I read this about ten years ago, when I asked friends to recommend the best books they'd read. It is the story of a young arab boy who was abandoned by his whore mother at his Jewish babysitter's, a retired prostitute herself who now cares for others' children, while they work or while they are on the run from the child welfare workers or in jail. The young protagonist is always told by the adults around him: " you have your whole life ahead of you" as if that is a wonderful thing. He looks at the old blind man who teaches him arab ways, the housebound old woman who cares for him, the transexual prostitute who lives next door... all the adults around him from whom life has stolen happiness, joy and health, and he considers the saying to be more a curse than a blessing. This book is a wonderful slice of life in the harder parts of post-war Paris, where he grows up, and discovers he does want to live life after all. Beautiful, haunting, and peopled with unforgettable characters. I highly recommend it.