• Written by Édouard Louis
  • Published in 2017
  • 192 pages
  • Rating: ❤️❤️❤️??

The first half of the story is a deeply negative description of the French working class, which in my eyes was a bit flat. It shows little empathy to describe your youth and a complete group of society in this manner. I felt a deep sense of disrespect for his heritage, family, and the community he grew up in. As said, the first part of the book was a one-sided view of all the negativity associated with growing up in a working-class town in the North of France.

It’s a good thing that Edouard Louis is aware that this negativity clouds his memories (while narrating the story from his adult perspective, he admits that he is not able to recognise all parts and pieces very vividly and that memories lead their own lives in peoples minds), yet he still comes across as a pretty self-obsessed, left-winged, intellectual that feels like he is too good to belong to the working-class community he grew up in. It is this sense of arrogance towards his home that makes me feel disgusted. His feeling of intellectual superiority tends to show a severe lack of empathy. This becomes especially worrisome when you read his manifesto ‘Manifesto for an Intellectual and Political Counteroffensive’ in which he downright calls for the refusal of debate with ideologues of which HE does not recognise the validity. Such a statement can only be written from the comforts of an ivory tower.

To conclude this review, I think that his choice to paint such a dark and gruesome picture of his childhood worked quite well in the second part of the book, as the protagonist started showing struggles to adjust to his environment. In his struggle to blend into the community (and act like a ‘tough guy’), he finally showed some empathy and social behaviour. I think that in this section of the book, the brutal honesty and the one-side perspective from a child worked pretty well to showcase the struggles of a young gay person in a deeply racist/homophobic/right-winged community.

As this is Edouard Louis’ first book, I’m very much looking forward to reading his other works about these topics to find out how his style and agenda developed over time.