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La Petite
     

La Petite

5.0 4
by Michele Halberstadt
 

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In La Petite, the renowned French writer and film producer Michèle Halberstadt vividly recounts the painful events that surrounded the death of her beloved grandfather, which led to a suicide attempt when she was twelve years old. Michèle’s mother favored her older sister, her father was emotionally remote, her teachers dismissive, and

Overview

In La Petite, the renowned French writer and film producer Michèle Halberstadt vividly recounts the painful events that surrounded the death of her beloved grandfather, which led to a suicide attempt when she was twelve years old. Michèle’s mother favored her older sister, her father was emotionally remote, her teachers dismissive, and her peers a foreign species. Her grandfather alone had given her an image of herself that she could embrace. After he died, there seemed to be nothing left for her. One day she decided that she’d had enough of life. The pills in the bathroom were within reach and the temptation of falling asleep forever was irresistible.
La Petite is neither grim nor sentimental. Halberstadt, the recipient of both the Legion d’Honneur and the Ordre du Mérite, France’s two most prestigious awards, has perfectly captured the emotions of the little girl she once was. Everywoman will recognize something of herself in this moving story about adolescent grief, solitude, and awakening.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[A] touching glimpse of a young life nearly lost and then redeemed…[A] brief but powerful memoir…A haunting story with a triumphant conclusion.” –Kirkus

“It’s blunt, poignant, and exactly what adults should read in a time when adolescent’s and teen’s voices need to be heard. It doesn’t matter that [Halberstadt's] story is based in her childhood, or that she’s French. This is a story that many people can relate to, and her problems then are just as relevant now.” –Examiner

"This is a big little book that illustrates, elegantly, the preciousness of life and emotions without once falling into greeting-card territory." –Library Journal

Kirkus Reviews
Touching glimpse of a young life nearly lost and then redeemed. In this brief but powerful memoir, film producer and novelist Halberstadt (The Pianist in the Dark, 2011) examines the day, at the age of 12, when she attempted suicide. The book opens with that fateful morning, as the young Parisian girl takes all the pills she can find in the cupboard, then goes to school, waiting to die. The bulk of the narrative explores the incidents leading up to her decision, while the ending relates events in the hours and days after she awoke in the hospital, her plan having only barely gone awry. Halberstadt's story is a gripping work of psychological introspection, following the traumas and travails of a girl too ordinary to be noticed, yet too brilliant to fully accept that anonymity. As she saw herself, the author was the plain-looking, boring daughter of a good but distant father and thoroughly strict mother. She paled in comparison to her older, beautiful, charming, talented sister, who lorded that superiority over her. Only one person, her grandfather, cared about and understood her. When he died, all she wanted to do was join him. Distant and uncaring, her family tolerated her at best, verbally abused her at worst, until she felt the best thing she could do for everyone involved was to go away. After her suicide attempt failed, however, Halberstadt experienced a sudden rebirth, deciding to live and flourish. The author tells her story passionately, often in short, chopped sentences that underscore the import and weight of her preteen thoughts. She is matter-of-fact rather than melodramatic, giving the readers a sense of the resignation and alienation she felt as a girl. A haunting story with a triumphant conclusion.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590515310
Publisher:
Other Press, LLC
Publication date:
07/10/2012
Pages:
128
Product dimensions:
4.90(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.60(d)

Read an Excerpt

In his bedroom was a low chest with five drawers, and the bottom one was reserved for me. I could arrive unexpectedly, yet find a surprise hidden there every time. A gift, a handkerchief, a lollipop, it didn’t matter. That was a promise he’d made me and he never once broke it. That permanently restocked drawer represented the infallible proof of his love for me. He did not treat me like a granddaughter, like a little girl. He considered me a person with whom to share and exchange things to read, points of view, essential discoveries.
   For example, when I was six, one day when the two of us were having lunch in his kitchen, he placed before me a white plate bearing a regal chèvre cendré. He knew that I hated cheese in general and this kind in particular, because to me goat cheese tasted like soap, but he was immensely fond of chèvre cendré, therefore it was impossible that his granddaughter should not share this predilection. So he uncorked a bottle of Bordeaux, placed a bit of chèvre on a small piece of still warm toast lightly spread with salted butter, and explained to me precisely how the flavor of the cheese would be accentuated by the wine’s acidity. His blue-footed wineglass clinked mine to celebrate my first tasting as a connoisseur, in the certainty that from then on, just as we shared a straight nose, drooping eyelids, and the inveterate habit of constantly humming, his favorite cheese would also be mine.
   He was facetious, imperious. He understood everything and I could tell him frightening secrets he would never have thought to make fun of. He was not judgmental, never reproving, and aside from lapses in good manners, about which he was intransigent, he was quick to forgive. Mockery was his usual tack, repartee his besetting sin, generosity his Achilles’ heel. His humor made the world cozier, his tenderness cushioned my days. Nothing could ever happen to me as long as he was there, and I had never envisaged a life without him as its center.

Meet the Author

Michèle Halberstadt is a journalist, author, and producer of such films as Mr. Ibrahim, Farewell My Concubine, and Murderous Maids, which she also cowrote. Her previous novels include The Pianist in the Dark, which won the Drouot Literary Prize and was short-listed for the Lilas literary prize in France.
 
Linda Coverdale has translated more than sixty books. A Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, she has won the 2004 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the 2006 Scott Moncrieff Prize, and the 1997 and 2008 French-American Foundation Translation Prize. She was a finalist for the 2008 French-American Foundation Translation Prize for Life Laid Bare (Other Press, 2007).

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La Petite 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We have to save rp cuz its the last good thing left, and its the only fun thing on nook. Signed Moonstar Oakpaw Deathfang Eclipsekit Gingersun Sky Scratch
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I rp lots.. too many to count. Nothing is wrong... we r just bored and need to occupy our time. We want others to talk to ij the dark of the night. We want advice. We... so many reasons. If u take away rps b&n... i will not visit the nook store until i have memorized all of the books on my nook. So... yaddawho!! *signs his john handcock on the petition*