Friday, 19 March 2010
Review: No and Me by Delphine de Vigan
Released: March 1st, 2010
Grade rating: B+/A-
Lou Bertignac has an IQ of 160 and a good friend called Lucas who gets her through the school day. At home her father cries in secret in the bathroom and her mother hasn't been out of the house properly for years. But Lou is about to change her life - and that of her parents - for good, all because of a school project she decides to do about the homeless. Through the project Lou meets No, a teenage girl living on the streets. As their friendship grows, Lou cannot bear that No is still on the streets when she goes back home - even if it is to a home that is saddened and desolate. So she asks her parents if No can come to live with them. To her astonishment, her parents - eventually - agree. No's presence forces Lou and her parents to finally face the sadness that has enveloped them. But No has disruptive as well as positive effects. Can this shaky, newfound family continue to live together?
No and Me is a touching story about friendship, and what it means to stand by someone when they have no-one else to turn to. It's well written and easy to get caught up in, making it a must-read novel for 2010.
Lou is a charming narrator, and is one of the best I've come across in recent teen fiction. She's far too old for her age, yet innocent when it comes to boys, kissing and other parts of growing up that inevitably play on the teenage mind. She has a kind heart and good intentions, and though she has family problems of her own, she never lets them detract her attention away from No. She really is the best friend you could have, and I loved her.
No, on the other hand, took me a bit longer to warm to. I couldn't figure out what her intentions were, and whether she was just exploiting Lou's kindness. It turns out she wasn't, and by the end of the book, I was rooting for her like you wouldn't believe. Being homeless sounds like hell, and the fact that she coped with it is an achievement in itself. Of course, she had help in the form of Lou and her friend Lucas, and I dread to think where she'd have ended up without them.
Delphine de Vigan's story really appealed to me, with its portrayal of a family in crisis, life in Paris and one girl's unwavering determination to set a stranger's life back on track. It's heartbreaking and hopeful, and leaves you with the knowledge that there are still exceptional people in the world. You just have to be in the right place at the right time to find them.