Title: No and Me
Author: Delphine de Vigan
Published: March 2010 in UK. In France (No et moi) published in 2007
Pages: 246 (excluding about author, title page, etc.)
‘When I was with No, you could have drawn a circle around us, a circle I wasn’t excluded from, which enclosed us and for a few minutes protected us from the world’ – Lou
No and Me by Delphine de Vigan is partially focused on the life of Lou Bertignac, a 13 year old who has an IQ of 160 and lives in Paris. She’s skipped two years at school, so feels alone and really small compared to her peers. Her friend, Lucas, has been held back two years, and with him, she manages.
However, her home life isn’t all fun and games. After a tragic event, Lou’s mother goes into hibernation and her father starts pretending, and it soon comes to the surface that Lou is lonely.
She performs experiments in her home because of that. For example:
The reaction of different types of bread at setting 8 on the toaster, how long it takes footprints to vanish on the damp floor, how long a mouth-print takes to disappear from a misted-up mirror and more.
Lou goes to Austerlitz railway station to watch people when she meets No, a girl who lives on the streets. Lou doesn’t realise how much No will change her life when they become friends. If Lou’s parents said no when Lou asked if No could stay at their house, then the events that followed would not happen.
No and Me is one of those books where you get sucked right in to the characters’ lives. I really felt for what happened with Lou and No. However, sometimes I felt a little disappointed in No, because I thought she could have handled situations better, but hey, she had had a rough life, so I think it made it more realistic.
No as a character was really hard to understand, she had such a great mix of emotions and it was hard to tell what she was thinking. Because of that, you knew she had had a rough past, and a large portion of the book is about whether No can try and move forward with her life, and try to let the past go.
Sometimes I felt that if Lou’s mum and dad were so estranged, why they had allowed No to come in to the house – I mean, in the UK that wouldn’t happen very often. But I’m not an expert of what happens in France, I’ve only ever seen one French film (never read an originally French book about France) so it confused me slightly.
I believe the relationships described in the book are all really quaint and are developed really well – Delphine de Vigan understands how people react to things and it made the book something of a treasure trove.
If you get the chance to purchase No and Me, get it!
Rating – 5 Stars
As I said above, I believe the relationships are very well put across, but also I think there are interesting lessons and things to think about on reading it. It makes you think about life, friendship, and what it means to take care of someone.