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How to Behave in a Crowd

A Novel
Narrated by: Adam Alexi-Malle
Length: 9 hrs and 5 mins
Categories: Fiction, Contemporary
4.5 out of 5 stars (20 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A witty, heartfelt novel that brilliantly evokes the confusions of adolescence and marks the arrival of an extraordinary young talent. 

Isidore Mazal is 11 years old, the youngest of six siblings living in a small French town. He doesn't quite fit in. Berenice, Aurore, and Leonard are on track to have doctorates by age 24. Jeremie performs with a symphony, and Simone, older than Isidore by 18 months, expects a great career as a novelist - she's already put Isidore to work on her biography. The only time they leave their rooms is to gather on the old, stained couch and dissect prime-time television dramas in light of Aristotle's Poetics

Isidore has never skipped a grade or written a dissertation. But he notices things the others don't, and asks questions they fear to ask. So when tragedy strikes the Mazal family, Isidore is the only one to recognize how everyone is struggling with their grief, and perhaps the only one who can help them - if he doesn't run away from home first. 

Isidore's unstinting empathy, combined with his simmering anger, makes for a complex character study, in which the elegiac and comedic build toward a heartbreaking conclusion. With How to Behave in a Crowd, Camille Bordas immerses listeners in the interior life of a boy puzzled by adulthood and beginning to realize that the adults around him are just as lost. 

©2017 Camille Bordas (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"An utterly charming book - moving, witty, funny, and especially wonderful for the mature kind-heartedness of its view of humanity. Camille Bordas is an invaluable new voice." (George Saunders)
"Camille Bordas is completely brilliant. Soon she will lay waste to the sad landscape of American letters." (Jesse Ball)

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Charming and Moving

In general, I'm not especially drawn to precocious adolescent narrators. I was therefore surprised by how much I loved this book. It is smart, insightful, and utterly charming. There are truly hilarious lines and scenes, even in the midst of sadness and loss. Bordas is a superb writer, who avoids sentimentality and cliche with the skill of a magician. I came to care deeply about these characters and this family. Although the setting is vastly different, it reminded me at times of I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, mainly in its ability to charm. This is Bordas's first novel in English, and her voice and point of view are original and distinctive. I believe the book received good reviews, but it strikes me as being vastly under-appreciated. Highly recommended!