Monday, December 14, 2009

Lotus Lowenstein's My-Life-Is-Merde-but-Have a Bonnes-Fêtes-Anyway Blog Tourapalooza

The Pillow Book of Lotus Lowenstein
by Libby Schmais


An adorable, completely original YA voice.

Lotus Lowenstein's life is merde. She dreams of moving to Paris and becoming an existentialist. Yet here she is trapped in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with a New-Agey mom, an out-of-work dad, and a chess champion brother who dreams of being a rock star. Merci à Dieu for Lotus’s best friend, Joni, who loves French culture enough to cofound their high school’s first French Club with Lotus. At the first meeting, the cutest boy in the world walks in. His name is Sean, and he too loves French culture and worships Jean-Paul Sartre.

At first, Lotus thinks Sean is the best thing to happen to her in years. He’s smart, cultured, and adorable. Unfortunately, though, Joni feels the same way. And having an existentialist view of love, Sean sees nothing wrong with enjoying both girls’ affections. Things come to a head when all three depart for Montreal with their teacher, Ms. G, on the French Club’s first official field trip. Will Sean choose Joni over Lotus? And will Lotus and Joni’s friendship ever recover?

I fell in love with this book. Lotus is such an individual teen. Although the book is fairly serious, there are moments where you will fall over laughing. I know I spent a lot of the time chortling at Lotus' view on life, love and France. I really fell in love with the characters, even Sean - the philandering young man that Lotus falls in love with. The plot was filled with humor and a few twists to keep you reading. Overall, a fantastic novel.

5/5 Roses

Libby Schmais
is the author of the adult nov
els The Perfect Elizabeth and The Essential Charlotte. The Pillow Book of Lotus Lowenstein is her first novel for young readers. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

An Interview with Libby:

When did you decide to start writing and why?

I don’t know if I ever made a conscious decision to start writing. When I was little, I was always scribbling down poems and little stories, just as a way of expressing my feelings. Later on, I kept a journal, although unlike many writers, I always get rid of my journals after I finish them, probably because I know they would embarrass me later.

What inspired you to write this novel?

This book came from a number of different influences, books I was reading at the time, like The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagan and a great book about Sartre and De Beauvoir called Tête-à-Tête. Another huge influence was Brooklyn, where the book is set and where I live. In the book, Lotus hangs out at many of my favorite places (The Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Prospect Park, The Chocolate Room).

How was writing this book different from your adult novels?

I think I purposefully tried to make the book humorous, not dark, because it seems like so many books written for teens now are about very gritty subjects, or about dead girls. I wanted to do something a little different, so the book is pretty light-hearted, although there is a bit of angst and heartbreak along the way.

Lotus is a very unique character, is there any parts of her character written from your own experiences or people you know?

Yes, she definitely has aspects of me, especially her independent and rebellious nature, although hers is perhaps a little more upfront than mine.

Did you do any research for your novel and what was that process like for you?

This book didn’t demand a lot of research. I did refer and quote from The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagan, and I read some books about acting and existentialism, and took a trip to Montreal, but that was about it.

Anything else you want to say to your readers?

I’d just like to encourage you to read what appeals to you, not because it’s a bestseller or what everyone else is reading. Wander around the stacks of a library or bookstore, that’s where I find great books – and of course, a big thank you to all my readers!!! Or as Lotus would say, Grosses Bises (Big kisses)!

What is the French Word du Jour?

Today’s French Word du Jour is parapluie (which means "umbrella"). If you collect all the French words du jour on the Blog Tourapalooza, you can enter a contest to win fabulous prizes (a $25 Sephora gift card and a personally autographed Pillow Book!). Once you’ve visited all the blog tour stops and collected all the words, email the complete list of words to with the subject line “French Word du Jour Contest.” All e-mail entries must be received by midnight (EST) on December 21, 2009. The winner will be selected at random on December 22, 2009. Be sure to include your name, e-mail address, and daytime phone number with your entry (If you're under age 13, give your parent's contact info). The complete My-Life-Is-Merde-but-Have-a-Bonnes-Fêtes-Anyway Blog Tourapalooza schedule can be found at Our next tour stop is Booking Mama on December 15. See you on the road, mes amis!


  1. Great review. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. merci for le fabulous review!

  3. Ok - this is totally not a book I would just pick up, but since you said you just laughed and laughed....ok, I love to laugh while reading, so I'll have to give it a shot.
    Thanks! :)

  4. Ooh this book sounds really good, I'll be adding it to my reading list.

  5. I am going to have to give this a shot

  6. this sounds really cute!
    and I agree with Libby 'bout reading "what appeals to you, not because it’s a bestseller or what everyone else is reading". Sometimes people can be really shy about what books they like; but you should just feel free to read whatever catches your imagination, non? oui!

  7. Hadn't heard of this book before - thanks for the review!

  8. Wow, I've never heard of this book.

  9. Every once and while a nice, lighthearted read is needed. I'm happy you enjoyed this and thanks for the great review and interview.

  10. I love reading books that make me laugh.


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