My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It’s a strange book ‘No and Me’ as it’s one which didn’t really get me until the end. Written originally in French and translated into English, it is full of eloquent and heartbeat like moments that sort of somehow just are, until you reach the end and have a great, glorious, painful moment of revelation that this is what the book was saying and it was what it was saying all along.
So it is not the most easy of reads I have ever had, and frankly I would have put it aside several times. But something kept me going and I think a lot of that is to do with de Vigan’s languid, lovely prose. She writes beautifully and, acknowledging that this is a translated edition, it’s worthwhile acknowledging the skill that George Miller has brought to this text. I haven’t read the original in French but I’m certain, somehow, that it remains this same momentous thing. Even in English, it is very French. The nuances of the language. The precise impreciseness. Those little Gallic moments. They’re all there.
Story wise it is relatively simple. Relatively, I say, when in fact is deep and full of story that is not remotely simple, not at all. Perhaps I should call the story nominally simple for on first glance, that is exactly what it is. Lou Bertignac, gifted, smart, befriends a girl who is homeless. Lou herself is homeless in a way for her house is not a home. Her family are still suffering from the impact of something that happened to them. Lou brings her friend, No, home and things happen. Big things. Life changing things. For all concerned. Paralleled with this, is the relationship between Lou and Lucas, friends, more than friends, and Lou’s relationship with the world.
It is a very quiet book with a very immense heart. I wish in a way that I’d been able to find that heart earlier than I had, but once I did find it, I was a little bit smitten with No And Me.