This is a sneaky little book. Readers pick it up thinking it’s a “Wimpy Kid” read-alike, and it is… and it isn’t. On p. 13 readers get their first hint that Milo is so much more than a wimp: “What do I miss? I miss laughing…. I miss a dinner table that doesn’t feel lopsided and a kitchen that’s full of her. How do you know that every day is the last chance to fill up on the good stuff; to jam-pack your pockets with a whole life’s worth of everything you’re going to miss forever?” Milo misses his mother and the way his house felt like a home and the people he lives with felt like a family. He remembers those feelings, but they were before “The Fog,” the fuzzy grayness that seems to cloud a whole year of his memories. And oh, how he longs for those feelings again, but they’re getting harder and harder to capture.
Don’t get me wrong. Milo’s story is not sad and depressing. It is humorous, often hilarious, with just the right mix of serious emotion. Milo is a typical early teen: video games, first love (for a girl who doesn’t know he’s alive), food, navigating the rough social waters of middle school, and bottling up deeper emotions take up most of his time. Readers gradually discover why Milo is so annoyed by his math teacher’s head and why his father seems so distant as they learn with Milo that annoying neighbors, regardless of age, can be great friends and memories can bring joy and comfort as well as pain.
I was sure I would see this book on Oklahoma’s Sequoyah Book Award masterlist. It made me sad to learn that Silberberg lives in Canada, making the title ineligible. It would have been a perfect choice.