“There are some words in the Lord’s Prayer that I don’t know. But I do know the word art. It’s a necessary inclusion, I think. We should all be artists. Especially if God is doing art in heaven; we should follow his example.”The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot – Marianne Cronin
In Summary of The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot
Lenni, a seventeen-year-old girl, befriends Margot, an 83-year-old woman. They have several things in common despite their otherwise unlikely friendship; they are rebellious, fun-loving, witty, and terminally ill. Once they meet in the hospital’s art class, they are inseparable; they bond over how art tells a story about life. They make it their goal to illustrate the story of their 100 collective years of life by painting a memory or event from each year with the hope of telling their stories and hopefully positively affecting at least one other person in the world. Their journey is aided by nurses and the hospital’s chaplain, Father Arthur, along the way to make their dream a reality before they say goodbye.
Warning: Death, infant loss
|Realistic, meaningful dialogue between characters, as well as in relationships and characterization||Lenni past and Margot’s present are less developed|
|Lenni’s illness is presented vaguely, so that her illness is not the primary element to her character; her character is led by her personality||It ended.|
|Upbeat elements and humor sprinkled throughout|
“‘Do you know,’ she said slowly, ‘that the stars that we see the clearest are already dead?… it’s not depressing, it’s beautiful. They’ve been done for who knows how long, but we can still see them. They live on.’”
Someone please call an ambulance because I think my heart snapped in two.
After reading this book, I will never be the same.
Lenni’s young heart and old soul can capture the most hardened of hearts, and Margot is the ultimate definition of a best friend. These characters put life’s tribulations into perspective and provide hope to readers through engaging in art and storytelling.
I wish we had deeper insight into Lenni’s past, as well as Margot’s present, but I am still happy with the novel as-is. As you read this book, you will pick up the pattern that Lenni primarily provides insight into hospital-ward, terminally-ill, modern life, while Margot’s character serves as a connection to the past through the anecdotes she shares from her life. This novel does a bit of jumping around because of this pattern, but it’s not difficult to follow thanks to titled chapters and clear transitions.
Additionally, this book will make you laugh. Just ask my husband – there were several times I was laughing out loud from Lenni’s wit and clear attempts to challenge the world around her. When I reached the end, he walked into the room on me bawling.
Who knew that such a sad book could also be one of the few that makes me literally laugh out loud?
If you are someone interested in diversifying your reading tastes, there is also an LGBTQ element to this novel that is sincere, emotional, and beautiful.
To be honest, I don’t have any critiques for this one. Others may, but this is a book that I don’t see any need for change. As I’m sure Lenni and Margot would agree, some things are the way they are, and they are beautiful in the state that they exist.
Please, if you are going to pick up a book to let into your heart, then let it be this one.
READ IF YOU LIKE: books about friendship, unlikely friendships, historical fiction, art, existential themes, sad yet hopeful stories
Malibu Rising Book Information
- Published: 2021
- Publisher: Harper Perennial
- ISBN: 978-0063017504
- Format: Paperback (ARC copy found in a Little Free Library)
- Length: 352 pages