Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Me, the Missing, and the Dead

Me, the Missing, and the Dead

Jenny Valentine
For ages 14 and up
HarperCollins, 2008   ISBN: 978-0060850685

One night Lucas is on his way home, when he finds some money in the pocket of his jacket. The money belongs to his sister, but Lucas decides to use it anyway to get a taxicab home. In the taxicab office, he sees an odd looking container sitting on a shelf, and he finds out that what he is looking at is an urn containing the cremated remains of an old lady.

Lucas cannot help wondering about the lady in the urn. Who was she, and how did her urn end up in a smoke filled taxicab office? Without fully understanding why, Lucas decides to find out who the lady was. Back at the taxicab office, he finds out that the lady was called Violet Park, and she died in 2002. 2002 was a big year for Lucas and his family because it was the year when Lucas’ father disappeared. One day he was there, and the next he wasn’t. He left behind Lucas, his daughter, and his pregnant wife, and to this day, none of them know where Lucas’ father is.

For some reason, Violet in the urn is communicating with Lucas. She’s not talking to him exactly, but he does sense that he needs to do something for her. Apparently, even the dead have needs. So, with his grandmother’s help, Lucas rescues Violet from the taxicab office. Then he finds out that she was a famous pianist, who lived in a house in his neighborhood. Then he finds out that Violet was friends with his dad. Why? Why was his father spending time with the elderly pianist? Is Violet trying to tell Lucas where his dad is?

This is an astonishingly powerful book with a startling and disturbing ending. Readers will feel Lucas’ pain as he finally comes to terms with his father’s abandonment, and his own inability to let go of his unfaithful memories. They will see how Lucas is finally able to see his family members as they really are, and to accept that the life he has now is not all that bad after all.