Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff, reviewed by Frank Cottrell Boyce, who spots a “thumping great error” but admires the depiction of the relationship between father and daughter. And Boyce contrasts this book with Rosoff’s nuclear bomb novel How I live Now. “Here, Rosoff has done that virtuoso thing, written a gripping book in which – spoiler alert – very little happens.”
This is a story about the wide, fragile web of friendships and acquaintances that sustains us – a fascinating theme for a generation whose Facebook groups can seem more immediate than their own flesh and blood. Every child is Don Quixote. From the child in the back garden commentating on their own football skills, to the pre-teen gang members imagining themselves as gangsters, stories are the frequency over which we signal to the world. Like The Member of the Wedding or The Greengage Summer, Picture Me Gone charts the tiny shifts in allegiance and unexpected situations through which the heroine discovers that the stories she lives by will not be enough for the pitiless, messy, adult world. In this finely tuned minimalist work, every detail counts. It is, therefore, a bit rubbish of Penguin to release the book with a thumping great error at its heart. Gil is a translator specialising in Portuguese, but his spoken Portuguese is poor – he gets his own daughter’s gender wrong, for instance. I kept expecting this to pay off and for Gil to be exposed as a fraud. It obscured one of the most attractive and refreshing aspects of the book: the warm, loving relationship between father and daughter.