Tuesday, May 26, 2009

French Milk, by Lucy Knisley

This, kittens, brought back soooooooooo many memories for me.

Lucy Knisley is an aspiring cartoonist. This book was the journal that she kept as she and her mother took a six-week trip to Paris between Christmas of 2006 and New Year's of 2007. Both mother and daughter were celebrating milestone birthdays; mom was turning 50, Lucy 22.

Lucy's journal is handwritten and full of whimsical drawings, cartoons, and photos of her stay in Paris. She and her mom rented a small one bedroom apartment in the fifth arrondissement. The apartment makes occasional appearances in the book, under the title "Strange Things About the Apartment." For example:

"There's this standing screen in the corner of the living room featuring fabric printed with hunting/gam paraphernalia...part of why I can't sleep well here is that the sounds at night are unfamiliar--I lie awake thinking: "What the hell was that?! Heat painting scares off any burglars!" (p. 87)

Lucy has a real cartoonist's eye. At the time she wrote the journal, she was a senior at the Art Institute of Chicago, trying to figure out her life post-graduation. Many entries in this journal address her fears of what could happen once college was over: Would she be able to find a job? Get into grad school? Maintain an apartment? Lucy articulates her fears well, not just with her simple writing, but with her wonderful cartoons, which show a lot of emotion and detail.

This is an incredibly sensual book, and not just visually. Lucy includes many, many entries on the delight that is French food. She loves to draw what she has for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and you'll be salivating over her descriptions over this terrific cuisine. You not only can visualize it, but you can almost smell and taste it at certain points.

This book, as I mentioned earlier in this review, brought back a lot of memories for me. I spent the first semester of my junior year of college in Paris. I was 20 at the time, and I remember a lot of the apprehension, angst, and fear I experienced as a twenty-something trying to make my way through the world. Lucy re-captured a lot of those feelings for me. She also made me realize just how much I miss Paris, and how I intend to go back...one day...

French Milk is a very quick read; I finished it in a little over an hour. But the memories of it will linger for a very long time.

You can find Lucy Knisley's website here.

This is the latest entry in my 2009 100+ Reading Challenge, my 2009 Read Your Own Books Challenge, and my 2009 A to Z Challenge. Click on the buttons in the sidebar for all of the archived lists!


Grand Pooba said...

You went to school in Paris? That is so amazing to me. I remember moving away when I was 18 to go to school and that was scary enough!

This book sounds like a good read! Especially because you say it's a journal with drawings and such.

You're well on your way to 100+ for 2009!

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a fun, and refreshingly different, book!

pam said...

Come on over and enter my giveaway, I hope to see you there!!