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VINE VOICEon 12 August 2010
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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on 18 March 2010
No and Me is the story of Lou Bertignac. A girl who is gifted with an extraordinarily high IQ of 160. For that reason, she is a thirteen year old studying in a class of fifteen year olds. Not only does she stand out because she interprets the world differently, but because she is smaller and less physically developed than the rest of her classmates. Lou's narrative voice is genuinely engaging and endearing. The style of the writing is so accessible that I just fell into the heart of this story and did not want to put it down.

Lou is a remarkable girl who carries out investigations and experiments on the world around her. She tests a range of ready meals to see how much of their content is the same. She measures, she calculates and she seeks to understand the workings of the world. She drifts off on tangents as her mind runs with an idea and she appears disconnected from the people around her. Lou is a fully rounded, quirky and interesting character to read about. There are two other main characters in this novel No and Lucas. No is an eighteen year old homeless girl who Lou connects with and in a way investigates. Lucas is seventeen and is in the same class as Lou because he has been held back two years. He is the ultimate cool guy and rather charming. Each of these characters has a striking depth and mystery about them.

The plot explores their three identities and the relationship between them. In fact in terms of action, there isn't all that much that happens in this book. It is definitely character driven and that is its beauty. The interactions between Lou, No and Lucas and the outside world are fascinating. It is Lou's telling of the story that makes you want to read on.

No and Me also explores contemporary issues. It shows the reader the realities of life for young homeless women in France. It looks at grief, loss and mental illness. It touches on the wrongs in society and inequality and the bureaucracy and barriers that prevents change.

This was a book that I enjoyed every second of reading. The simple narrative is honest, funny and endearing. The heart of the book had meaning and depth. It took me into present day France and showed me some dark truths. But there was also hope and that hope was Lou. A quirky and courageous character who had me believing in a better future so long as we strive for it. No and Me is a great story to be enjoyed by teens and adults alike!
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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.
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VINE VOICEon 16 May 2011
This book was beautifully written, concise and to the point. Although aimed at a Young Adult audience, I felt it could easily cross over into adult reading - even to the extent that many of our more verbose authors might learn to get to the heart of things in far fewer pages.
You would never suspect that this is a translation and the references to areas of Paris often took me by surprise.

Lou Bertingac is only 13, in a class of 15 year olds. She has an IQ of 160 but lacks many social skills and does not mix with her fellow students. Only Lucas, himself two years old for the class, pays her any attention.
So it is not surprising that she is completely freaked out at the prospect of giving a presentation in front of the class. Interestingly, she choses the subject of homeless women for her presentation. To this end she befriends No (Nolwenn), an eighteen year old homeless girl who roams the streets of Paris. No is slow to trust Lou, but eventually we learn the background to No's homelessness and see something of the day to day hardship she endures.
Lou's own home life is far from perfect but she wants to bring No to live with her, in warmth and comfort, which produces many problems in itself.
No and Me is written in an appealingly naiive style and we feel for Lou as she struggles with seemingly easy things like tying her own shoe laces, while, at the same time, she feels compelled to analyse the content of her family's daily meals.

Although this is a short, concise read, we are introduced to many fascinating concepts, particularly the effects of bereavement on Lou's family and her desire to give a home to a homeless person. Also the question of education for children of high IQs; would Lou have been happier in a class of thirteen year olds?
This was a book group read and I am looking forward to a fascinating discussion on the issues raised.
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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.
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on 17 July 2015
A deeper read than you might expect, wonderfully moving - if you are anything like me you might want to have a box of tissues at the ready - and with characters that grab you by the heart and don't let go.

Originally published in French as an adult novel I only hope people aren't put off by the young adult tag given to the English publication.

The story of what happens when Lou (a somewhat precocious and yet lonely thirteen year old two years ahead of her peers at school) opts to do a presentation on the plight of homeless girls and comes across No (short for Nolwenn) an older and certainly more street wise individual on the face of it and yet underneath it all just as lonely and certainly more vulnerable.

Deeply thought provoking and yet without any big revelations. I certainly didn't come away have learnt anything new about the human condition (but then again I'm by no means a teenager), to me the magic of No and Me lay in it being a poignantly beautiful story sublimely written.

Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper.
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