Picture me gone by Meg Rosof

cover image

Penguin, 2013. ISBN 9780141344034.
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended. Mila goes with her father Gil, searching for his best friend, Matthew, whom he hasn't seen for years and who has disappeared. Together they travel to Matthew's remote cabin, with observant Mila taking note of small details and thinking through some of the anomalies of Matthew's disappearance. How can someone leave their wife, small son and sad dog without a word and why has he disappeared?
This is a clever and intelligent expose of the way that adults keep secrets from their children and from each other and how children have the ability to unravel what is going on. Mila is intrigued with the puzzle of Matthew's life and gradually comes to understand his motives and his guilt. Watchful for what is happening around her, she learns about sorrow and depression, about neglected children and ways of coping. She also learns about trust and betrayal.
This is not a typical book for adolescents. There are no vampires or angels here, but a strong family relationship between Mila and her parents that contrasts with the disintegration that Matthew's actions cause for his family. It looks squarely at marital infidelity, single parent family and depression that might cause suicide. Told through the eyes of a twelve year old, step by step old secrets are revealed and the conclusion is ambiguous. Truly adults do not have all the answers and parents keep secrets from their children.
This beautifully written and intelligent book from an award winning author will appeal to thoughtful, mature readers. A second reading would be fruitful.
Pat Pledger