Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff
Penguin, 2013. ISBN 9780141344034.
(Age: 12+) Recommended. Mila has a gift. She can read people and rooms like novels, and she can tell if you're upset, or hiding a secret, or if you're pregnant.
When Mila and her father go on a holiday to America to catch up with her father's old friend, Matthew, all seems well. But then Matthew disappears, and suddenly it's up to Mila and her father Gil to help solve the mystery. But soon the real mystery becomes not where Matthew has gone, but why he left in the first place.
Fans of the recent BBC Sherlock series will see something familiar in Mila: a slightly odd, yet incredibly perceptive genius who loves solving mysteries. Yet Picture Me Gone is unique enough - and Mila a strong enough character - that any doubts about the excellence of this short novel will soon be assuaged.
At less than 200 pages, Picture Me Gone is a brief but detailed snapshot into a hectic week of Mila's life. This is a mystery novel, but it is also a novel about friendship, love, secrets, and self-discovery.
Young girls may not be able to relate to the genius and wit of Mila's character, but they will certainly be able to relate to the friendship troubles she experiences with her best friend. It was certainly a good idea of Rosoff to add this small side plot with Mila and her friend, to let some of the younger readers empathise with the main character.
As far as mystery stories go, Picture Me Gone was fair, but not brilliant. There is a great build-up of tension throughout the novel, but the ending (which I won't describe for spoiler's sake) is somewhat of a letdown. And besides, the mystery of this novel is not even as important as Mila's journey of self-discovery, which remains the true focus of this book. And what a wonderful journey it is.
I recommend this book.
Rebecca Adams (Student)