Review Blog

May 26 2010

No and Me by Delphine De Vigan

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Bloomsbury, 2010. ISBN: 9780747599838.
Target audience: secondary students of any age. This engaging story is narrated through the eyes Lou Bertignac, a 13 year girl with an IQ of 160 who has been accelerated into year 11. As with many academically gifted teenagers Lou struggles to fit in. On the first page there is a situation at school where "Brains has been caught out", and she admits that she loathes talking in front of the class. Later on she states, "all my life I've felt on the outside wherever I am".At home Lou feels that her mother doesn't love her anymore, since the death of her baby sister Chloe. Lou sees violence in silence. In reality the mother is suffering severe depression and rarely leaves the house.
Lou often goes to Austerlitz railway station in Paris just to sit and watch the emotions of the arriving and departing passengers, as she is bereft of emotion at home. There she meets 18 year No, a frail homeless girl who asked for a smoke.They develop a friendship and Lou incorporates No into her school assignment, with her permission, on homelessness. Later on Lou asks her parents whether No can live with them and they surprisingly say yes, and this has ramifications on the family.
The other main character in the story is Lucas, a 17 year old classmate who supports Lou at school and meets and helps No as well. The plot largely revolves around these three characters and their relationships. The simple narrative makes the book easy to read. It incorporates contemporary issues of grief, mental illness, friendship, troubled teens, neglect, family life and the nature of homelessness. It is thought provoking, disheartening and hopeful in equal measures. No and Me was originally a best seller in France and a feature film is being produced in 2010.
Kay Haarsma

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