I was a little apprehensive when I picked up 13, rue Thérèse by Elena Mauli Shapiro, due to the unique presentation of the book itself. Images of scanned photos, letters, and other ephemera are interspersed with the text, and on the last pages, there were special barcodes for use with a smartphone, which made me a bit wary. However, I decided to let it go and just take the book for what it was, and I’m glad I did.
The book is strange and unique and yet, it’s also interesting and exciting. We briefly learn about a collection of items left for American professor Trevor Stratton, who has just arrived in Paris to translate French poetry. As the book progresses, he gets drawn into this story and people behind this “documentation,” as he calls the items, and you feel yourself drawn in as well.
The story jumps between the Trevor’s perspective and that of Louise Brunet, the woman who owned the items Trevor is examining. The line between their worlds blurs more and more, and it helped to suspend disbelief, especially towards the end.
I will say that I was a little disappointed with the ending, especially after the build-up along the way. It just didn’t feel like the resolution was as weighty as the story that got you there. That said, I really enjoyed the book, as it kept me wondering what piece of the puzzle might be revealed next.