It's even sadder that there are many aspects to this book that I liked. Let's face it, Meg Rosoff can write. There is a harsh dreaminess to the winter landscape setting. The characters are realistic. I've worked with enough gifted children to see this truth in Mila. The many relationships between parents and children are finely crafted and tangible.
While on the surface there is a mystery to be solved, this is really a coming of age novel. There is a time in childhood when we lose our faith in the infallibility of our parents and adults in general. Eventually their secrets are revealed in all their messiness. This is what happens to Mila.
Sadly, if not for the use of that one word, I would probably get this book for our library.