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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 30 October 2005
Although aimed at the young adult market, with This Is All, Aidan Chambers takes the reader on a journey which many 'adult' fiction authors wish they could make. Based on the idea of a Japanese Pillow book, we are introduced to Cordellia Kenn who has written about her life from the age of 15 to present, her loves, her dreams and her poetry so that her unborn child will on it's 16th birthday be able to read and learn about Cordellia. I read this over the course of two days (800+ pages) and was totally drawn into Cordellia's life. It is so beautifully crafted that you won't want to put it down. The ending is beyond words. Please read this book whether you are it's target teen audience or as I am of the next generation. One final word, I would think twice about giving it to anyone under 13/14 as it is adult in it's content.
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on 31 October 2005
I've been a fan of Aidan Chambers since I was 15 - ten years on I awaited the publication of TIA with as much anticipation as when I was a teenager. The book is the last in the six part 'Dance Sequence' and I was fairly nervous about how it would compare to the other books. Well, it's absolutely fantastic. Cordelia is an authentic and engaging voice and I defy anyone not to fall in love with her.
This is a fairly weighty, challenging book. It's written as a collection of notes and diaries without any firm chronological order, which takes a bit of getting used to but also makes it feel much more personal. There are quite a few moments of shock and horror and you will cry at least once along the way. It's aimed at a slightly older age group than the earlier books - probably 15+.
Highly recommended for old Chambers fans and newbies!
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on 4 July 2014
The story itself is excellent. However do not buy the kindle version as the formatting is very difficult to read.
The story is separated into books and two of these books are arranged in an (a) and (b) page format with alternate pages being a and the remaining pages being b. All of the a pages are chronological and tell one part of the story while the b pages tell another. This format has not transferred well onto kindle and is very difficult to read. I recommend buying the print book.
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I bought this because I loved Chambers' book: Postcards from No Man's Land and this is supposed to be the end of a series of books of which Postcards was one. I had also read The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, where the idea for this book came from, and was intrigued to see what he would do with it.

In a nutshell it is the story of Cordelia Kenn, in her own words, in which she tells about her life from the age of 15 to the age of 20, and her first love in particular. It sounds simple, it isn't. The book is rich, complex and full of detail. The story is interwoven with excerpts from Cordelia's own pillow book, a kind of diary in which she records impressions, ideas, philosophies and beliefs, and which give the narrative depth, colour and real emotion.

The book is massive, at over 800 pages, split into sections which correspond to key times in Cordelia's life. It is an enormous undertaking.

I thought it was a great book, but at times too complex (i.e. where the pillow book and the narrative events are split down page by page and in which you have to keep changing threads to make sense of the story). I also found Cordelia less than sympathetic at times, although all credit to Chambers as a writer for coming up with such a psychologically believeable and rounded character, not someone just good or bad, but someone who is sometimes compelling and fascinating and other times dammned annoying.

The book has some fantastic twists and turns, particularly towards the end, and I finished it feeling satisfied that it had told me everything I needed to know in a way that seemed real to me. An excellent book for children in their mid to late teens. I would not recommend it to younger children because the sexual content is quite explicit and there are some descriptions of violence in the later sections of the book which I would not be entirely comfortable with a child of say, less than 14 reading.
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on 31 January 2006
This book is absolutely fantastic. I became a fan of this author when I read "Postcards form No Man's Land" when it was first published and I have to say that this book excells itself in a similar way.
The book delves into the life and thoughts of Cordelia Kenn, our main charecter and the book is written by this fictional charecter. Cordelia discusses a wide range of everyday things about life, her relationships with her friends, lovers, parents and her thoughts about random subjects in a frank,honest and sometimes funny manner. This is one of the only books I have read where you really connect with and understand the author (in this case the ficticious Cordelia). The book touches on something everyone can relate to or has experienced - whether its first love, betrayal, poetry, music - EVERYTHING!!!
It's definately worth reading - when the book goes onto random thought sand not her life story, the plot does drag and the size of the book is a little daunting, however it is worth tackling the book and reading it. You won't be dissapointed.
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on 18 July 2011
My daughter loves this book so much that she kept on taking it out from the local library... We came to the point where she just had to have her own copy. We found this one on Amazon. It was delivered quickly and in good condition. It was a very convenient purchase from a reliable source!
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on 18 March 2012
****SPOILER ALERT****
I don't hate this book because it is badly written. I hate it because it is so beautifully written, or at least the first art is...

