I couldn’t help but think The Dead I Know was like a particularly satisfying episode of Six Feet Under — one that takes you through a range of emotions but deposits you, whole and hopeful, by the end. It is my favorite of many excellent books publishing this week. A fast and engaging read, this book is perfect for reluctant readers.
Aaron’s new job as a funeral assistant is the only thing that is going right in his world. His mother is losing touch with reality, his horrifying reoccurring nightmare is slamming him nightly, and he sleepwalks himself into trouble almost every time he does get rest. When his personal life threatens to boil over and cost him everything, he will have to face some hard facts about his past in order to gain any hope for a future. A very fast and compelling read. Aaron’s increasing agitation and confusion don’t cloud the reader’s understanding but create a hypnotic thrum of threat — a nearly imperceptible hum that brings tension to the most mundane of daily tasks. Aaron clearly has a hard life but the book never veers into emotional manipulation. Readers feel empathy and respect for his character but will sense that he doesn’t need or want sympathy. It was haunting in the very best of ways. Well paced and plotted to maximize reader engagement. This book will appeal to both genders, but I see myself handing it off to the guys in my high school class first (it’s hard to find guy reads out there). The spare prose, mood, and ease of reading will be appreciated by reluctant readers. Fans of Lisa McMann will especially enjoy this one, as it pairs suspense and that same harsh reality featured in many of her books. While this book is a YA “psychodrama,” adult readers will enjoy this as well. Language and situations are suitable for mature high school readers.
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.