Review: Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff

Picture Me Gone coverVerdict:
Title: Picture Me Gone
Author: Meg Rosoff
Publish Date: 5 September 2013
Publisher: Puffin
Pages: 208
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mystery, Real Life
Source: Spinebreakers (finished copy)

Picture Me Gone is extremely original in one specific way: the writing style. I have never read a book by Meg Rosoff before (although, I am now dying to read 2004′s How I Live Now before it hits cinemas) so I am not sure if this is the usual method of writing which Rosoff deploys. Although I’m more or less 95% positive that it is unique compared to her other novels because it seems that protagonist Mila is a reincarnation of a dog. I have come to this conclusion because Mila tends to divert down subjects quickly, have an almost sixth sense to the emotions of others and the first sentence reads: “The first Mila was a dog,” suggesting she is said dog in question.

At first I was severely worried about this unique way of writing as it seemed the novel was for younger readers around the 12-14 age bracket. But as the story continued on, the language grew in poetic beauty and it dealt with teenage themes.

Mila raised ideas that I am sure most of us have pondered over in the past and it is good to witness these on the page as we feel comforted to know we are not the only ones who think up these insignificant details. For example, her father Gil works as a translator and one of his friends Nicholas grew up in a household where his parents spoke different languages. Mila explains: “When I ask him which language he thinks in, he says, Depends what I’m thinking about. The idea of having no native language worries me. Would you feel like a nomad inside your own head? I can’t imagine having no words that are home. A language orphan.”

It was these observations and clever imaginative phrasings like “A language orphan” which caused me to stop and re-read the paragraph. The uses of words, to put it bluntly, were exquisite.

Despite the plot lacking in an all going out adventure, the simplicity of the story was wiser than what I primarily expected. Mila and her father Gil travel to the USA to hunt down Gil’s friend Matthew who has vanished off the face of the Earth. Not a lot happens during their quest meaning that what is most thought provoking is how we delve into Mila’s mind and her perceptions on the missing Matthew.

Mila is an inquisitive child at a mere twelve years old who is the star of the book. Rosoff’s choice of not including quotation marks when characters speak means that everything said can’t be taken as reliable as they have been filtered through Mila’s head. At times she would conflict with her own opinions and wishes: “…perhaps, when I say I long to be a pane of glass, I am lying. I long for partial obscurity at the same time as I long for someone to know me.” Again, this highly intelligent crafted language shares with us that Mila is only human. She is unable to understand herself how she wants to be interpreted by other people.

The more I read Picture Me Gone, the more I was impressed with the novel. It is an ideal length at a short 195 pages so for a time you can escape into the world of Mel and learn more about yourself along the way. Although, I hope connecting with this book doesn’t mean you are a reincarnation of a hound.


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