One day an illiterate Algerian immigrant in Lyon gave his son, Azouz Begag, a book, saying, "This book is a bird." How Begag took flight on the wings of learning is one of the stories that unfolds in this captivating autobiographical novel of growing up amid the multicultural complexities of contemporary France. Determined to leave behind the poverty of his shantytown life, Begag works to become a star pupil at the local primary school-earning the jealousy and rejection of his Arab playmates even as he contends with the anti-Arab racism of his French peers. Begag's moving and often comical account of negotiating a path between the competing cultural spaces encountered during his childhood is a compelling tale of coming of age in a world of ethnic and racial tensions. A story for all ages, it is also very much of the moment, offering unique insights into the reweaving of the social fabric of France in response to growing ethnic diversity.