The Dead I Know

Paperback | August 7, 2012

byScot Gardner

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You wake in the middle of the night, your arms and feet pinned by strong hands. As you thrash your way to consciousness, a calm voice says, “Steady. We’re here to help.” Your mind registers a paramedic, a policeman, an ambulance. You are lying on the lookout at Keeper’s Point, the lookout Amanda Creen supposedly threw herself off. And you have absolutely no idea how you got there.

Aaron Rowe walks in his sleep. He has dreams he can’t explain and memories he can’t recover. Death doesn’t scare him—his new job with a funeral director may even be his salvation. But if he doesn’t discover the truth about his hidden past soon, he may fall asleep one night and never wake up. A potent, intense psychodrama that will keep you gripped to the very last page.

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From the Publisher

You wake in the middle of the night, your arms and feet pinned by strong hands. As you thrash your way to consciousness, a calm voice says, “Steady. We’re here to help.” Your mind registers a paramedic, a policeman, an ambulance. You are lying on the lookout at Keeper’s Point, the lookout Amanda Creen supposedly threw herself off. And ...

Scot Gardner is a critically acclaimed YA author, whose books have been shortlisted for several awards in his native Australia, including the CBC Awards and the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards for Young Adults. The Dead I Know was published by Allen & Unwin in Australia in 2011; it is the first of his books to be published in Canada. ...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:216 pages, 8.2 × 5.26 × 0.6 inPublished:August 7, 2012Publisher:PRH Canada Young ReadersLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143182129

