Saturday, July 9, 2011

Review: You Deserve Nothing - Alexander Maksik

Title:  You Deserve Nothing

Author: Alexander Maksik

Pages:  320

I Why Read This Book:  My daughter read this first. She found an ARC in the patients library at University of Iowa Hospital. She loved it and as it turned out the author is an instructor at Iowa Writer’s Workshop, a program we are both in awe of.

RATING: 4.5/5

Synopsis From Goodreads:
Set in an international high school in Paris, YOU DESERVE NOTHING is told in three voices: that of Will, a charismatic young teacher who brings ideas alive in the classroom in a way that profoundly affects his students; Gilad, one of Will's students who has grown up behind compound walls in places like Dakar and Dubai, and for whom Paris and Will's senior seminar are the first heady tastes of freedom; and Marie, the beautiful, vulnerable senior with whom, unbeknowst to Gilad, Will is having an illicit affair. Utterly compelling, brilliantly written, YOU DESERVE NOTHING is a captivating tale about teachers and students, of moral uncertainties and the coming of adulthood. It heralds the arrival of a brilliant new voice in fiction.
My Review:

I didn’t have any preconceived  notions about this book going into it. I’d read the synopsis and heard what my daughter had had to say about it. And we differed on our ultimate impression of the book - mostly over the importance of the character Gilad.  I actually liked it more than I thought I would in some ways yet less in others. 

 The writing was amazing. Tight, the flow seamless. It caught my attention on the first page. It appealed to the perceived ‘unique’ in all of us. Brought out those feelings that so many people have but everyone thinks they are the only ones. That relateability becomes like a secret club of relief and Maksik included me in that club in many of his characters!!
 I didn’t expect the, how shall I say, descriptive sex scenes. (hence the 4.5 rather than 5 stars) And I think I didn’t because I had a hard time finding a genre where I felt this story fit. Literary is where I’d end up with it. But so much of it could have leaned to the Young Adult. The writing was reminiscent of John Green. The subject matter was more mature and despite being set in a high school, had a much more college air to it. Then again…. It is set in Europe which may be the point. 
There were predictable elements to this tryst story (you can’t really call it a love story) but sometimes life is predictable when it comes to these matters isn’t it? How many time have we seen a friend enter into a relationship and known it wasn’t going to go well, or been jealously happy for them because we knew it was a great match. So the fault doesn’t lay with the story, but with the Maksik’s story is a great reflection of life and how it happens. For better or worse. 
I hope You Deserve Nothing has great success upon it’s release because it certainly deserves it. The characters are wonderful, I haven’t even touched on the fact that it’s not just Europe but PARIS for pete’s sake! This is going to be one NOT TO MISS! Watch for it. Get it. Read it! You won’t be sorry!

1 comment:

  1. Just finished "you deserve nothing" and am in awe. The voices were so authentic. Maksik writes like women feel and that is a feat in itself- and he writes the way men feel too, I imagine. I read the book in a weekend
    living the detail and the inspirational aspect of the teaching profession.