Through a strange turn of events, teenager Lucas Swain gains possession of an abandoned urn containing the ashes of a Violet Park. While researching Violet, Lucas unknowingly begins to call up his father's mysterious past. Lucas' father disappeared five years ago. No one knows where or why he ran away, or if he ran away at all. Lucas is frozen in time, clutching onto his father's belongings because he doesn't have the memories to sustain him. His research, however, finally allows Lucas an out, as he learns that "dead" doesn't just have to be a physical condition.
Finding Violet Park, by Jenny Valentine, was originally published in London. It was later republished in America as Me, the Missing, and the Dead, which is the title I picked up and, after finishing the book, that I prefer. I don't know if I would have picked up this book if it weren't on The List, but I'm glad I read it. I enjoyed the various perspectives of the missing and the dead. Dead doesn't have to mean "dead" if that person's memory and life remain with you. On the other hand, missing can can equate with dead - Lucas' father is gone and no longer a worthy part of his life. Lucas' actions at the close of the book confirm his feelings on this matter. The newer title creates three categories that, throughout the course of the novel, Lucas realizes can all be intertwined depending on his actions. For five years, he's been missing his life, instead clinging on to what is no longer present. Finding Violet Park is just a small piece of the puzzle that leads him to eventual catharsis.
The novel contains dark humor (for instance, Lucas provides a list of good reasons to make friends with a dead lady in an urn), realistic portrayals of family and extended family, and an interesting mystery to carry forth the discussion of what it means to be dead or missing. It'd be an interesting choice to include in a Halloween display as it's spooky in a nontraditional sense.