Picture Me Gone

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Title: Picture Me Gone
Author: Meg Rosoff
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publication Date: October 3, 2013
Pages: 256
Genre: Contemporary
Source: School Library Journal Summer Virtual Conference
Rating: 3/5

Mila has an exceptional talent for reading a room—sensing hidden facts and unspoken emotions from clues that others overlook. So when her father’s best friend, Matthew, goes missing from his upstate New York home, Mila and her beloved father travel from London to find him. She collects information about Matthew from his belongings, from his wife and baby, from the dog he left behind and from the ghosts of his past—slowly piecing together the story everyone else has missed. But just when she’s closest to solving the mystery, a shocking betrayal calls into question her trust in the one person she thought she could read best.

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Sadly, Meg Rosoff is proving to be another one-hit-wonder author for me. I loved How I Live Now so much that it’s impossible for me not to compare her other books to it, and so far, nothing has measured up. Just in Case was okay, but Picture Me Gone was just plain weird.

Maybe I wasn’t in the mood for it or something, but I felt like I didn’t get Meg Rosoff’s 2013 release. I felt it was very slow and kind of just meandered around with no real plot or point. The writing was good, I guess, but the story and characters didn’t really do anything for me. I’m also not a fan of this new trend in YA of including illustrations or photos. I felt the images in the book didn’t add anything new to the story and didn’t need to be there.

For one thing, it took me forever to figure out that Mila was only twelve. She came off sounding about fifty years old to me, though of course there were some “adult things” she didn’t understand. I know she was played up as being really precocious and insightful, but the fact that she was twelve made me not really believe it. I think Mila’s talents and maturity could have been expressed in a way more appropriate to her age, but as it is, the novel makes her sound beyond a young adult.

I also found myself uninterested in the plot. I kept waiting for something to happen, but not much did. I felt awkward reading about another family’s problems for some reason, even though they were fictional, because I felt like Mila and her father were looking into things they shouldn’t necessarily be looking into. I wanted more about Mila, who ended up seeming like a vehicle to tell someone else’s story more than like her own character.

The one thing that kept this book from being a two heart read for me was the interaction near the end of the book between Mila and Matthew when she realizes he was planning on killing himself. It intrigued me that Mila could see this though she’d just met Matthew while Gil, her father and Matthew’s best friend, could not. Reading how she processed that realization was one of the books more powerful moments, so I was at least somewhat glad I’d decided to stick with it.

All in all though, Picture Me Gone was another Rosoff novel that failed to live up to the emotional depth and pure amazingness of How I Live Now.

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