Join us

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Newsletter

Minneapolis Star Tribune: “The work is a testament to Gavalda’s fine storytelling skills, which remain true even in the books’ translation into English.”

Date: Aug 23 2015

The story begins as Billie, the novel’s narrator and namesake, lies injured near the bottom of a rocky ravine in France’s Cevennes National Park. Beside her is Franck, a fellow misfit and her best friend, who is delirious with pain after their tumble. It is, of course, entirely Billie’s fault that they are in this fine mess.

Since being cast together in a high school play a decade or so earlier, Billie and Franck have come to depend on each other as a matter of life and death.

Billie was a beaten-down girl from an impoverished family; Franck was secretly gay and weighed down by a judgmental father with high expectations. Theirs is a story of unconditional love and a deep, platonic friendship, which unfolds in a series of flashbacks as Billie talks out loud to her “little star” to calm her nerves as night descends on the park.

French author Anna Gavalda lays out the pair’s backstory in Billie’s overtly casual voice, which feels as if you are reading the meandering jabber of a blog post. With an abundance of ellipses flitting across the pages and prose that is punctuated by slang and frequent f-bombs, readers longing for more straightforward storytelling can be forgiven for finding this free-form writing tedious.

But by then you will have bonded with Billie and Franck and their flawed humanity, and you will want to know two things: how the youthful pair arrived at the bottom of that ravine, and more important, whether they will find their way out alive. The work is a testament to Gavalda’s fine storytelling skills, which remain true even in the books’ translation into English.