Book Review | So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighborhood by Patrick Modiano

cover so you don't get lost in the neighborhood by patrick modianoFrom the beginning, this book was an inviting read, but was at times difficult to follow chronologically. Protagonist Jean Daragane is a bit of a hermit in his Paris apartment. He is drawn outside by a strange couple who claims false identities when returning his lost address book. Beyond simple pleasantries, the couple shares documents from a former police investigation and asks for Daragane’s assistance in giving additional background information. At first he is unable to recall any relevant details, but upon closer inspection he realizes just how much of his own past seems to be hidden. 

There are many things to appreciate about So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighborhood. The writing style is very straightforward and concise. Images are depicted fairly well and the main points of the novel are clear. With few characters it is easy to keep them straight during this generously spaced quick read of about 150 pages. If you’re looking for a brief escape to Paris, this will do.

Modiano has chosen three distinct time periods in which this novel’s events occur: Daragane as a child, as a man 15-20 years later, and 40 years later believing himself to be a different person. Without any chapter breaks, I found it hard to tell the exact chronology of events. Characters were not well developed and though this was a conscious choice by the author, I have to question whether the book would have been better served with more text. I found the first half of the book much more intriguing than the second half. Check it out from a library near you. If you really enjoy this book, try The Silence of the Wave by Gianrico Carofiglio

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About amy de simone
Amy is an active volunteer, traveler and photographer. She is interested in art, libraries, museums and nonprofits. She holds an M.A. in Library & Information Studies and a B.A. in Italian Language & Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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