Reviews - No and Me by Delphine de Vigan - What Momma Left Me by Renee Watson

Tuesday August 17, 2010

Be sure and read the summaries because I often refer to the subject matter in my reviews!

No and Me 
by Delphine de Vigan
August 3, 2010
Goodreads Summary: The international award-winning story of two girls from different backgrounds, united in friendship

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, 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?

Winner of the prestigious Booksellers’ Prize in France, No and Me is a timely and thought-provoking novel about homelessness that has far-reaching appeal

Review: My eighteen-year-old daughter commented to me the other day that homeless people are "so annoying"...I felt utterly exhausted because I've always tried to instill a sense of compassion in my kids. Anyway, after a brief discussion of the multitude of reasons that people are homeless, I hope a left her a little less judgmental of the people in question. I bring this up because a big part of this story is Lou finding out that simply providing a house for No to live in isn't the end to all her problems. Sometimes there is a little bit more to the story...

After No moves in with Lou they are both able to open up about the heartbreaking stories they both have to tell. Throughout it all an unlikely friendship blossoms and under the influence of No's unflinching description of life in the big bad world, Lou expands her views of the world around her. When No's past comes back to haunt her Lou is forced to face the fact that giving No a home and friendship can't fix everything (again, something I also expressed to my daughter).

I really, really, really enjoyed this book. Both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time I felt that story's main theme expresses that people who step up to the plate, no matter what their age, CAN make a difference in someones life. Even if its something small we can still make a change....a tiny ripple in the pond so to speak. Well written and character driven this is a story that will resonate with readers of all ages. Recommended! 

Best suited for ages 14 and up.
What Momma Left Me 
by Renee Watson
July 2010
Goodreads Summary: How is it that unsavory raw ingredients come together to form a delicious cake? What is it about life that when you take all the hard stuff and rough stuff and add in a lot of love, you still just might have a wonderful life? 

For Serenity, these questions rise up early when her father kills her mother, and leaves her and her brother Danny to live with their kind but strict grandparents. Despite the difficulties of a new school, a new church, and a new neighborhood, Serenity gains strength from the family around her, the new friends she finds, and her own careful optimism. Debut author Renée Watson’s talent shines in this powerful and ultimately uplifting novel.

Review:  Tragedy effects different people in different ways...for Serenity the death of her mother and the changes thereafter result in her turning to her family and faith for support. For her brother Danny not so much...acting out and making poor choices is the result.

This book is a beautiful story of a young girl coming to terms with her mothers death and dealing with the resulting changes. Each chapter begins with Serenity's journal writings where she writes about everything from her questioning faith in God, her own poems and the voice of Maya Angelou. As Serenity adjust to her fated circumstances she deals with issues many girls do; crushes, new friends and questions about her future. 

Yes there is a Christian edge to this story but for those of you who usually avoid Christian fiction, please don't disregard this story....the overall theme is about a girl coming to terms with the tragedy in her life (her mothers death isn't all Serenity has to deal with) her faith is simply part of her recovery process.

A simple, heartwarming, well written story of love, loss and healing. Serenity learns to be true to herself and that a complete life consists of both happiness and heartbreak. Don't let the "childish" cover fool you...definitely a middle grade book and older. I loved it and totally recommend!