Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Burberry

Renee is a concierge at a high class building, trying to hide her true self from everyone who lives there. Though she may be just a concierge, she is incredibly intelligent, reads massive amounts of books on a wide variety of subjects, but due to an event her past, feels that she should not mingle with the upper class people of the building. So she buts on a front, careful not to let anything slip that would give her away.

Paloma is a 12 yr old girl that lives in the building, the daughter of a wealthy parents who has a secret of her own. She is exceptionally intelligent, a genius in fact. But she also feels that she needs to hide this from everyone, just getting by in school, because if her parents knew how smart she was, they would expect more of her. She dwells on her life and the life of all those around her, and decides she doesn't want to be "stuck in the fishbowl" like everyone else, so she comes up with a plan to set the building on fire and commit suicide on her 13th birthday. While she waits for the day to approach, she keeps a journal of deep thoughts that she has, and decides from things she has experienced whether the human race is worth not taking her life. If there is hope after all.

While both Renee and Paloma already have their careful plans, a new man moves into the building, Kakuro Ozu, and everything they thought was true falls to the side. All 3 become friends, and Ozu, through his actions, shows them both that not everything they think is as it should be or is true.

This book was great, but very hard to read. The intelligence of Renee and Paloma is so great, that most of the time I had no idea what they were even talking about, but the writing was so beautiful and poetic that I couldn't stop reading. I am not saying you won't understand the book. Its just very philosophical, and that kind of thing goes way over my head, but you still know what is going on in the story. It is chock full of beautiful quotes also, and the ending had my eyes filling with tears.

4 stars

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