*****SPOILER ALERT******

The first part of this book is absolutely fantastic. Cordelia is a funny, clever, headstrong, confident young woman with a hell of a lot going for her. She decides what she wants in life and goes after it. I wish I had been that confident and go-get-em when I was her age.

But as soon as Cordelia's boyfriend leaves for University, the whole thing changes. She gets paranoid, she betrays him with another man, destroys their relationship, she gets kidnapped and raped, and then dies a horrible death.

Why would the author create such a lovable character as Cordelia and give her such a fab life, only to absolutely destroy her??
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on 27 February 2008
I picked this book up on impulse at Downtown Disney back in 2006 - Virgin have these great stands with books just sitting there looking inviting and asking to be bought. My husband thought I was mad as this being a hardback - and 800 pages long - is quite a hefty tome! Of course it has since been gathering dust on a shelf for as much as I wanted to read it the sheer weight put me off (I like to read at lunch times and it just looked too heavy to carry to work each day!)

But I finally decided to get stuck in - and it was worth waiting for...

The novel tells the story of Cordelia Kenn, a 19 year old girl, heavily pregnant with her first child - who is writing the story of her youth to present to her daughter when she turns 16. The narrative is broken up with excerpts from Cordelia's *pillow book* - a collection of journals and poems that she had written during the time.

The story focuses on relationships in Cordelia's life, from her first love, to her father, her best friend and those she turns to in times of need and desperation.

I found the book very easy to read - I liked the way the narrative was broken up - it was just like reading journal extracts - or a blog - and I felt I really got to know - and like - Cordelia.

I was slightly confused when reaching book 2 - 200 pages in - when the pages didn't seem to follow on properly... and I realised that this pillow book was actually two - one on the left facing pages and one on the right. With no guidance on how to read it I chose to read the left pages first (mostly abstract journal entries) and then go back and read the right pages (more of a normal novel narrative). This worked well - although it was quite hard to read in such a way - and a bit disheartening to get half way through the book - physically - and then have to go back some 200 pages!

One *warning* I should give is that the book is quite graphic in places - especially when dealing with Cordelia's sexual history. It reminded me of the shock factor of Judy Blume's Forever. While reading I wondered whether I had led a particularly sheltered childhood - or whether the author was letting his imagination run away with him. Yep - slightly odd that such an in depth novel of female teenage years should be written by a man...

But I decided not to dwell on this or it may have put me off!

All in all this was a very enjoyable and insightful novel - and one I would recommend to those with strong enough muscles to tackle it! The good news is that after two years it is finally coming to stores in paperback format in March.
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on 30 January 2007
If I just wrote a plot-line here, almost no one would buy this book. Beacuse, frankly, it's not the plot that's important. Cordelia Kenn is a 16 year old, living in England. I'd say she's a normal teenager, and, in a way, she is - she's not especially talented at anything but english, isn't a beauty-queen, nothing like that. But she THINKS.

This book is amazing beacuse of how it's written. The style, elegance, and use of language is absaloutly undescribable - and added to that is the fact that it's written in first-person as a sort of Cordelia diary. Reading how she thinks and how she looks at the world really opens your eyes. As a character, she's thought-provoking, occasionally funny, almost always witty, and brutally honest. But more than that - like all Chambers' characters, she's really REAL.

THe actual plot line is both simple and complicated - Cordelia wants a boy to lose her virginity with, and her explanations for why all other boys are unsiutable are hilarious as well as true. Of course, as is to be expected, the two of them fall in love - but Chambers dosn't right fairy-tales, and after a terrible mistake on Cordelia's part they seperate.

Cordelia's musings on life in general, and her discoveries about other people, religion, herself, and (it had to go in somewhere!) the meaning of life are interesting, mind-opening, and occasionally sad.

But this is a most beautiful book. It's easy to see how Chambers won the Carneigie Medal - what's surprising is that it wasn't with this book.

Anyone who passes up this book - though I suggest only boys with brains should read this - is making the worst mistake of their life!
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on 8 June 2010
The sheer size of this book may be daunting but every word and every page is worth it.I settled down with this book with the intention of just passing time and ended up spending the better part of a weekend in Cordelia's - the narrator's- world.

It was also a joy to discover that the pillow-book was two books in one. Despite the pages not going serially from a certain point, it is so well-written I couldn't stop reading it. I read it as if it was written serially, but when I was done, I read the second book as a 'stand-alone' book. The effect was not lost either way- if anything the structure made it feel like I had Cordelia's express permission to rifle through her thoughts.

Feeling like I knew Cordelia personally meant that every feeling was felt keenly- the laughter, the tears and everything in between. I was sorry when it ended.
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