Tag Archives: homelessness

‘No and Me’ by Delphine de Vigan

Parisian teenager Lou has an IQ of 160, OCD tendencies, and a mother who has suffered from depression for years. But Lou is about to change her life–and that of her parents–all because of a school project about homeless teens. While doing research, Lou meets No (short for Nolwenn), a teenage girl living on the streets. As their friendship grows, Lou bravely asks her parents if No can live with them, and is astonished when they agree. No’s presence forces Lou’s family to come to terms with a secret tragedy. But can this shaky, newfound family continue to live together when No’s own past comes back to haunt her?

Translated from French, this young adult novel grew on me. It’s definitely a ‘cross-over’ novel, appealing to adults as well as teens. Though it has a bit of a slow start, it has beautiful and important themes about homelessness, adolescence, friendship, and motherlessness. There are only a few characters but that spareness is what makes it great. Most striking is the juxtaposition between the simplicity of the language and the depth of ideas in the novel. There would be a lot to discuss if a book club read this together. It would be a great book for high schools to use in French class (No et Moi)…easy and engaging for teens to read,  but well written and academic enough.

The effects of Lou’s kindness and bravery in inviting No to come and stay is remarkable and has far reaching effects on her family. Along with classmate Lucas, Lou tries to help No build a life away from the streets. However, No’s emotional scars run deep and she pushes Lou’s friendship and trust to the limits. Without revealing the ending, I feel I want to say that I found it sad that No never realized what a huge impact she had on all of the members of Lou’s family, by coming to stay with them. Isn’t it often the case that those who reach out to help are the ones who end up being blessed?

‘A Street Cat Named Bob’ by James Bowen

A Street Cat Named Bobstarstarstarstar

 

Here is a feel-good story that I found in a display of “mood boosting” books at the library. If your mood needs even more encouragement or this is your favourite type of read, there are even people who produce lists for such things, so these should keep you going!

Mood Boosting Books 2013

Mood Boosting Books 2014

Streetcat and Bob‘A Street Cat Named Bob’ is the true story of a cat who saves the life of a homeless drug addict in London, UK. It speaks to the power of pet love and the power of being needed. We all need meaning in our lives and unless we feel connected and useful, it is easy to become discouraged and make poor decisions. Here is a very good short documentary that will not detract from the reading of the book.

When James Bowen was earning his living on the streets and just barely scraping by, he found an injured ginger street cat. Two lost souls found each other and created a partnership that turned both their lives around. What I liked about the book is that it gives a human face to the homeless. These are people with stories and worth. They have fallen on hard times but perhaps a bit of kindness could turn things around and make a difference. I’ve always given to buskers because I appreciate the mood boosting music they provide in a dingy subway tunnel, but now I shall give even more generously and gleefully.

The best part about this heartwarming story is that the animal does not die at the end of the book!  In fact there is a sequel as well with more adventures. I haven’t read it yet, but The World According to Bob has firmly established James Bowen and Bob as celebrities who sign copies together at bookstores! From busking to bookstore attraction! What’s not to love?