I fell in love with Mila in the first sentence. In a world where characters frequently moan about everything, it is very refreshing to find a girl who actively likes having been named for a dog. A dead dog.
As with all Meg Rosoff’s stories, you simply can’t guess where you are heading, except to America, in this instance. Picture Me Gone is much softer than Meg’s earlier books. Despite her outspoken-ness Mila is quieter than both Daisy and Justin, and certainly if you compare her to God.
My first thought was that this isn’t a children’s book. My second thought was that this is precisely the kind of stupid comment adults make over the top of younger heads.
In fact, it’s the kind of thought that 12-year-old Mila herself might have had. She’s much older than most of the adults around her think. Her parents know differently and – mostly – treat Mila as a mature being.
She’s going to New York with her father Gil for Easter, to make it easier for her Swedish mother Marieka to go off and play the violin in Holland. They are visiting Gil’s best friend Matthew, but a few days before the trip Matthew disappears. They go anyway, with the intention to search for him.
Matthew has the most loveable dog! And Mila adores his toddler son, while not really liking the deserted wife much. Before long Gil and Mila set off on An American Road Trip, which is intertaining in its own right, as well as – possibly – bringing them closer to solving the Matthew Mystery.
What makes Picture Me Gone such a very special read is the low key trip itself, and how Mila looks at the world. The Matthew Mystery is almost not important. It’s more about who they meet and what they see, and how they themselves develop.
The ending had to happen. Let’s just leave it at that.
In fact, that’s why this is not purely an adult novel. Read it and love it.