On the surface No and Me seems like a run of the mill Young Adult novel of a teenage girl dealing with both a family tragedy and growing up. Dig a little deeper though and this book is so much more than that, largely because of two factors. The first being the simple yet emotion filled writing style. The story is told not just from a first person point of view but it really did read as if an intelligent teen was retelling it - including those unique rambley off-topic moments, which all just added to the character and effect of the book. In some ways it reminded me of Catcher in the Rye.
The second aspect of this book which made it unlike so many others was Lou herself. Her character was very much like the protagonist in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time (Mark Haddon) in that she used intellectual means, such as mathematical problems, for coping with the emotions of every day life. I really liked how Lou was extremely intelligent but at the same time had issues functioning with normal life. At one point she states that she has an IQ of 160 but can't tie her own shoe laces. She doesn't socialise well and dreads the presentation she has to do in front of the class. She collects food labels to compare the ingredients and conducts various experiments at home just to satisfy her curiosity.
Through Lou we also get to know No, the homeless girl who eventually comes to live with the family, and Lucas a boy in Lou's class. No clearly has her own issues to deal with - living on the streets and then adapting to family life - as does Lucas. Lou and Lucas are complete opposites in their class at school. Lou is two years ahead and Lucas is two years behind. Lucas is the only one who really pays attention to Lou and it makes a unique friendship. There is also the interesting contrast between the naive Lou and the tough, streetwise No. all three are great characters in their own way.
Personally I really enjoyed No and Me but I can see that it is probably one of those love it or hate it kind of books. I'd definitely recommend it if you liked the above mentioned books or if you're looking for something a little bit different.
on 1 March 2010
I read this book in a day, it was so quick and easy and light to get through, yet the subject matter is quite dark in places. There is a lot about loss, about silence and about the violent qualities of those things. Charmingly told through the eyes of a child.
on 24 February 2011
No and Me is an unusual story about two French girls from totally different backgrounds who become friends. Lou Bertignac (Me of the title) is a lonely but extremely bright schoolgirl who lives with her parents in Paris. She has a close relationship with her father but has become detached from her mother. Outside of her home environment she hasn't any friends and spends a lot of her time in thought puzzling on life's many conundrums. Nolwenn (No of the title) is a streetwise homeless eighteen year old who has no family to turn to and lives rough on the streets of Paris.
In a knee-jerk reaction to the questioning of one of her teachers, Lou decides to prepare a project for presentation to the class at school on the homeless. It is while trying to research this that she befriends No.
The novel develops the burgeoning relationship between the two girls in a sympathetic and honest way, highlighting how sometimes it is easier for Lou to talk to No about growing up than it is to discuss these worries with her parents. The book also explores the relationship that develops between No and Lou's parents as the friendship between the two girls becomes stronger and they begin to develop a greater mutual support and understanding for each other.
This is a brief synopsis of the novel and I do not want to go into more depth than I have above because I do not want to give too much of the story away.
In addition to the above, there are many thought provoking questions put forward by Lou throughout the book, to both her father and No, as she attempts to understand her surroundings, and the adult world she is trying to comprehend, which for me added to the overall content of the novel.
I also feel this would be a good choice of book for a Book Club as it offers many topics and issues which could be discussed in a group setting.
on 30 July 2013
This was such a heart-warming book, going to show that you can attempt to change the world bit by bit, however, unsuccessful the end result may be. It takes a lot of courage to take in a homeless person, when you do not know anything about them and attempt to deal with their problems without knowing huge amounts about the cause. It brings a family together and allows people to explore their own personalities allowing you to become more comfortable with who you are, and how you can move towards the future.
It was sad how it ended with characters unable to overcome their issues, but I feel she had done everything she could to help Lou and Lou had done everything she could to help No.
It was beautifully written although short and contained plenty of emotion, really making myself think about what I would do in the situation and how I escape from my own life. It was more aimed towards the younger reader but this does not take away from the story in anyway and I recommend it to readers of any age.
Delphine de Vigan is a French writer from Boulogne-Billancourt, in the Parisian suburbs. "No and Me" is her fourth novel and was first published in France in 2007.
