“This book contains two Japanophiles, one sarcastic French tween, and zero actual hedgehogs. It’s exactly the sort of warm, funny cosmopolitan novel I pore through the back gondolas of used bookstores looking for. The tension between Paloma and her wealthy parents, and the secret Renee the building concierge is hiding, are as relevant to today’s class struggles as when the book was written. Suicide is a tragedy; the silver lining is that we have literature to help us cope.”
— Holly Doering, Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane, WA
Rene Michel is the 54-year-old concierge of a luxury Paris apartment building. Her exterior (short, ugly, and plump) and demeanor (poor, discreet, and insignificant) belie her keen, questing mind and profound erudition. Paloma Josse is a 12-year-old genius who behaves as everyone expects her to behave: a mediocre pre-teen high on adolescent subculture, a good but not outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter. She plans to kill herself on the sixteenth of June, her thirteenth birthday.