Me: Lucas Swain—I'm nearly sixteen years old and live in London. I was fairly normal until the night I found Violet. Then everything changed.
The missing: Dad. He disappeared five years ago. Nobody knows what happened to him, and nobody cares except me. It's enough to drive you crazy.
The dead: That's Violet . . . in the urn. Speaking of crazy—I know she's trying to tell me something, and I think it's about my father. . . .
I may have met Violet after she died. But it didn't stop me from getting to know her. . . .
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.60(d)|
|Age Range:||14 Years|
About the Author
Jenny Valentine worked in a food shop for fifteen years, where she met many extraordinary people and sold more organic bread than there are words in her first book. She studied English literature at Goldsmith's College, which almost made her stop reading but not quite. Her debut novel, Me, the Missing, and the Dead, won the prestigious Guardian Children's Fiction Prize in the UK under the title Finding Violet Park. Jenny is married to a singer/songwriter and has two children. She lives in Hay on Wye, England.
Read an Excerpt
Me, the Missing, and the Dead
The minicab office was up a cobbled alley with little flat houses on either side. That's where I first met Violet Park, what was left of her. There was a healing center next door—a pretty upscale name for a place with a battered brown door and no proper door handle and stuck-on wooden numbers in the shape of clowns. The 3 of number 13 was a w stuck on sideways. I thought it was kind of sad and I liked it at the same time.
I never normally take cabs, but it was five o'clock in the morning and I was too tired to walk anywhere and I'd just found a tenner in my coat pocket. I went in for a lift home and strolled right into the weirdest encounter of my life.
It turns out the ten pounds wasn't mine at all. My sister, Mercy, had borrowed my coat the night before—without asking—even though boys' clothes don't suit her and it was at least two sizes too big. She was livid with me about the money. I said maybe she should consider it rent and wouldn't the world be a better place if people stopped taking things that didn't belong to them?
It's funny when you start thinking about pivotal moments in your life like this, chance happenings that end up meaning everything. Sometimes, when I'm deciding which route to take to, say, the cinema in Camden, I get this feeling like maybe if I choose the wrong route, bad stuff will happen to me. This sort of thinking can make decisions really, really difficult because I'm always wondering what happens to all the choices we decide not to make. Like Mum says, as soon as she married Dad she realized she'd done the wrong thing. As she was walkingback down the aisle, she could practically see her single self through the arch of the church door dancing around in the sunlight, without a care in the world, and she could have spat. I like to picture Mum, in a fancy white dress with big sticky hair, hanging on to Dad's arm and thinking about spitting on the church carpet. It always makes me smile.
Whatever. Mercy decided to borrow my coat and she forgot to decide to remove the money. I decided to spend the whole night with my friend Ed in his posh mum's house (Miss Denmark 1979 with elocution lessons) and then I made the choice to take a cab.
It was dark in the alley, blue-black with a sheen of orange from the street lamps on the high street, almost dawn and sort of timeless. My shoes made such a ringing noise on the cobbles, I started to imagine I was back in time, in some Victorian red-light district. The minicab office was modern and pretty ugly. One of the three strip lights on the ceiling was blinking on and off, but the other two were working perfectly. Their over-brightness hurt my eyes and made everyone look sort of gray and pouchy and ill. There were no other customers, just bored, sleepy drivers waiting for the next fare, chain-smoking or reading three-day-old papers. There was a framed map of Cyprus on one wall and one of those heaters that they reckon are portable with a great big bottle you have to fit in the back. We had one like that in the hostel when we went on a school trip to the Brecon Beacons last year. Those things are not portable.
The dispatcher was in this little booth up a few stairs with a window looking down on the rest of them. You could tell he was the boss of the place. He had a cigar in his mouth, and the smoke was going in his eyes so he had to squint. The cigar was bouncing up and down as he talked, and you could see he thought he was Tony Soprano or someone.
Everybody looked straight at me when I walked in because I was the something happening in their boring night shift. Suddenly I felt very light-headed and my insides were going hot and cold, hot and cold. I'm tall for my age, but everyone staring up at me from their chairs made me feel like some kind of weird giant. The only person not staring at me was Tony Soprano, so I focused on him and I smiled so they'd all see I was friendly and hadn't come in for trouble. He was chomping on that cigar, working it around with his teeth and puffing away on it so hard his little booth was filling up with smoke. I thought that if I stood there long enough he might disappear from view like an accidental magic trick. The smoke forced its way through the cracks and joints of his mezzanine control tower. It was making me queasy, so I searched around, still smiling, for something else to look at.
That's when I first saw Violet. I say "Violet" but that's stretching it because I didn't even know her name then and what I actually saw was an urn with her inside it.
The urn was the only thing in that place worth looking at. Maybe it was because I'd been up all night, maybe I needed to latch on to something in there to stop myself from passing out, I don't know—I found an urn. Halfway up a wood-paneled wall there was a shelf with some magazines and a cup and saucer on it, the sort you find in church halls and hospitals. Next to them was this urn that at the time I didn't realize was an urn. It looked like some kind of trophy or maybe full of cookies or something. It was wooden, grainy, and had a rich gloss that caught the light and threw it back at me. I was staring at it, trying to figure out what it was exactly. I didn't notice that anyone was talking to me until I caught the smell of cigar really strongly and realized that the fat dispatcher had opened his door because banging on his window hadn't got my attention.Me, the Missing, and the Dead. Copyright © by Jenny Valentine. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Lucas is still coming to terms with his father's disappearance despite the many years that have passed. If only he knew what really happened. Was he hurt, was he abducted by aliens, was he in jail and couldn't get to a phone? Lucas tries to make excuses for his father, but the truth of the matter is he doesn't know what happened.
Stopping for a cab early one morning, he is drawn to an urn that is residing in the cab office. Who knows exactly why Lucas was drawn to the urn, but sometimes we feel connections that can't be ignored. Once Lucas has the urn in his possession, he learns that the woman inside was named Violet. Lucas feels that Violet is communicating with him in some way. And she ultimately helps Lucas tie up the loose ends of his life that happen to be very closely intertwined to hers.
I wasn't sure what to expect from ME, THE MISSING, AND THE DEAD, but I did end up enjoying the book more than I initially thought I would! Lucas's character is humorous and real. It is easy to relate to him and how is feeling. I knew exactly what it was like not to know your father. Valentine's writing was refreshing and satisfying. The plot wasn't too heavy, but it also wasn't just fluff; it was a nice balance of meaning and discovery. The only complaint I have is that the beginning was a little slow, but once the story picked up, I couldn't stop turning the pages.
I enjoyed this book and I would love to read more by Ms. Valentine.
Takes FOREVER to get going and even then its still is boring, so save your'e self the time and money, DON'T buy it.
Me, the Missing, and the Dead was a cute and funny tale of a teenaged boy who, in his soul-search for his absentee father accidentally stumbles upon an urn with the ashes of a mysterious old lady. He is haunted by the old lady and begins to delve into her past. In doing so, he finds out more about himself, his family, and his missing family. Valentine did an excellent job of mixing an emotionally charged story with teen humor and a hint of the supernatural. I loved it, and definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys books about teenaged angst, or who just likes a good laugh.