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Book Review: Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff

Londoner Mila is a twelve year old only child of older parents. Her father, Gil, is a translator of ancient texts and reads and writes in multiple languages. Her mother is a talented musician. Mila herself, at 12, is no less exceptional in her ability to observe both people and situations and reach accurate conclusions. As an only child, and very bright, Mila is introspective, and most of the novel is told as internal monologue.

Mila and her father are traveling on her school break to visit his oldest friend in America, Matthew, who has recently gone missing. Matthew’s wife, Suzanne, is considerably younger than Gil and Matthew, and welcomes the visit even though her husband has disappeared, in the hopes that Gil and Mila will be able to find some trace of him. She is also busy with their toddler son.

As Mila and Gil arrive in America and begin looking for Matthew, one secret after another is revealed. Matthew has a lot to hide. Gil seems oblivious to the reality of the situation, while Mila is absorbed with her own thoughts and trying to read between the lines and follow the thoughts and motivations of others involved in Matthew’s life. Mila is also concerned with the plight of her best friend Cat, whose parents are on the brink of divorce, who is in contact regularly through text message.

Rosoff is a gifted writer with a talent for making characters come to life through the lens of her unusual narrator. This book is no less brilliant than the ones that have come before it. Unsurprisingly, Picture Me Gone was just named to the National Book Awards Longlist for Young People’s Literature. I am glad it was, both because it deserved to be and because the more people who hear about this novel the better. It has, in my opinion, a very limited audience, but it will resonate with those young teens who, like Mila, are intelligent and introspective.

Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff (ISBN 9780399257650) will be available from Putnam Juvenile on October 3, 2013.