Review: French Milk – Lucy Knisley

I found out about the graphic/travel memoir “French Milk” written (and drawn) by Lucy Knisley over at Coffee Stained Pages where Dominique gave it a rave review saying it was “short, whimsical, but also very poignant”. I have to fully agree, I read it in a couple of hours and it was just what I needed after a long day.

Lucy who is just about to turn 22 and her Mother (who just turned 50) travel to Paris to celebrate their monumental birthdays and to take in all the beautiful scenery that is Paris. Lucy’s drawings explain the story in great detail, showing what they ate for dinner, what they saw in museums and the many things they purchased, like a stunning coat and a really cool army hat for her friend Nelly. It’s also filled with photographs taken by Lucy, which accompany the comic details throughout this memoir.

When Lucy Knisley documented this journey she was at the ripe age of 21/22, that fun age when you’re supposed to figure out what you want to do with your life, where you want to live and most importantly how you’re going to afford your life goals. Being in Paris doesn’t soften the blow that these decisions and plans have to be made, so in turn, travelling to Paris gives Lucy time (six weeks to be exact) to figure it all out. On top of all that, she’s extremely home sick and misses her boyfriend John, who she refers to often. Some people may think that she’s whining… I mean who complains about life when they are in PARIS, but I can feel Lucy’s pain. I was 22 not so long ago (even though my friend said we now look like women the other day… I’m 26) and I understand her anxiety and pressure about jobs, money and men. This is what we all go through when we hit that road block when all those years of school come to a head and people expect you to go out and join the “real world”, so to the people that think Lucy might be complaining too much in this novel, I urge you to remember the feelings you felt when you were just about to graduate… STRESSED!

There is also a strong connection with her parents (especially her Mother) throughout the memoir. Her parents clearly understand her standpoint and support her work in every page of her travel memoir. The shout out in the back of the book to each of her parents made me a little teary… I’m a sap when it comes to family, what can I say?

I’ve never been to Paris before, but I imagine it’s just the way Lucy depicted in her drawings, filled with chic fashionistas, cheese, wine and quaint little coffee shops. It all sounded and looked absolutely fabulous. After reading Lucy’s book, I’d be curious to see if the french milk is really all that different then the milk we have here in North America. Apparently, the differences are so distinguishing that it inspired her to name her book after it… that’s some hard-core dedication to milk!

Pick this up if you’re in the mood for a nice, quick trip to Paris from the comfort of your living room couch.

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