“No et Moi” by Delphine de Vigan (2007) – book review

Moi je me suis dit que si chacun d’entre nous accueillait un sans-abri, si chacun décidait de s’occuper d’une personne, une seule, de l’aider, de l’accompagner, peut-être qu’il y en aurait moins dans la rue. Mon père m’a répondu que ce n’était pas possible. Les choses sont toujours plus compliquées qu’il y paraît.

Lou Bertignac is a precocious (in a good way) 13-year old whose mother is reeling from the anguish of tragically losing her younger sister, and whose family is struggling to move forwards in general. An avid and passionate reader, this dreamy, questioning adolescent becomes fascinated by the idea of interviewing the shadowy world of the homeless for a school report, and makes the chance yet life-changing acquaintance of the slightly older “No”, with her ramshackle and shambolic lifestyle and all it involves.

Worthy winner of the ‘Prix des Libraires’, Delphine de Vigan chooses to expose the frightening statistics of the errant SDF population in Paris today in Lou’s dissertation (“il y a entre 200 000 et 300 000 personnes sans domicile fixe, 40% sont des femmes…et parmi les SDF âgés de 16 à 18 ans la proportion des femmes atteint 70%...”): nothing about this truly well-written novel contains any sugar coating.

Supremely well adapted to the big screen by Zabou Breitman, and beautifully well acted by Nina Rodriguez and Julie-Marie Parmentier, this morality tale of the difficulties of navigating modern life is totally absorbing, and translates well to any large city of our times. Highly recommended reading and viewing, for young people as well as fully-fledged grown-ups.

On est capable d’envoyer des avions supersoniques et des fusées dans l’espace, d’identifier un criminel à partir d’un cheveu ou d’une minuscule particle de peau, de créer une tomate qui reste trois semaines au réfrigérateur sans prendre une ride, de faire tenir dans une puce microscopique des milliards d’informations. On est capable de laisser mourir des gens dans la rue.”

Out of the mouth of babes.

Read in 2010.

Rating : 10/10

Winner of the Prix des Libraires in 2007

Images taken from here and here.
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