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Review: No and Me by Delphine de Vigan

No and Me by Delphine de Vigan
Published by Bloomsbury

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' street people to bring her friend up to the light of a home and family life, she thinks.

I recently got this book on a whim from I wasn't really sure what to expect having never read a translated book before but I actually though it was very sweet.

The story centers around the character of Lou. I enjoyed her as a character as she was a bit younger than the usual age of a main characters in a young adult novel. As the book went on I felt that her goodness shone through demonstrated most beautifully in her interactions with No and the brutally honest narrative, I liked that she was bit younger and told things as they were because she simply didn't know that she ought to soften what she was saying. I loved that she had these quirky little habits (like all of her experiments) and enjoyed how innocent her view of the world was in someways and how mature she was in others.

If you were going to remember this story for anything it would be its portrayal of young homeless women. It really made me for people who in such a unfortunate position they find themselves without a home and it is frightening how easily it seems to have happened to some of them. I loved seeing how Lou entered this world without any fear or discrimination and how she processed everything she saw and went about trying to help.

No makes for an interesting character in this book. She is a feisty young lady who holds her own dealing with all the rubbish she has had in her life. I like her relationship with Lou and I love seeing her she develops through the story once she finally moves in with the family and how simply having her as part of the family changes the family dynamic.

The only thing I didn't like about the book was the final ending. It annoyed me somewhat as I was hoping for a cheerful mood lifter which this wasn't. That said I still thought this was a thoroughly good book well worth the time and effort. A fantastic starting point for me in french Young Adult literature.


Caroline said…
I am *so* glad you liked this book!!
It is one of my favourites and talks about a very interesting (and sadly hardly ever mentioned) subject of homeless people, and especially women.
I know about the end, it is kind of sad, but a happy ending wouldn't have been very realistic...
Great review!