NO AND ME by Delphine De Vigan

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

At thirteen-years-old, with an unusually high IQ and a knack for observing things about other people, Lou Bertignac is not only the youngest in her class at school; she is also the most unusual. Painfully shy, she has few friends, save for Lucas, whose company helps her get through each day. At home, Lou's life is also difficult: Her mother hasn't left the house in years and her father spends his days crying in the bathroom. Lou's world is dark and sad... That is, until she meets No.

No is a teenage girl that Lou befriends for the purpose of her school project on homelessness. Despite the different worlds that these two girls come from, a friendship is soon forged between them. Unable to bear the thought of No not having a home or a family to keep her safe, Lou persuades her reluctant parents into letting her new friend stay with the Bertignac family. No's addition to the household forces Lou and her parents to face the sadness that has been enveloping them for so long — but not without some disruptions along the way.

I really loved this novel - Lou was a wonderful character, the writing was fantastic and while the story wasn't filled with huge dramatic events, this book was one I couldn't stop reading until I found out what happened to Lou and No. Everything seemed as if it could exist in the real world, and the French setting was brilliant.

I wished for No to be a stronger character. While I really loved Lou, I wasn't entirely sure why she wanted to help No so much - I felt if I were in Lou's place, I would have given up on her. It felt kind of hopeless, this constant saving of No, only for her to sabotage herself. The ending saddened me, but it was an ending which suited the novel.

This novel reminded me to a degree of Mark Haddon's Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night-Time, though the protagonist of that novel was far more different than Lou was - Lou is only extraordinarily smart and an outsider, but she still has an understanding of other people that the protagonist of Mark Haddon's novel did not. I think this novel will definitely have a lot of crossover appeal and will be enjoyed by people of all ages (I believe it's being released in separate editions for adults and YAs).

Beautifully written, touching and original, No and Me is a book that I strongly recommend you read.
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