No and Me, By Delphine de Vigan, trs George Miller

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The Independent Culture

Lou Bertignac is 15 and has an IQ of 160. At school she's a fish out of water; at home, her mother hardly speaks and never leaves the house, while her father desperately tries to pretend everything's normal. But things start to change when Lou interviews No, a homeless 18-year-old girl, for a school project, befriends her and takes her home. Lou is a kind of Gallic Holden Caulfield – not quite up to speed with the world she lives in, but at the same time viewing it with a clear-eyed, knowing cynicism.

The first-person narrative of this novel captures the voice of a clever, insecure teenager perfectly, which means that at times Lou wears her heart on her sleeve with illuminated arrows pointing to it. But there are flashes of wit, too. Lou describes her vision of herself going to a party with her cool Parisian schoolmates as "like trying to imagine a slug at an international dragonfly convention".

An engaging novel, full of humour and pathos, it could be read with pleasure by anyone, but is particularly suitable for teens making the transition to adult fiction.