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Thursday, 18 March 2010

Review: No and Me

Author: Delphine De Vigan
Release date: 1st March 2010 UK
Genre: Realism / Issues
Target audience: 12+

Summary from Waterstones.com:
Lou Bertignac has an IQ of 160 and a good friend in class rebel Lucas. At home her father puts a brave face on things but cries in secret in the bathroom, while her mother rarely speaks and hardly ever leaves the house. To escape this desolate world, Lou goes often to Gare d'Austerlitz to see the big emotions in the smiles and tears of arrival and departure. But there she also sees the homeless, meets a girl called No, only a few years older than herself, and decides to make homelessness the topic of her class presentation. Bit by bit, Lou and No become friends until, the project over, No disappears. Heartbroken, Lou asks her parents the unaskable question and her parents say: Yes, No can come to live with them. So Lou goes down into the underworld of Paris's street people to bring her friend up to the light of a home and family life, she thinks.



Review:
No and Me is the story of Lou Bertignac. A girl who is gifted with an extraordinarily high IQ of 160. For that reason, she is a thirteen year old studying in a class of fifteen year olds. Not only does she stand out because she interprets the world differently, but because she is smaller and less physically developed than the rest of her classmates. Lou's narrative voice is genuinely engaging and endearing. The style of the writing is so accessible that I just fell into the heart of this story and did not want to put it down.
 
Lou is a remarkable girl who carries out investigations and experiments on the world around her. She tests a range of ready meals to see how much of their content is the same. She measures, she calculates and she seeks to understand the workings of the world. She drifts off on tangents as her mind runs with an idea and she appears disconnected from the people around her. Lou is a fully rounded, quirky and interesting character to read about. There are two other main characters in this novel No and Lucas. No is an eighteen year old homeless girl who Lou connects with and in a way investigates. Lucas is seventeen and is in the same class as Lou because he has been held back two years. He is the ultimate cool guy and rather charming. Each of these characters has a striking depth and mystery about them.
 
The plot explores their three identities and the relationship between them. In fact in terms of action, there isn't all that much that happens in this book. It is definitely character driven and that is its beauty. The interactions between Lou, No and Lucas and the outside world are fascinating. It is Lou's telling of the story that makes you want to read on.
 
No and Me also explores contemporary issues. It shows the reader the realities of life for young homeless women in France. It looks at grief, loss and mental illness. It touches on the wrongs in society and inequality and the bureaucracy and barriers that prevents change.
 
This was a book that I enjoyed every second of reading. The simple narrative is honest, funny and endearing. The heart of the book had meaning and depth. It took me into present day France and showed me some dark truths. But there was also hope and that hope was Lou. A quirky and courageous character who had me believing in a better future so long as we strive for it. No and Me is a great story!
 

NB: No and Me is currently in production in France and is due for release at the cinema in the Autumn.

16 comments:

5minutespeace said...

I've seen this book quite a lot and people have said great things about it. You're review has definitely persuaded me to put it on my TBR pile. Will be interesting to see how such a young girl copes on the streets of Paris. She may have a high IQ but that wont prepare her for the modernity of Paris.
I love your blog, great background and layout and your reviews seem honest. Will be adding you to my blogroll over at http://5minutespeace.wordpress.com

Rhiana said...

I've been looking at this book, thanks for the fantastic review it sounds really good and right up my street!

Luisa at Chicklish said...

Wonderful review - thank you! I've heard lots of great things about this book and I definitely want to read it.

brizmus said...

Lou sounds like a SUPER interesting protagonist! I'd never heard of this book, but it sounds right up my alley! Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

prophecygirl said...

I loved this book! Will be posting my review tomorrow :)

It's such a heartwarming story, I agree. Great review!

Shweta said...

SOunds really good. Also haven't read much of contemporary lately even in YA. I guess this will be added to my To Be Read list . Loved the review!

ninefly said...

thanks so much for this review! I'm loving the premise, and the characters sound like ones I would enjoy reading about =)

Sasha said...

I agree with everything you said. I really loved this!! :D

The Book Bug said...

I say aye aye to this review! (With a pirate accent of course!) Its a very good book and your reviw does it justice. :)

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Beautifully written review :D

I Want To Read That said...

OOh I wasn't sure about this one but now it sounds great! Thanks for the review:)

Dwayne said...

Intriguing! I think the complexity of this book draws its message well - will maybe read this when I go to uni :) I really feel it's a uni book, you know? XD

Christina/Book Addict said...

I agree, Becky! Great review. Your review has definitely made me add it to my TBR list. I first saw this through SLJ's Webinar, but you made it sound much more interesting. :)

Book Monster said...

Wait they're making a movie of this? Awesome!! Excited to read this one. Great review!!

Lauren said...

I really like this premise, and now I've read your review I especially like the sound of Lou as a character. I had thought the book might be a little bit 'worthy' for my tastes, but it sounds like there's a lot more to it. Great review!

Yunaleska said...

Wow, this might be one book to film movie that I'll watch! It was a realistic read, and puts forward the issue of homelessness in society.