How to Behave in a Crowd: A Novel
Camille Bordas’ darkly comedic novel offers a unique perspective on loneliness and grief. In How to Behave in a Crowd, eleven-year-old Isidore Mazal is the youngest of six in an unusual French family with a deep academic obsession. When the Mazal family experiences an unexpected loss, Isidore and his siblings must work through their sadness; however, each one does so in a removed, isolated way. Berenice, Aurore, and Leonard thrust themselves into their intense dissertation work. Jeremie focuses intently on playing and composing symphonies and Simone has her sights set on becoming a famous novelist. As the heart of the family and the only one with a deep understanding of people, Isidore longs for connection with others but struggles to fit in both at home and at school. With his unbound curiosity, Isidore seeks to make sense of the world around him.
Isidore’s coming-of-age narration is captivating. His search for identity and belonging is hopeful as well as heartbreaking. Bordas masterfully sprinkles humor over the sad and intense moments in the novel, particularly in her rich, naturally flowing dialogue that makes up a large portion of the book. How to Behave in a Crowd will appeal to any reader who enjoys all the complex dynamics of a quirky, dysfunctional family.
Tim Duggan Books