ISBN - 13:9780143182122

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible Read Five years ago when I read a book I always had a pencil in my hand and made notes and grabbed quotes as I read. As I have been reading more and more electronically, now when I do read a physical book I find I just have lost that habit. But this book was so compelling that I stopped on a number of occasions to write down quotes to share with others. This is the first of Scot Gardner's books to be released in Canada. It was an amazing read. I literally read it in less than 24 hours and could not stop talking about it and think about it for days afterwards. It is an incredible read. Aaron Rowe is a young man who has had trouble fitting in at school. He is now beginning an apprenticeship to work as a funeral director. On one of his first days there is a motorcycle accident and he finds the head some distance from the body and he reflects to himself: "I became aware, as John closed the door, that although we'd been conducting the same search, the policemen and I had been looking for different things and for different reasons. They were hunting for mortal remains to finish a job. I was hunting the still countenance of someone's son, perhaps their brother, maybe even their father, to bring him a final grace. By giving him grace, I found some of my own. The police protected the living, ambulance officers protected the injured and we protected the dead. All as it should be." He likes his new work and seems to have a natural knack for it. But Aaron is suffering from nightmares and sleep walking and both are getting progressively worse. As they are getting worse, so is his mother; she is slipping into dementia and Aaron does not want to lose her and her presence in his life. He thinks to himself: "With that fragment of conversation, I knew the scales had tipped. Mam had gone and probably wouldn't find her way back Perhaps she'd gone home? She'd done her work. She'd schooled me in life the way an institution never could. She'd made me think long and hard about everything and anything, answered every question I'd ever asked and many that I hadn't. She'd fed me, washed me and clothed me until I could do it for myself. Until I could do it for her. She'd grown old and now she was growing young again, all innocence and hugs. It seemed to have happened so fast, but if I stopped to think about it there had been years of incremental decline, faithfully denied by us both until- paf, like a blown globe - she'd finally let go. Until that moment, when I'd let go too." Again, later in the book, he reflects on the turmoil in his life and nightmares and the peace of his new work. "The smell of air-freshener flowers had become linked in my mind to the cool stillness of death, and death was my new best friend - someone I'd only just met but felt I'd known forever." And so begins the tale of Aaron. The characters in this story are amazing - Aaron, his new boss John, and John's very precocious daughter Skye. Between their interactions with the living and the dead it makes for a wonderful tale. In the last 5 years I have read 800 books and this is the number 2 fiction book in that time. (The first being I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga.) It was so good that I bought and read the only ebook available in North America by Scot Gardner the day after I finished this book. On a side note, I lent this book to my mother- in-law after reading it. She works in the funeral industry and she could not put it down and also read it in one day. I cannot think of higher recommendations than the two of us, so different but both unable to stop reading. So pick it up and give it a try. The Dead I Know just might surprise you in more ways than one.
Date published: 2012-09-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Dark and Beautiful Story This novel's intriguing premise gave me an idea of what I would find in its pages, yet I never though I'd find such unique story with so much emotional weight. The Dead I Know by Scot Gardner is definitely a poignant story that delivers a heartbreaking amount of sadness as well as a touching amount of hope and goodness. The story starts with Aaron applying for a job as a funeral director. There, he meets his boss John, who plays an important emotional support in Aaron's life. However, Aaron is a very disturbed kid. He keeps almost all of his thoughts to himself, which makes him very lonely. In fact, the only person in his life is Mam, who at the beginning of the story we could guess is his mom since they live together at the caravan park. But unfortunately, Mam has a mental condition that makes Aaron's life emotionally very exhausting. If there was no one to remember us or to care for us, then we are as well as dead. Aaron struggles with this issue every day of his life and Mam is the only person anchoring him to his life, but unfortunately her dementia keeps Aaron on the edge and afraid to loose everyone in his life. Yet, for Aaron, Mam is reason enough to wake up every morning and go to work. Unfortunately, Aaron also struggles with poor living conditions, PTSD, severe sleepwalking and disturbing nightmares that have a strong hold on Aaron's life. Aaron is a very special and unique character that I grew to love, care and sympathize with him over the course of the story. I haven't read such a lonely character in a while, and it's extremely touching to see the world through his eyes. He is under a lot of stress, specially because of Mam's condition. Yet, his new job and the new people around him, comes like a balm into his life. John is such a strong pillar on this novel. I love the paternal figure John displays and how understanding and kind he is to Aaron. No need to mention that John has made from his particular career (funeral director) a highly admirable way of life. The Dead I Know is a touching story where people deal with death in different ways -or in the best way they can. Scot Gardner has certainly written a dark (even creepy) yet beautiful novel that I will always remember and keep in a special spot of my heart. Highly recommended!
Date published: 2012-08-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Well-written suspense with great characters I went into this book expecting it to be one kind of book, but ended up finding something far different – and something far better, in my opinion. The description on the back flap led me to believe that this was a story about a sleepwalker, when in fact, Aaron is much more than you are led to believe. Newly finished school, Aaron has taken on a job with John Barton to become a funeral director’s assistant. To both of their surprise, Aaron takes to the job well, finding solace in the routines and dignity surrounding the preparation of the dead for their final goodbye. This isn’t to say that he is numb to the issues surrounding death and loss. Instead, Aaron’s initial hesitations and misgivings are presented in an authentic way, and the transition from unease to acceptance is real and logical to the flow of the story. Life hasn’t been easy for Aaron, and he has built huge walls to keep people away. He's quiet and withdrawn, and he lives in a trailer park with Mam; their relationship is complicated, and it is heartbreaking to see her decline despite Aaron’s attempts to care for her. Aaron also suffers from vivid dreams that lead to sleepwalking episodes, often placing him in situations that are unfamiliar or dangerous. As he continues to work at the funeral home, the lives of the newly dead begin to invade his dreams. While the back of the book would lead you to believe that this is the crux of the story, to me the sleepwalking was merely another symbol of the unraveling of Aaron’s very complicated story. As the story progresses, Aaron’s attempts to continue to compartmentalized his life begin to falter, especially as he slowly becomes part of the Barton family. When the true history of Aaron’s past is revealed, it is made more devastating by the contrast to his current existence. The mystery of Aaron’s past is an important part of the story, but it isn’t everything about the story if that makes sense. I found myself as absorbed by how Aaron survived each day and his few relationships as much as I was by the mystery of his past, and I think that’s a good sign. By the time the mystery was revealed, I was invested enough in Aaron to want to find out what had happened, and how things might be resolved for him. I liked watching him slowly come out of his shell and develop connections as much as I liked the explanation behind the sleepwalking episodes. For those who might expect more action and a faster pace to the story – well, you’ll be disappointed. This arc builds slowly, and resolves itself gracefully. Just enjoy the ride. Scot Gardner has written an absorbing story that draws you in slowly but holds you there once captured. His attention to detail when writing about life as a funeral director is done with sensitivity; he uses such skill that the macabre nature is left behind as you find yourself drawn into the nature of the job. It helps that Gardner has not allowed John Barton, Aaron’s boss and surrogate father, to be that classic stereotype of a slightly creepy or sinister funeral director. Instead, he is portrayed as a man who loves his family and is good at his job, even if it is perhaps a more unconventional choice. In fact most of the characters were well drawn and vivid. One side note: Scot Gardner writes his books based in Australia, and while you could definitely hear the Aussie tone in the book, it was also not so strong that those unfamiliar with the culture would be lost.
