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No and me by Delphine de Vigan

No et moi, 2007, Editions Jean-Claude Lattès

No and me, 2010, Bloomsbury

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Epithète Films, 2009

No and me is the story of a gifted but socially awkward middle school student named Lou, and No, a homeless girl. Their friendship teaches Lou about the difficulty of growing up and the tragedies of life.


Diane said I’d like this book and she was right. Although aimed at young-adults, even adolescents, the intelligence and sensitivity of the writing and seriousness of the themes make good reading for adults of any age. Brief research into de Vigan’s life confirmed my impression she knows what she's writing about: like the main characters, she had a difficult relationship with her mother.


The book was made into a film in 2009.

 
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This book is available in English but my copy is in French, so the passages below, (the words of the narrator, Lou), are my translation:

Thinking too much


In life there’s a thing that stinks, a thing we can’t do anything about: it’s impossible to stop thinking. (136)

Sundays


Contrary to most people, I love Sundays when there’s nothing to do. (166)

Is this really contrary to most people? Maybe it's a youth thing. Personally, I love Sundays when there’s nothing to do. What about you? (answer in the comments below!)

Why live in the street when you can go to the homeless shelter...


(No) doesn’t want to go to the homeless shelter because it’s dirty, because you get thrown out at 8 in the morning, because you have to sleep with one eye open to keep from getting robbed, because she needs to leave her belongings somewhere, to have a place to go. She doesn’t want to get help because there won’t be anyone waiting for her, when she gets out, no one to take care of her, because she doesn’t believe in anything anymore, because she’s all alone. (230)

The aloof mother


I wish she would take me in her arms, caress my forehead, my hair, and hold me against her until I stop crying…But my mother stays standing…her arms at her sides…Then I think that violence is there…in this impossible gesture from her to me, this forever suspended gesture. (231)

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