Lou Bertignac is not like other girls. At thirteen, she is gifted beyond her years, sitting in class with students two years older than her. When put on the spot one day about a presentation topic, quick-thinking Lou agrees to do a report on homeless young women, in the form of an interview. As a result of this project, Lou meets No (Nolwenn) at one of Paris’ subway stations and the two strike an unlikely connection right away. Soon Lou realizes that its her responsibility to help No get off the streets and get back to a regularly life, anyway she can.
This was one book I could not put down. I really fell for Lou. Although I tend to stay away from books featuring gifted children, Lou felt like a normal 13 year old girl. She is an only child, with her mother stuck in a state of deep depression and her dad struggling to keep up appearances and keep everyone happy. In Lou’s words:
I’m thirteen and I can see that I’m not managing to grow up in the right way: I can’t understand the signs, I’m not in control of my vehicle, I keep taking wrong turns, and most of the time I feel like I’m stuck on the side of the road rather than on a racetrack.
Lou instantly bonds with No as a result of their distant relationships with their mothers. In fact, I would call that one of the running themes in the book. Distant mother’s effected Lou, No and Lou’s crush Lucas.
Although No is one of the central characters, I feel as if I never really got to know her. I think it was mostly because the story was told through Lou’s perspective, but I think the author intended to keep No in the dark from the readers.
At what point is it too late? From what moment? The first time I met her? Six months ago, two years ago, five years? Can you get out of a fix like that? How do you find yourself at the age of eighteen out on the streets with nothing and no one?
No is a girl with very serious problems and despite Lou’s help, No keeps falling back into her old, bad habits.
The book is written beautifully. It is very thoughtful and introspective and concise. It’s sad, but not depressing, and I’m very satisfied with the ending. It wasn’t your typical happy ending. Teens with definitely connect with either Lou, No or Lucas. Misunderstood, gifted, yet unchallenged teens trying to figure out life in very real circumstances. The book also encourages readers to look outside of their lives and see the world around them for what it really is.
Book 32 of 2011