No and Me – Delphine de Vigan

 Richard and Judy 2010 Winter Read

Translated from the French by George Miller

No and Me is a simple story about a 13-year-old girl who has an intelligence that isolates her from her peers. Difficulties at home make her life even harder, but everything changes when she befriends No, a homeless girl a few years older than her.

The book is very quick to read and contains a nice, heartwarming story, but I found it too straightforward to satisfy me. It felt like a children’s book and the teenage protagonist emphasised this classification.

Several serious issues were raised, but although it contained some emotional scenes I thought the book lacked subtlety. Everything was explained in easy to understand terms – perfect you teenagers, but a little patronising for intelligent adults.

Before I met No I thought that violence meant shouting and hitting and war and blood. Now I know that there can also be violence in silence and that it’s sometimes invisible to the naked eye. There’s violence in the time that conceals wounds, the relentless succession of days, the impossibility of turning back the clock. Violence is what escapes us. It’s silent and hidden. Violence is what remains inexplicable, what stays forever opaque.

I also thought that some of the story line was a bit far fetched, or at the very least over simplified. I don’t want to give anything away (although you can probably guess what happens!) but I have serious doubts about whether the events in this book could happen in real life, especially in the given time frame.

If you are interested in books about teenagers coming to terms with difficult situations then I recommend that you read Luke and Jon instead. The writing quality is far higher and I guarantee that you’ll find it more emotional.

Recommended to those who like simple, sentimental books.

The thoughts of other bloggers:

…its simplicity is part of its charm. Lovely Treez Reads

Beautifully written, touching and original…. Steph Bowe

No and Me is a very powerful book and I think that it is perfect for young adult readers…. Dot Scribbles

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  1. Lu says:

    I have often found that the things that patronizing for intelligent adults are often patronizing for teenagers.

    1. Jackie says:

      Lu, You are right. I know nothing about teenagers, so have no idea when children start to find things patronising. I’m sure that this book will be good for children of a certain age, but I’m afraid I have no idea when they will start to have problems with it.

  2. Amy says:

    This does sound good, though simple. A lot of ya reads are :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Amy, I often struggle to find YA reads satisfying and am very cautious about reading them. The annoying thing is that I only realised that this book was also marketed as YA after I finished it. It is published in two separate editions – a YA one and an adult one. I’m sure YA fans will enjoy this one, but I prefer things that are a little more complex.

  3. Jessica says:

    I keep seeing this book in all the bookshops at the moment, they really seem to be promoting it quite alot. I’ll be avoiding it as I don’t always get on with easier reads so much.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jessica, Richard and Judy seem to have a lot of marketing power, despite not having a TV program any more!

  4. Dot says:

    I can see what you mean about it being simple but I thought it was powerful for YA readers, I know that when I was a teenager I struggled to find books dealing with real issues rather than boys and make-up!

    1. Jackie says:

      Dot, I don’t think I read many books dealing with real issues when I was a teenager either – unless you count Flowers in the Attic ;-)

  5. Alex says:

    Is it just me or is this book everywhere in the book Blogosphere lately? Your first paragraph sounded very much like The Elegance of the Hedgehog.

    I’ve been feeling the same way about some of the YA books I’ve been reading lately. Somehow they’re just not satisfying enough.

    1. Jackie says:

      Alex, Really? I think we must read different blogs as I have only seen it mentioned a couple of times. It is everywhere in the bookshops at the moment, but I couldn’t find that many reviews when I searched.

      You are right about the similarities between this book and The Elegance of the Hedgehog, but although they deal with some similar issues No and Me is A LOT easier to read ;-)

  6. Bookatlas says:

    I thought this book was quite beautiful…I don’t really care if books are marketed to YAs and adults at the same time but it really bugs me when they give different jackets for different editions in order to appeal to kids/adults simultaneously…C’mon publishers, we’re not idiots, we’ll decide whether or not we like a book regardless…we’re not idiots, the cover isn’t going to sway us! To reiterate, this is a beautiful book…Thank you


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