Book: Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff, Putnam Juvenile, October 2013
Book Info: YA realistic fiction, received for review for Cybils, HC 239 pages.
About the Book: (source: publisher)
Printz Award-winning author Meg Rosoff’s latest novel is a gorgeous and unforgettable page-turner about the relationship between parents and children, love and loss.
Mila has an exceptional talent for reading a room—sensing hidden facts and unspoken emotions from clues that others overlook. So when her father’s best friend, Matthew, goes missing from his upstate New York home, Mila and her beloved father travel from London to find him. She collects information about Matthew from his belongings, from his wife and baby, from the dog he left behind and from the ghosts of his past—slowly piecing together the story everyone else has missed. But just when she’s closest to solving the mystery, a shocking betrayal calls into question her trust in the one person she thought she could read best.
Picture Me Gone is a smart, quiet coming of age about a girl who comes to grips with life’s realities for the first time. Mila is twelve, and an old soul. She can read people like a book, which is part of why she goes along with her dad from London to upstate New York to help find his missing friend, Matthew. She’s good at puzzles and sees things her dad overlooks. Gil and Mila follow the breadcrumbs Matthew left behind to try to bring him back home to his wife, baby son, and beloved dog. The setting is cold and wintery to match the melancholy tone of the book, and through the journey Mila loses some of her innocence when faced with life’s hard truths.
What started out as a trip to visit friends, turned into a mystery and a wild goose chase for Gil and Mila. Mila was excited to see New York and do some sight seeing and souvenir shopping and instead she gets to play amateur detective. It’s a road trip book of sorts, with a fish out of water vibe as Mila and Gil drive the snowy unfamiliar highways, and eat American diner food. America is a wonder at first but exhausting after a while. Everyone comments that they like Mila’s accent, though she thinks the American’s are the ones with the accent.
It’s a pleasure being inside the wise-beyond-her-years Mila’s head. She’s so intuitive it’s like she’s psychic. And ultimately that “power” of hers takes her to some dark places in Picture Me Gone.
Mila is very tight with her adoring parents, and has a good friend at home that likes to drag her along on her spy schemes. In New York, Mila strikes up a new friendship with Jack, the son of an old friend of her father’s, and the two touch base with each other throughout the story.
The mystery is the backdrop to Mila’s personal journey. The mystery isn’t satisfying on its own, but takes Mila to interesting places personally. Mila has a strong voice and is quite clever but is at that in-between age where she’s not always taken seriously. And she’s starting to see the cracks in the surface of those she’s trusted the most, seeing her father especially with new eyes, flaws and all. The father-daughter relationship is satisfying to follow as it evolves throughout the book.
This is the first book I’ve read by Meg Rosoff, though I recently saw the movie version of her book How I Live Now. Rosoff has a wonderful way with words, and doesn’t talk down to her readers. Her Mila is intelligent and insightful and endearing. The story is quiet and introspective but hits you in the gut as well. Also, just a note that Rosoff does not use quotation marks for the dialogue- that choice did not bother me, but it’s something you may want to know going in. I recommend this haunting little book for fans of Rosoff and readers of contemplative books about relationships.
Picture Me Gone is a YA Fiction Cybils nominee.
Congrats to Rabiah who won a copy of Picture Me Gone!