Dance Sequence #6)

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  2,155 ratings  ·  235 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
Hardcover, 816 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by Harry N. Abrams (first published October 25th 2005)
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Frida Yes, you can read it as a standalone. While I was reading the book, I didn't even know it was part of a series. …moreYes, you can read it as a standalone. While I was reading the book, I didn't even know it was part of a series. (less)

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Average rating 4.31  · 
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 ·  2,155 ratings  ·  235 reviews

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Sep 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: youth, literature
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
Aug 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Irina Elena
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
Dec 03, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Dec 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Sep 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
the most beautifully written and perfect book
boys - read it to understand girls
girls - it to understand yourself
Cara Marie
Jul 06, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
| J
Mar 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Jun 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 04, 2007 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Aly (In Wonderland)
Dec 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult
I remember really liking this book when I read it back in '08 (I think). The story was wonderful, the voice defined and distinguished from the rest. However, I can't remember a whole lot of it, so I will possibly be doing a re-read at one point or another. ...more
Apr 29, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Oct 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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 ta ...more
Oct 19, 2007 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
Dec 01, 2013 rated it liked it
I loved the story as a whole, but wow I really hated the part in the middle where it split in an A and B part.
May 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished-2013
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
Jan 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Dorie Waters
Apr 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Regina Hansson
May 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Victoria Olivo
Dec 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fiction
This book!!! Everyone as a teenager and later as an adult should definitely read this book. I do not agree with every concept in this book but it is a basis that is great to center someone in life. Love love love this book wish I could have read it as a teen. As the sticker on the front cover on my book said "a huge book in every sense" it definitely is. I encourage everyone to read it! ...more
Jul 31, 2013 added it
this was an amazing book! I recognized myself in the main character, it was almost like I was reading a huge part of my ow life. I've laughed, cried and dreamed. 782 pages and every page was worth it!!
I was surprised that is was written by a man, happily surprised (:
He's an artist!
Pamela Bulu
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is my favorite book. It's deep and intimate. The reader follows Cordelia on various escapades as she matures and explores her world. It's filled with poetry and musings as well as narrative and it's completely and totally beautiful and unforgettable. ...more
Jul 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: brit-lit, favorites
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.
Aug 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If there is one book you need to read, it is this one.

When I first came across this, I was intrigued. It seemed so frank, so honest, that I was drawn to it. For example, take the back cover description:

"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 thoughts range widely: on Shakesp
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
Jan 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I honestly don't think there will ever be a book that not only captures the essence of girls, but is also the most heart-wrenching and tear inducing book I will ever read. This book starts off when Cordelia Kenn is only 15. 808 pages later she is twenty and two months old. The reader, girl or boy, learns more about life, love, girls, friendship, relationships, basically everything you can imagine. Though this was a work of fiction, I have never felt closer to a character. One of the best parts o ...more
This book is truly amazing. Ipicked it up in the library and thought it would be some trashy quick (well, quick for the length of it) read about a pregnant girl; oh no, it was much more than that!

Cordelia is a very complex character and though this could put some people off, but drew me in. Part of the charm of the book being so long is that by the end you've read so much about her that she really seems real, you can even imagine her reactions in different situations... or I can at least. Her vo
May 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Creative readers and writers
Recommended to Claudia by: Paige
Shelves: ya-books, chick-lit
"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
Dana Ysabel
Dec 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
(I felt some sort of betrayal when I found out the author was a guy. How could he possibly devise a character so quintessentially female? How could he understand the angst of a teenage girl? Who told him our secrets?)

I love this book. So much. A reread of this book is long overdue. Long, long overdue. I relate to Cordelia so much. I've learned so much from her. The only problems I had are the ending, which left me a bit unsatisfied and certainly heartbroken, and the part (view spoiler)
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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

Other books in the series

The Dance Sequence (6 books)
  • Breaktime
  • Dance on My Grave
  • Nik: Now I Know
  • The Toll Bridge
  • Postcards from No Man's Land

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