Books Read (But Not Reviewed) in February 2016

Cover image Both novels read (but not reviewed) in February sit in similar territory but each is very different from the other. You may have already read Delphine de Vigan’s No and Me. It was a Richard and Judy choice way back in 2010 so I’m a little late to the party but I can see why they chose it. It’s narrated by Lou, a precociously bright fourteen-year-old with a massive crush on the school rebel.  When her class is set a project of their own choosing, Lou decides to talk about the homeless, asking No, a young woman she’s noticed on the streets, if she’ll take part. Out of this grows a friendship which changes both their lives and helps rescue Lou’s mother from her paralysing grief at the loss of Lou’s sister. It’s a little gem of a book, touching but never sentimental. Not easy to carry off a teenager’s voice well but de Vigan, and her translator George Miller, manage it convincingly.

This one’s also been lurking in the depths of the old TBR pile for a while despite rave reviews Cover image from all and sundry. Akhil Sharma’s Family Life follows eight-year-old Ajay from India to the US as his mother joins his father already ensconced in a job there. Ajay’s brother is all set to take up a place in a prestigious high school when a diving accident renders him irreparably brain-damaged.  What was to be a bright, sunny new life turns into something very different. Narrated by Ajay, it’s an unflinchingly honest book – often very funny, inevitably poignant and made all the more so by the knowledge that it’s based on Sharma’s own life. It look him years to write it – many deadlines missed as he mentions in his acknowledgements – but once published it went on to win the Folio Prize last year of which it is entirely deserving.

That’s it for February. Perhaps March’s adventures in the TBR heap will be a little more cheerful.

12 thoughts on “Books Read (But Not Reviewed) in February 2016”

  1. I haven’t heard of either of these books, but love the sound of both of them! I love the premise of the first one, and love that the second one is based on his own life (although, that, of course makes it even more sad, but I like sad).

    1. Family Life is most definitely for you then, Naomi, although No and Me’s no slouch in the sad stakes!

      1. That was the way I took it! And if I had to choose one it would be Family Life – a mere sliver of a book but it packs quite a punch.

  2. Now there’s a coincidence. I was trying to remember what won the Folio last year only this morning. Which will tell you that I haven’t read it. Another one for the list.

    1. I have to admit my hype-antennae were on alert but I’m pleased to say that it lives up to all those positive reviews.

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