Book Review: Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff

Mila has a special talent for reading people–and a room.  She has the ability to figure out things that might be hidden from other people using clues that so many people ignore.  When her father’s best friend, Matthew, goes missing–leaving behind his wife, infant son, and beloved dog–she and her father travel to America to search for him.  As Mila unravels the mystery of Matthew’s disappearance, she starts to realize that there are things she can’t know because she’s not old enough–and that the person she thought she knew completely might have secrets of his own.

Meg Rosoff’s excellent, thoughtful novel manages to be both contemplative and undeniably suspenseful.  Her keen knack for writing makes her characters come alive on the page, and her care for them shines through.  A knockout of a novel, this has crossover appeal for adults as well as teens.

Mila is a brilliant child, but Rosoff isn’t afraid to make her a child.  She treats Mila with care and respect, allowing her to be perceptive, insightful, and also appropriately naive at times.  Mila is a well-wrought character with a fully-realized personality.  Her relationship with her father is well-rendered, too.

There’s a lot simmering beneath the surface of this one, and Rosoff allows the story’s central mystery to illustrate the growth that Mila herself is undergoing, even if she is not aware of it.  There’s a lot here about how painful it is to grow up and start becoming an adult, and it’s reflected in the sparse, beautiful writing.

The mystery will keep readers turning the pages, because it’s suspenseful and a little haunting.  It’s also quiet, thoughtful, and brilliant.  Highly recommended.

Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff. Putnam Juvenile: 2013. Copy accepted via publisher for the 2013 Cybils.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff

  1. I loved this book, but I have a hard time convincing kids at my book shop to give it a try. Mila’s character is quite young, but since most other characters are adults there seems to be some reluctance to believe that they’ll relate to the story. Rosoff writes so truthfully about young people, as you said, and I like the fact that she takes teenagers seriously. So I keep recommending it despite resistance.

    Have you read How I Live Now? I like that one even more than Picture Me Gone, though the writing was better here.

    You’re right about the crossover appeal: several parents I know read this after their teens and found it extremely moving.

    • Clementine Bojangles says:

      I can definitely see where there might be appeal issues. I think it’s one of those books that takes a harder sell, but if a reader gives it a chance, it’s likely they’ll love it. Doubly so if they are already a fan of Meg Rosoff.

      Yes, I loved How I Live Now. I just watched the movie, too–have you seen it? It was a very respectful adaptation of the book.

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