Thursday 24 January 2019

Review: Louis and Louise by Julie Cohen

Louis and Louise are the same person born in two different lives. They are separated only by the sex announced by the doctor and a final 'e'.
They have the same best friends, the same red hair, the same dream of being a writer, the same excellent whistle. They both suffer one catastrophic night, with life-changing consequences.
Thirteen years later, they are both coming home.
A tender, insightful and timely novel about the things that bring us together - and those which separate us, from the author of Richard & Judy recommended book Together

Review: After Julie's Cohen's last novel which is basically written backwards, I didn't think she could come up with anything that would blow my mind quite as much as that. Well this novel did that, it is just such an original concept, I literally don't know how she does it. If you are looking for something completely different from the things you usually read then stop what you;re doing and read this now, you won't regret it. 

It took me a little while in the first stages of this novel to realise that we would be living each scene in Louis/Louise's hometown twice because we needed to see how it worked out differently whether we were talking about Louis or Louise. It just completely baffles me how different a life can be based on whether the doctor says you're a girl or a boy a birth and yet how much can be the same too. It is such a thinker of a book and I really took my time over reading it so I could digest and take it all in. 

The origins of both of these characters are so full developed as well. We know about their parents and grandparents, their friends and also their future and so these characters fell completely real and like their story really could have happened. I could relate to and enjoyed spending time with both of them. Louise is a teacher and has a child and so perhaps I feel I could relate to her a little more but I liked them both equally. I liked hearing about their lives outside of their home town, their relationships and their issues and then I liked being able to see how well or not they slotted into their old lives and with their old friendships. Let's face it that kind of thing is hard for anyone. 

I loved the setting of this novel too. The Maine landscape, its damp and its beaches really does add something to the undulating nature of the plot. I enjoyed reading about the contrast between small town Maine and New York (whether that be Brooklyn or Manhattan) and the ways that it has changed over the years the Louis/Louise have been away. 

The fact that this novel deals with what happens if you're born a boy versus if you're born a girl means that there is a lot of gender inclusive language used, that the LGBTQ+ community is represented and the notion of gender and sexuality are not set in stone. Julie Cohen did this really well throughout this novel and I love the fact that there is an author note and acknowledgements included that address these issues head on. 

I really enjoyed this novel. I cried, I laughed, I related but as I keep saying, I feel like my mind was expanded from reading it. It is time.y and it is  well-executed and I don't really think I'll get to read anything like this ever again!

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

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