The Pil­low Book of Lotus Lowenstein

Lib­by Schmais
  • Review
By – October 10, 2011
Lotus Lowen­stein is a high school sopho­more, liv­ing in Brook­lyn, and fas­ci­nat­ed by all things French. Her goal for the year is to become an exis­ten­tial­ist, go to France, and fall in love.” This young adult nov­el, writ­ten as a first per­son diary, is often laugh out loud fun­ny. Lotus meets Sean, the boy of her dreams, when she and her best friend Joni start a French club at school. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Sean wants to emu­late his idol Sartre and become involved with both girls. Lotus’ insights, com­ments, and often wrong­head­ed­ness give this book its charm. She is a live­ly and unique char­ac­ter giv­en to typ­i­cal teenage com­plaints and schemes. Ulti­mate­ly, though, the novel’s theme is the impor­tance of friend­ship and hon­esty. While Lotus and her fam­i­ly are sec­u­lar Jews, the Jew­ish con­tent of the book is very minor. Lotus com­plains about going to the fam­i­ly seder, and her father tells her it’s the right thing to do because tra­di­tion and fam­i­ly are impor­tant. Lat­er, she describes the seder as, Pharaoh Egypt Moses Blah blah blah, Dayenu, blah blah.” The menu includes brisket, pota­to kugel, mat­zo balls the size of my head,” and strange­ly bar­ley and rugelach. This book will appeal to young teenage girls with its strong char­ac­ters and com­bi­na­tion of humor and romance. Grades 7 and up.
Hillary Zana has a BA and teach­ing cre­den­tial from Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty. She was a day school librar­i­an for many years and has writ­ten many Hebrew text­books avail­able through Behrman House Pub­lish­ers. She cur­rent­ly teach­es Eng­lish and his­to­ry in the Los Ange­les pub­lic school sys­tem and is a Nation­al Cer­ti­fied teacher.

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