Mila, 12, a keen observer of people and events, accompanies her translator father, Gil, on a journey from London to upstate New York in search of Gil’s lifelong friend, who’s disappeared.
Mila applies her puzzle-solving skills to the mystery of why Matthew would abandon his wife and baby, not to mention his dog. On a road trip to Matthew’s cabin in the woods, she mulls over the possibilities while Gil keeps his thoughts to himself. Mila, who finds strength in her multinational pedigree and her ability to read people, is the one who eventually puts the pieces of the story together. Rosoff respects her young character, portraying her as a complete person capable of recognizing that there are things she may not yet know but aware that life is a sometimes-painful sequence of clues to be put together, leading to adulthood. The author skillfully turns to a variety of literary devices to convey this transition: the absence of quotation marks blurs the line between thoughts spoken and unspoken; past, present, and future merge in Mila’s telling just as they do in the lives of the characters as truths come to light and Mila is able to translate Matthew’s darkest secrets.
A brilliant depiction of the complexity of human relationships in a story that’s at once contemplative and suspenseful. (Fiction. 11 & up)