Me, the Missing, and the Dead, by Jenny Valentine
I must admit, Jenny Valentine pretty much had me at the dedication:
For Alex and his Tardis heart
Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww. I say again, awwwwwwwwwwwwww.
The title, Me, the Missing and the Dead*, refers to:
Almost 16-year-old Lucas Swain, our narrator.
Lucas' father, Pete, who went missing five years ago.
Violet Park, who resides in a funerary urn.
This is actually one of those books where it'd be better to know as little as possible going in. It explores the differences between our memories of people who are gone and the reality of what life with them was really like. (I swear I'm not being lazy here—I was just very happy that I didn't read much about it ahead of time, so I figured I'd do you all that favor.)
I believed in Lucas' voice immediately, and loved it just as immediately. Some examples:
On his sister:
She's about at the peak of a sarcastic phase that's lasted maybe six years already.
On a double date:
Ed had already told me what he thought I needed to know, which was that the girls were called Natalie (blonde) and Martha (brown), and they were both seventeen. The blonde one, Natalie, was on the gym team and had her belly button pierced and was Ed's, so I was not to try to impress her in any way. I could have Martha apparently, who Ed hadn't bothered to learn anything about.
On his little brother:
Jed's not good with elevators. He always stops like a rabbit in headlights when he's supposed to get in one, because he thinks the doors are going to close on him. Because he stops and takes that little bit longer to get it, they usually do.
Lucas' voice makes the book a pleasure to read, as does the storyline, which follows Lucas as he comes to terms with his father's disappearance and investigates the mystery behind his own strange connection with Violet Park. The periphery characters are very much that—this is Lucas' story—but they make the most of their appearances and never feel two-dimensional. I found it a really satisfying read.
I read this one before we left for the Midwest, and it has stuck with me—stayed on past all of the books I've read over the last couple of weeks. I'd especially recommend it to those who enjoyed Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
*Finding Violet Park in the UK.