Lou Bertignac, the "me" of the book's title, is a 13 year-old girl who lives in Paris. Although her parents are well-off, her life shows that money can't guarantee happiness. Lou is an only child, following the death of her baby sister four years previously. Her mother, Anouk, has since become a virtual recluse : she lives largely inside her own head, barely aware of what's happening around her. Her father tries his best to hold things together, though he too is struggling and Lou knows how he cries in private. Life at school is little better, despite the fact that Lou is very gifted. With an IQ of 160, she has been moved two classes ahead at school - nicknamed "Brains", and struggling to relate to her classmates, she feels isolated and alone. The closest thing to a friend she has is Lucas, the boy her mother probably would have warned her about. (Lucas and Lou are practically polar opposites and she, naturally, has a massive crush on him). Lucas, a troublemaker with little interest in learning, has been held back two years.
Lou spends some of her free time at Austerlitz railway station, watching the partings. One afternoon, she's approached by an 18-year old homeless girl called meets No, who's hoping to cadge a cigarette. The little time they spend together makes a big impression on Lou, to the point where she bases a presentation at school on No's life on the streets - though, to write the presentation, she'll have to return to Austerlitz and spend more time with No. Having now tossed the pebble, the ripples start spreading.
An easily read, though very sad book - and one that would possibly make a big impression with the upper teens. (I've recently picked up a copy for a nephew; I'm curious to hear what he thinks of it). The story is told by Lou herself, so at no point do we know what's going on inside No's head - nor indeed, do we know what either of Lou's parents are thinking or feeling. There's a lot of sadness, loneliness and isolation and - although No has it worst - things are by no means easy for Lou and her family. Nevertheless, a highly recommended book.
I loved this novel. A beautiful translation of a French book by Delphine de Vigan. This is an incredibly moving and heartfelt tale. Our narrator is Lou Bertignac, a teenage girl living in Paris. In some ways she is incredibly intelligent and a very deep thinker for her age, yet in others she is iinexperienced and innocent. She decides to do a presentation, which she is dreading, to her class on the topic of homelessness, and one day, when at the station induldging in some people watching, she encounters No (short for Nolwenn). No is 18 and homeless. And so begins the story of 'No and Me', as Lou's life is impacted by her new acquantaince with dramatic and lasting results.
This is a wonderful story. It is a fairly short novel, and I think will appeal to young adults and older readers alike. It is very well narrated by Lou, her point of view seems to be captured perfectly. Predominantly we learn about Lou's relationships with her father, good, and with her mother, not so good, and with Lucas, a boy at school who is the one other person in her class that she feels she might understand or have a bond with, despite or perhaps because of, his stark differences to her way of behaving. The chapters are short and encourage you to just keep reading a little bit more.
I really liked the character of Lou, and her attempts to do right, and to reconcile this with the reality of life and its' constraints. I felt that I could really put myself in her place, and understand how she felt about her mother, and about No. So glad to have read this.
on 9 October 2012
This book really touched me deeply. It's easy to read and follow and good for those who struggle to read big books. There aren't any chapters, but it still begins as a new chapter except with a gap where it should be. Lou is very sweet and highly intelligent. In class she is expected to do a presentation and hers is on the homeless. The presentation leads her to interview No, a homeless nineteen year old girl. Like everyone, she has a past. Meanwhile Lou's family is falling apart with her being emotionally robbed by her silent mother. Her father is quite understanding and very nice. Lucas, an oddball character, astonished me. All characters brought tears to my eyes in a good way.
I'm glad I did read it and I don't think it's depressing as one review on here has mentioned. The homeless don't always have a way out and they still have pride despite sleeping along a street or discreetly in a alleyway. Oh, and this book is set in France.
on 1 March 2014
This was the first book in our new book club, chosen without reading the blurb, so chosen completely randomly. I enjoyed the storyline, there were similarities to Curious Incident which I also found entertaining. This is quite a short book, the story moves along at pace and I read it quite easily...not too taxing!
on 23 November 2010
I enjoyed this book,it is short just 246 pages, but I found it quite moving.It tells of a thirteen old girl becoming involved with an eighteen year old girl who is on the streets of Paris. It does stress the dangers of a lack of love can do to the psyche of a young person, and how it can make life so meaniless,and yet all understanding and compassion does not disappear.Other reviewers were critical of the book,but I enjoyed it, and I did not find it far fetched or improbable.
A good read that is short enough not to become a vast waste of time if you do not like it.
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.