Book Review: Picture Me Gone, Meg Rosoff (2013)

February 26th, 2014 4:34 pm by Kelly Garbato

Not all that’s lost is meant to be found…

four out of five stars

Just days before Mila and her father are to travel from London to visit him, Gil’s childhood friend Matthew goes missing from his home in upstate New York. He leaves behind a wife, Suzanne; a new baby, Gabriel; a faithful old dog, Honey – and countless secrets, just waiting to be uncovered.

Named after her grandfather’s terrier, Mila is a bit of a hound herself. Whereas Gil’s talents lie in translating words from one language to another – and her mother Marieka’s, translating feelings into music – Mila is able to read the subtleties of a person, room, or situation and assemble these puzzle pieces into a coherent picture. She’s a sort of mentalist, or a tween Sherlock, if you will; the antithesis to her father’s bumbling academic. Mila peers into souls.

When Matthew disappears, she and Gil set off to New York as planned, with the goal of reuniting Matthew with his family – or at least finding out what became of him. Mila discovers more than she bargained for, including one of her own father’s lies, as well as a sudden and unexpected desire to be treated like the child that she is for a change.

The synopsis of Picture Me Gone reads rather like a mystery, but really it’s more of a story about family: the relationships between parents and children (and mothers and fathers), navigating loss and grief, growing old(er) and reconciling what might have been with what was. In the friendships between Caitlin and Mila (the “Cat” to Mila’s dog) and Matthew and Gil, we witness the corrosive effects that jealousy, coupled with the passage of time, can have on our bonds with others.

This is my first Rosoff novel, and already I’m in love with her writing style: lyrical and expressive, with a plot that unfolds at a leisurely pace. Mila in particular is a pleasure; smart and insightful, but also appropriately vulnerable and childlike at times. The present-day search for Matthew is interspersed with anecdotes about her friendship with Cat; these scenes help remind the reader that, as mature as she might seem, Mila is still a kid. (Though I have to admit that I imagined her in the 15- to 16-year-old range; only when I went back to verify her age for this review did I realize that she’s only twelve! It’s a difficult sell, but Rosoff pulls it off.) Her “fish out of water,” English Terrier in New York observations – such as her horror at American gun culture and awestruck reaction to our giant, “exotic” grocery stores – are especially enjoyable; Rosoff is a Bostonian transplant to London, thus giving her unique dual perspectives. (As smart as she is, it’s a wonder that Mila hasn’t made the connection and adopted a plant-based diet already.)

I also fell in love with Honey, who was unfairly blamed and maligned for events well beyond her control. Rosoff wrote her with compassion and humor and, of the many people who Matthew left discarded by the roadside in his travels, I felt the worst for her. When Matthew walked out on them, Gabriel still had his mother Suzanne (and Jake, Lynda); but Matthew was the one person in the world who truly loved Honey. No dog left behind, yo. (And, despite Gil’s protestations, there’s no such thing as “just” a dog.)

The ending is rather anti-climactic, but blessedly so: anything else wouldn’t feel true to the story.

First line: “The first Mila was a dog.”

Favorite line: “If I had a tail I’d wag it too.” (page 204)

Hit-you-right-in-the-feels line: “She doesn’t need much exercise, Gil says, and I think how strange it is that at nearly the same age, she’s old and I’m young.” (pp. 97-98)

Basically the cats and dogs are my favorite part of the story. Surprise surprise!

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

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One Response to “Book Review: Picture Me Gone, Meg Rosoff (2013)”

  1. Book Review: She Is Not Invisible, Marcus Sedgwick (2014) » V for Vegan: easyVegan.info Says:

    […] In this way, She Is Not Invisible reminds me of another missing persons mystery, Meg Rosoff’s Picture Me Gone. I enjoyed them both immensely, though for different […]

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