A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Picture Me Gone will encourage readers to think critically as they -- like observant Mila -- try to put together the pieces of the mysterious disappearance of her father's best friend. Readers will learn something about what it's like to be a translator like Mila's dad. They also may enjoy discussing some of the questions in our Explore, Discuss, Enjoy section.
There's an overall message running through Picture Me Gone about loving the family and friends in your life even when they're going through difficult times and making choices you don't support.
Positive Role Models
Mila's an observant person who tries to protect those she cares about. Her family -- which includes her mother, a professional musician, and her father, a translator -- is described as happy and healthy. Even when Mila is sad to be apart from her mother, she knows, "We are three. Even when we are just two, we are three."
Violence & Scariness
A teen boy dies in a car accident, and later his father considers suicide.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There's a mention of a commercial featuring a topless woman; Mila realizes that an adult had an affair resulting in a baby; Mila suspects a man's wife is involved with another man.
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Some words like "bitch" and "damn," and one instance of "f--k."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Mila wonders if her father's friend is an alcoholic and notices that he's drinking most of the time. Her father also drinks but responsibly. A waitress Mila suspects is pregnant smokes a cigarette.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Picture Me Gone features some mature material, including the death of a young teen in a car accident, a man with a secret family, a bisexual woman with a girlfriend, and a man who's contemplating suicide. Some adult characters drink, smoke, swear, and talk about very adult topics, even when the main character, 12-year-old Mila, or another child is around. Still, the message running through the book is about loving the family and friends in your life, including when they're going through difficult times and making choices you don't support. Mila's an observant person who tries to protect those she cares about. Her family, which includes her professional musician mother and translator father, is described as happy and healthy: When Mila's sad to be apart from her mother, she knows, "We are three. Even when we are just two, we are three."
Is It Any Good?
The heart of the plot of PICTURE ME GONE is pretty adult; in fact, the book's set more in the the world of adults than that of children. Even so, there are so many rich and wonderful details here that make it a good choice for sophisticated teens. For example, Mila's dad is a translator who says that, to do his job, "It is not necessary to sympathize with the writer, to agree with what he's written...it is necessary to walk alongside and stay in step." This parallels his ability to stand by his friend, even when he doesn't understand his hurtful actions.
The mystery around the missing man's story will keep readers engaged, but it's really Mila, her neat family, and the keen observations about people and life gleaned by the girl who's "good at solving puzzles" that make up the most memorable pieces.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.