Date published: 2012-08-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Review from Esther's Ever After The Dead I Know is one of those books where it's nearly impossible to have an idea of what to expect without having read the book - it's mysterious, and not entirely clear where the story is going at first. And while it isn't one that instantly made me fall in love, it did have its own charm that won me over in the end. A gritty yet hopeful story mixed with a fresh outlook on issues surrounding death make for a enjoyable read. Reasons to Read: 1.A story with guts: I loved that Scot Garnder wasn't afraid or hesitant to tackle some heavy issues with The Dead I Know. It took me a little while to really get into the flow of the story, but once I did I found myself questioning some of the same issues which Aaron struggled with regarding death and grief. These aren't easy issues to bring up, and I appreciated that they were handled carefully yet still remained poignant. I loved that this was a story with maturity, rather than just fluff. 2.A mystery that isn't overbearing: I'm such a sucker for any sort of mystery plotline, but I liked that the one in The Dead I Know wasn't a typical whodunnit plot (although I enjoy those, too). In fact, it took me a little while to really figure out what the actual mystery was, and why it was so important to figure out what had happened. 3.But there's still something heartwarming: But what I really loved about this story is that amidst all the ugliness, there's still optimism and hope. For every bad thing that happens, and every bad person, there's something (or someone) good to balance it out. I loved seeing all these kind and generous characters help out in their own little ways - it's something so reminiscent of real life, and it just made my heart glow to read about it. That being said, I did feel a bit like the pacing was off for most of the story. It was a fairly slow book in terms of pace, and it isn't until the very end that things finally come together and you realize how important the build up was. I also had a hard time relating to Aaron at times, because he felt so cold and distand and extremely mature for his age. It could be hard to pin down his character at times, but I think that was a crucial part of the story and of his development. I do have to say though that I was so pleased with how unique this book felt; not entirely gritty, but a bit dark in its own way. Just enough to create its own bit of charm and stand on its own two feet as a fairly different type of YA book. ARC received from Penguin Canada for blog tour; no other compensation was received.
Date published: 2012-08-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Honest and compelling If there's one thing The Dead I Know did well, it's that it convinced me that I never want to be a sleepwalker. It would be terrifying to wake up every morning, unsure of where you are and how you got there. And who knows who would take advantage of you when you're like that *shivers* Sleepwalking aside, however, there are a lot of reasons to read Scott Gardner's The Dead I Know. In a short period of time the reader watches Aaron Rowe's life completely fall apart in front of him and it is a heart breaking but authentic read. I'm personally amazed by how long he managed to keep it together. He's alone, no friends, living in sketchy caravan park surrounded by criminals and drug users and if that wasn't bad enough he's a sleepwalker trying to take care of an old woman suffering from dementia. I for one, wouldn't have blamed this poor kid if he had broken down much earlier than he did. The Dead I Know tackles a lot of important, but difficult, issues, but it does so with care and respect. In addition to being an emotional read, The Dead I Know was an interesting look into the life of a funeral director. When Aaron goes to work for the funeral home, I was surprised by how much detail the reader was given. You are exposed to everything, from body pickup, to preparing their hair and clothes, to the building of the casket and finally the funeral itself. It's not always easy to read about, especially if you've lost someone close to you. But as with all the issues in this book, Scott Gardner tackles death honestly. It may not be easy to read about, but it is authentic. Ultimately, however, I wasn't 100% sure what point the novel was trying to make - if any. Could have been something about the kindness of strangers, or learning to trust others. Or even realizing you're not alone and that no one is an island. These were all potential messages, but they didn't immediately jump out at me. I had to spend some time after I had finished reading, brainstorming on the message of this book and wondering what I was supposed to get out of it. And though it is not usual for me or other readers to spend time dwelling on a book's message after we're done reading, I think the point of The Dead I Know may be lost on a lot of teen readers. Overall The Dead I Know was a really interesting and fascinating read but it just felt like it was missing something. I can't quite figure out what it was but it left me feeling like my experience with the novel was incomplete. Final recommendation: A good book for those who have had trouble asking for help, especially when faced with a sick parent/loved one. You are not alone. This and other reviews at Hooked on Books (http://christashookedonbooks.blogspot.com)
Date published: 2012-08-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Moonlight Gleam's Bookshelf (Review): The Dead I Know by Scot Gardner What would you do if you had recurring, bone-chilling nightmares that you couldn’t explain? Or memories of your past that are hidden deep within your subconscious and that you couldn’t recover? Your sleepwalking is spiraling out of control. Then there’s your drug-addicted neighbor that threatens to harm you, and a grandmother that is beginning to lose all her senses. What would you do? These are the questions that Aaron Rowe must answer, however, he must do it all on his own. His past is a blur and nothing seems to make any sense except for one thing, death… Although The Dead I Know is a short and easy read, there is a great amount of depth that lies underneath the surface of the story. There is mystery surrounding Aaron’s past and present at the beginning of the novel, but as the story progresses and the character’s background unravels, readers will desperately crave for more. My favorite element of The Dead I Know is the author’s writing style. Scot Gardner keeps everything simple and very engaging throughout the novel. The plot was compelling, and had my full attention right from the very first page. The characters were relatable and I also appreciated that they all played an important role in Aaron’s story including the secondary characters that appeared in very few scenes. I also enjoyed Aaron’s back-story as well as his recurring nightmares that would give me goose bumps. As the story progressed, I sympathized with Aaron. There was so much that he had to deal with and he had to handle it all on his own. Scot Gardner should be commended for taking such a dark subject and creating a brilliant read. The author keeps his readers in suspense and only reveals the answers near the end. The Dead I Know is an emotional and heavy read that I would highly recommend to those who enjoy Young Adult Fiction with a large dose of dark humor. Must Read! Highly Recommended!
Date published: 2012-08-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Inspiring Read 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. For more reviews and an interview with this amazing author, check out www.lostinthelibrary.com
Date published: 2012-08-04

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Editorial Reviews

"I have never read a book more gripping, nor a book more triumphantly alive. I love how it haunts me still. I swear, I will never forget The Dead I Know." - John Marsden, author of the internationally bestselling Tomorrow series