I finished reading Finding Violet Park a couple of days ago and I am still thinking about it, which is always a good sign because my memory isn't as reliable as it is used to be.
I think the cover is brilliant and when I first got the book, I thought someone had actually doodled all over it. I remember thinking I liked it and at the same time wondered how could they sell such a book, even if it is second hand, until I read the blurb. Silly me.
I knew the book as Me, the Missing and the Dead (but I must confess I like the title Finding Violet Park better) as it was released in America, which is a title that doesn't give anything away. It's a title I was familiar with since 2010, when I had read Broken Soup (Jenny Valentine's second book), having noticed it in Pantaloons (when it still housed books) perhaps because it stood out due to its unusual cover.
After reading Broken Soup, I came to know that her first book won the Guardian children's fiction prize and wanted to read it (the stunning cover was the actual reason). Then university happened and I forgot all about it. Recently I saw it on a used book site (thank you Bookchor) and it all came back to me. Jenny Valentine felt like a nom de plume to me but it is indeed her real name (she married her Valentine).
It is odd coming back to an author whose work I had read when I wasn't as much of a cynic and sullied by the world as I'm now. While reading I felt as if I was reconciling the present and past versions of me, which is weird because it is the first time I am reading this book but my mind associates Finding Violet Park with an earlier time, a pre-university era.
I read a major chunk of the book while awaiting my turn in a long line (which twisted and turned in ways unimaginable) of people waiting for registration at a hospital. And if my nose wasn't buried in the book, the two hour wait in the line moving slower than a snail, which ultimately turned out to be for nothing, would have been maddening. If there is anything I have learnt all these years, it is this - Never leave the house without a book.
The book deals with how Lucas, a 16 year old and his family - mother, sister, brother and grandparents, cope after his father goes missing (read ghosting in real life). It's a book where death has a strong presence since the other lead character Violet Park, is in a urn, as in already dead. Their paths crisscross and what happens then forms the rest of the narrative.