SummaryWhen Aaron gets a job at a funeral home, he surprisingly takes to it. But there are dark secrets hidden in Aaron’s subconscious.
He experiences dangerous bouts of sleepwalking and recurring dreams he can’t explain: a lifeless hand, a lipsticked mouth, a man,
a gun... Can he piece the clues together and ﬁgure out the truth of his past?
I’m not sure where to begin. Wow. Just wow. This book evoked such emotion in me. The writing is dark, raw and powerful and I was completely transported into the life of this boy named Aaron. As much as this book is about “the dead”, and his job at the funeral home, the story really touches on humanity, and those who seemingly come in to our lives right when we need them, even if we don’t recognize it at the time. The relationship between Mr. Barton (Aaron’s boss) and Aaron was a wonder to watch unfold. This man’s faith in a boy he barely knew, his belief in Aaron’s potential was inspiring. If only everyone could have a Mr. Barton in their lives.
I wrote down a few stand out quotes from the book. Scot Gardner has a way with words and they seem to speak the truth of the moment. These two quotes really stood out for me:
pg. 94 “Hold on, don’t skip all the good bits, I thought. Don’t dream me a life without the romance. Let me do the colouring in myself”
pg. 171 “When somebody reaches out the way Skye had, I’ll have the guts to take their hand and my world will be a different place I know it”
While reading the The Dead I Know, I was reminded of how I felt reading Perks of a Being a Wallflower. It makes me feel blessed to be a reader, when I have the opportunity to escape inside a book like this; a book that I feel has changed my views about myself, the world and my place in it. Highly recommended.
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I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to ask Scot a few questions:
First Scot , I have to say that I was completely and utterly blown away by the Dead I Know. What a powerful book. I only hope my review and these questions even come close to doing it justice.
Thanks Jen, glad you enjoyed it.
1. I have to ask about your inspiration for the book-What inspired you? Did Aaron’s character come to you first or the story?
I’ve had an unusual relationship with death. My godparents are funeral directors in Victoria, Australia and as kids we were never sheltered from the realities of the business of death. Having said that, the character of Aaron was alive and well in my head before I’d connected him to the setting of a funeral home. He was inspired by a kid I knew who’d lost everything and everyone from his life due to war in Africa. His resilience haunts me still.
2. Mam’s character hit close to home for me as I have a grandmother with Alzheimer’s, she too was a brilliant woman; Have you had anyone in your life with Dementia?
My wife’s mum suffered Alzheimer’s. She lived with us for two years before she needed more care than we could provide. As a storyteller, watching her in decline made me realise that story is everything. Stories are what hold our fragile inner worlds together and if you take the stories away—like Dementia does—people become photocopies of themselves. There was some grace in my mother-in-law’s decline, too—she loved without complication, without expectation, without the hurt she’d hung on to all her life. And there were some funny things, too—she tried to open a can of beetroot with an axe because she couldn’t find a can opener. She lives on in the character of Mam.
3. Mr. Barton was my favourite character (aside from Aaron of course) His patience, understanding, and support makes him the ultimate hero in my eyes. A mentor and father figure many would love to have. Did you have someone in your life that stood by you no matter what?
John Barton is a synthesis of a number of good men in my life. My godfather, Kevin the funeral director, is a kind and loving man who epitomises grace under pressure and has stuck his neck out for me time and again. My dad, Jim, is compassionate and forthright and has loved me and stood by me through the rough and tumble of a creative life. My first boss, Stewie, is in there, too. Gruff and practical when he needed to be, he shared everything he knew about life in three-second bites of conversation. As a young bloke, that was gold for me.
4. Themes of perseverance, courage, the simple act of holding on and reaching out when things seem at their bleakest sang out to me, is there any “one” thing you hope readers will take with them after reading your book?
If I had a catchphrase I’d engrave on a pen to imbue itself into everything I write, it would distil to a single word. Hope.
Thank you so much for your time, and for writing this amazing novel.
Pleasure is mine. Thanks for your insightful questions.
About Scot Gardner:
Scot Gardner has written several critically acclaimed novels for young adults. His debut novel, One Dead Seagull, was followed by White Ute Dreaming, a powerful story of first love, mates, and a yellow dog. His third novel, Burning Eddy, was shortlisted for the CBC Award and the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for Young Adults. Gravity was also shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award in 2007. The Dead I Know was published by Allen & Unwin in Australia in 2011; it is the first Scot Gardner novel to be published in Canada.
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