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Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff

What would Mila reveal about you?

Interests/Topics: family, friendship, mystery, linguistics, death, grief, codes, spies

Curriculum Connections: English

Gender: F/M

Age: 14+

Blurb: I loved hanging out in my bedroom when I was a teenager. I suppose it looked like most teenage girls’ rooms at the time: walls covered in posters of my favorite bands and Teen Bop boys, a chair bearing the weight of a week’s worth of clothes, and mixed tapes, make up, jewelry, and perfume littering every available flat surface. The best part about my room though was that it was all mine. I didn’t have to share it with anyone, and I didn’t have to leave it if I wasn’t in the mood.

To a casual observer, my bedroom said a lot about me: musical taste, fashion sense, make up preference. To someone like Mila, in Picture Me Gone, it revealed my secrets. She would know upon entering that Stephen King’s book It scared me nearly to death (I couldn’t sleep with it face up on my nightstand), that I wore my Liz Claiborne perfume more often than the others (the majority of my clothes had the lingering scent), and that I lacked any natural athletic ability (absence of trophies, ribbons, accolades). On closer inspection, she’d realize that the black cat liked me more than the white one (darn cat fur) and that I wasn’t always faithful about removing my mascara before bed (the black smudge on my pillow).

Mila can “read” people and rooms by noticing clues that other people miss. So when her dad’s best friend Matthew disappears suddenly, she travels to the States to see if she can help find him. Matthew has left behind his wife, his baby, and his beloved dog, but no one, including Mila’s own father, seems too worried.  What secrets will his house reveal, and what obvious clue does Mila neglect to notice?

Flavour: “Like my namesake, Mila the dog, I have a keen awareness of where I am and what I’m doing at all times. I am not given to dreaminess, have something of a terrier’s determination. If there is something to notice, I will notice it first. I am good at solving puzzles.” (3)

“As we walk through the house, I collect images like a camera clicking away. I can barely remember what Matthew looks like and there are no pictures of him to remind me. No picture of him and Suzanne on their wedding day or him with Gabriel. Or just him. Click. Other details leap out at me: A pair of muddy shoes. A stack of bills. A cracked window. A closed door. A pile of clothes. A skateboard. A dog. Click click click. First impressions? This is not a happy house.” (18)

“What I feel in this house is containment. Suzanne containing her things so they don’t touch his. Even the baby doesn’t seem to cross over, his toys and clothes and equipment all tidy and stacked up on her plane. And she hates his dog.” (28)

“I send another text from under the covers. Matthew where are you? I don’t expect an answer so am not surprised when one doesn’t come. Sometime later, the bleep of the phone wakes me from a deep sleep. I’m nowhere says the message. It’s from Matthew.” (104)

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