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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
No and Me
by Delphine de Vigan
Age Range: 14+
Thirteen-year-old narrator Lou Bertignac hates the idea of having to give a presentation to the whole of her class. She needs to find a really good subject for her project which will make her stand out. Lou likes to go to Austerlitz station where she watches people. Here she comes face to face with eighteen-year-old No who is living on the streets of Paris. Lou decides that her school project will be on homelessness and that she will interview No. Gradually Lou learns about No’s harsh existence and a growing trust and unlikely friendship develops between the two girls. When No suddenly disappears, Lou scours the seamy Paris underworld to find her. Persuading her parents to allow No to come and live with them Lou desperately wants to believe that No will transform her life, but can anyone really help No?
No and Me is the story of two very different teenage girls. Lou is a vulnerable, but highly intelligent girl with an IQ of 160. She is two years ahead of her peers but doesn’t fit in at school and her life at home is stressful - her father cries secretly in the bathroom and her mother suffers from depression – and she feels unwanted. Lou spends her free time conducting pointless scientific tests about how the world works, all as a way of blotting out her own deep unhappiness.
Delphine de Vignan doesn’t shy away from presenting the harsh realities of homelessness and it is an honest and revealing insight into both Lou’s home life and No’s existence on the streets. She shows that despite Lou’s desperation to make No’s life better by providing her with a proper bed to sleep in and regular meals, this simply isn’t enough to transform her life. A poignant novel that will remain with you long after you have put it down.
No and Me is Delphine de Vignan’s debut novel for young adults and it has become a bestseller in the author’s native France and also in Italy. Originally published in France as an adult novel Bloomsbury has simultaneously published an adult and young adult English edition. A feature film No et Moi is due for release in the autumn of 2010.