Review: Change by Edouard Louis

Edouard Louis, author of the play Who Killed My Father shares with the reader a part of his life story in Change. Not quite a memoir, not quite fiction, it tells the story of a boy growing up in a poor city in France where he is often bullied and ridiculed and accused of being gay--something that is completely socially unacceptable in a rough and tumble town where men are expected to present extreme versions of masculinity. Change begins with a surprising offer to attend a school in a nearby town where he can be a part of the artistic programme. There, he makes friends, including a deep friendship with Elena, but it is also the beginning of an all-consuming desire to change everything about himself, from his name (Eddy to Edouard) to eventually climbing all the way to the top university in France, being the partner of wealthy men and betraying not just his family, but Elena and her mother along the way. 

It is not common for people to change class, or at least not at the extreme level that Louis voluntarily subjected himself too. Parts of the novel aren't pretty, but they offer an excellent insight into human nature and the desire to shake off an unpleasant childhood and the guilt that eventually comes with it, along with the anger at the conditions that his parents were subjected to. I am not sure how much of this book is literal truth and how much is fiction, but it is an interesting account just the same. Parts of this story are also told in Louis' other works, The End of Eddy and Who Killed My Father.

Unusual and insightful. Recommended.


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