You Deserve Nothing is Alexander Maksik’s first novel and it is set in Paris at an international high school that caters to the sons and daughters of wealthy, influential families. The story focuses on William Silver, a charismatic English teacher who uses unconventional methods to get his students thinking. William — who has left his wife and moved to Paris after both of his parents die unexpectedly — gets tangled up in an illicit sexual relationship with Marie, a student at the school where he teaches. The book explores themes of right and wrong, of teachers and their role in the lives of their students and of relationships and how they evolve.
The book is narrated by William, Marie and another student named Gilad, and often gives different perspectives of the same event by a different narrator.
The novel is very clean and clear in its language, and the subject matter will resonate with many, especially among Vancouverites who many remember a similar situation that occurred in high school here with far reaching effects. Maksik’s Paris is delightful to read — he lives there part-time — and the story is both surprising and inevitable.