You Deserve Nothing

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

If I had one word to describe You Deserve Nothing it would be juicy. Set in modern day Paris this novel is split into three inter-changing narratives that weave together to tell a scandalous story. Gilad, Will and Marie see each other every day at Paris' international school. Full of rich kids and towering town houses, it's all rather cute and of course crushes and kisses are involved and nightclubs and dancing. Except for one thing which throws a Parisian spanner into the works. Gilad and Marie are students. Will is their teacher. The boundaries between youth and maturity are so blurred in this novel that it is easy to be convinced that Marie is old enough to love a man like Will. Only she isn't, she's barely seventeen and in love with her teacher. He's 38 and by law he is abusing his student. Juicy right? It doesn't need to be said that Will is a liberal teacher but the way in which he engages his English class in such philosophical debates is something to be admired even if his character is a registering on the desperate Lothario scale.

I really got into this story and loved how vibrant the different voices were. I'm not even going to discuss whether or not this story is true (speculation has been seeping in through the internet that the author was made to leave a Parisian school after having an illicit affair with a student). Does it really matter if it is true? It is being published as fiction and so it should be read as fiction surely? The title may allude to Alexander Maksik's own self-doubts, does he think that he deserves nothing? Or is he saying that the fictional portrayal of Marie deserves nothing? Moral issues do arise as he is making money from the affair that was clearly immoral. However no official word has been said from the author's publishers so we can only do what everyone else is doing and speculate. I must say, if I'd written and book and everyone was convinced it was real, I'd be pretty chuffed that I'd done such a good job!

This book sweeps you up with its gathering sense of liberation and revolution. Teenagers gathering in Paris to protest the invasion on Iraq is just one among many moments in the book when you feel part of something greater. This book, although scandalous is inspiring, and true story or not it is definitely worth your time. 


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