If you're interested, you can read the details about the challenge here.
For my first country/book, I chose France as one of the countries with the most immigrants. Simple (Marie-Aude Murail) is a young adult book about a seventeen-year-old who takes care of his mentally challenged older brother.
There's unrequited love, lust (lots of it), bad romantic poetry, too many essays, and plenty of crisps. But the seventeen-year-old boy in this story has something extra to contend with. His older brother has learning difficulties and is languishing in a care home. Listening to his heart rather than his head, the boy knows he must get his brother, nicknamed Simple, out. But as their father is entirely preoccupied with his new wife, it's up to the boy to liberate Simple, and that means finding somewhere for them to live in the city. Funny, thought-provoking and clever, this French bestseller won the Prix SNCF du Livre de Jeunesse and was dramatised for French television; in Germany it won the prestigious Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis.
I wouldn't say Simple has the potential to cross over into the adult sphere and attract older readers, but I think it has the potential to teach us a lot about 'foreigness' or being 'alien'. I think in this respect, it was the perfect book to read under the immigrant topic. Because in the end, as the story unfolded, it became quite obvious that the weirdest things or people are not necessarily the least 'normal'. Simple, as simple as he was, taught each and everyone of the roommates a lesson or two. And the tale was a lovely mixture of bitter and sweet moments that gave a great insight into Simple's brother, his caretaker, and the conflicts raging in his teenage mind. This was a very fulfilling read.