“Not often does a story remind us of what beautifully complex creatures we are. Julie Cohen has given us that rare gift.”



Louis & Louise by Julie Cohen uses the ‘sliding doors’ narrative format to tell the story of one person, Lou Alder – one life, lived twice. Peggy and Irving Adler have their first and only child Lou (Louis David Alder or Louise Dawn Alder) on 8th September 1978 in Maine, Lou is separated only in the ‘e’ in their name and the gender assigned to them by the doctor at birth.

As Lou grows up, much of their life overlaps in its two narratives; same home town, same friends, same school, same parents, same family history. However, as the story goes on, their gender whether male or female and the way they’re treated soon has a butterfly effect on Lou’s life and the paths they choose. In both narratives though, a life-changing event pushes Lou to move away from town for good, until that is, some news from home draws them back into the secrets and pain from before.

Louis & Louise is a brilliantly told story with an intricately woven plot that twists and turns throughout this twice lived life. Cohen’s writing is brilliantly gripping, intriguing and well-written and truly brings both halves of Lou to life.

What’s more, Cohen uses gender-neutral pronouns (they, them, their) to ensure this book is inclusive to the LGBT+ community and throughout the book, the author highlights the gender stereotypes we enforce on people, in particular, when socialising children, which may impact how they feel about themselves and their identity.

A brilliant exploration of gender, Louis and Louise is an amazing and thoroughly enjoyable story with an absorbing plot full of secrets and mystery – a highly recommended read!


Reviewed by:

Catherine Muxworthy, Booksbirdblog

Added 11th May 2019

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Catherine Muxworthy