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The Dead I Know

3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  839 Ratings  ·  183 Reviews
Aaron Rowe walks in his sleep and haunted by 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. In this dark and witty psychological drama about survival, Aaron finds that ...more
Paperback, 216 pages
Published May 1st 2011 by Allen & Unwin
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Tara It will depend on your maturity level (i wouldn't have read this when i was 11) Some readers may find it quite confronting due to themes such as…moreIt will depend on your maturity level (i wouldn't have read this when i was 11) Some readers may find it quite confronting due to themes such as death, mental illness, dementia etc.
One of my friends found this very it difficult to read.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dec 27, 2014 Dodie rated it really liked it
First of all, the cover pictured here is MUCH better than the one on the ARC, which shows a well-dressed young man relaxing on a coffin top holding a single red flower - which almost implies a romance within, which there isn't...

This is a dark and humorous story about a young man, disturbed by incidents from his past, ignoring the problems of his present - sleepwalking, insomnia, nightmares, and strange turn in his life from being taken care of by Mam to taking care of her as she slides into dem
Oct 17, 2012 Sue rated it it was amazing
The Dead I Know is a gripping, emotional rollercoaster of a book. The story centres around Aaron Rowe, who has left school to train as a funeral director with John Barton, owner and operator of JKB Funerals. Aaron lives with his Mam in a caravan. Mam is not mentally sound and it makes Aaron's life very difficult, especially because he loves her so much. Their relationship is a complicated one and, without slipping in a spoiler, not what I expected.

Aaron sleepwalks, having nightmares that seem li
Jun 15, 2011 Nic rated it liked it
Favourite Quote: There was the unknown, the dark, the cold and the emptiness to contend with out there, but those concepts are all relative. Cold compared to what? A dead hand? Dark compared to what? Unblinking eyes? At times the ocean seemed full beside my emptiness. At times it was the one knowable thing in my world.

The Dead I Know is a story that comes together like pieces of a puzzle. It is dark, mysterious and refreshingly different read.

This story is so different from what I expected but i
Giselle (Book Nerd Canada)
I didn’t know what to expect from this one. I actually thought it was about a medium (someone who speaks to the dead), but I was wrong. The description is very simple yet it shows there’s something more than what is on the surface. Aaron being a funeral director in training is correct. What I didn’t expect was the truth that finally came out in the end.

Aaron’s nightmares are vivid and scary..Violent and morbid. I couldn’t understand what it was. Here is this teenage boy trying to live, trying to
Jul 17, 2011 Skye rated it really liked it
This review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.

I had no idea what to think of The Dead I Know before -- or even as -- I started. All I knew is that it was a recent Aussie release, and that was good enough for me. Though, by the end, I was pleasantly surprised.

There's a lot of mystery shrouding Aaron in the beginning. He's stoic, and initially doesn't give much away through either his dialogue or first-person narration. We understand him better once we get a look at his home life, and s
Shirley Marr
Jul 29, 2011 Shirley Marr rated it liked it
Shelves: aussie-ya
I got off to a bad start with Scot Gardner's writing by reading Happy As Larry first, when I should have started off by reading this novel instead! I love the cover of The Dead I Know and I love the dark premise of a teen boy undertaking an apprenticeship as a Funeral Director. We meet Aaron as he is being interviewed, accepted by his new boss John Barton and beginning his transformation with a haircut and new clothing - and I took to the quiet, tall and dark, sparsely worded boy straight away.

Feb 07, 2015 Cheryl rated it did not like it
I was expecting this book to be somewhat like Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. Not in the way that I thought this book would be a love story or a zombie book but in the way that I thought it would be dark like Warm Bodies in exploring death but also in a twisted like hearted way. I got none of this from the fourteen chapters that I read. That is all I could make myself read. I was hoping it would get better as the story went along and Aaron got more familiar with his job. Yet I found it boring and d ...more
Melissa Chung
Aug 26, 2015 Melissa Chung rated it liked it
I don't know how I feel about this book so I'm giving it a 3.5 stars. I really felt for Aaron. I really liked Skye. But the book was kind of slow moving.

Aaron Rowe is a sleepwalker. He also has recurring nightmares that cause his sleepwalking. He lives in a trailer park with Mam and he is a funeral director in training. That is a lot to go on.

We meet Aaron at the funeral home. He is timid and shy and aims to please. He really wants to be there. John Barton is the funeral director, Aaron's boss.
Michele Harrod
Jan 23, 2012 Michele Harrod rated it really liked it
Wow, I really enjoyed this book, what a fabulous new voice, with a unique and surprising tale. It was hard to remind myself that this was intended as a Teen Novel. Despite the lead character being one, I never felt that I wasn't reading a serious adult novel. As someone who herself applied to work as a coronary assistant at the age of 16 and was turned away due to my age, I was fascinated with Aaron's ability to face the dead, and his feelings around them. This book was quite different to what I ...more
Steven R. McEvoy
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 s ...more
Kirsty Murray
Jun 10, 2011 Kirsty Murray rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. This book is beautifully written, fantastically structured and utterly compelling. I couldn't put it down. Scot Gardner's writing just keeps getting better and better.

A recent spate of YA novels with intensely unpleasant teenage male protagonists had made me almost wary of picking up yet another novel about a seventeen year old male but Gardner's protagonist Aaron Rowe is a compassionate, honourable, complex and deeply endearing character.
Apr 08, 2015 Tasha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teen
Aaron has just gotten a job at a funeral home with a man who is happy to give him all sorts of opportunities like a new suit, help with getting a driver’s license, and even invites him to eat meals with his family. But Aaron has too much to hide to trust his new boss. Mam is slipping deeper and deeper into dementia, often forgetting who Aaron is. The two of them live together in a camper where their neighbors are violent. Aaron also has a recurring nightmare that happens every time he falls asle ...more
Jun 30, 2015 Lara rated it really liked it
Shelves: royal
Aaron Rowe has just gotten a job at a funeral home, and that’s the best news he’s had in a long time. Aaron lives in a trailer park that is a haven for drug dealers and addicts with his Mam who has undiagnosed dementia. He has crippling nightmares and a horrible habit of sleepwalking and waking up in strange and often dangerous places. Aaron’s new boss, John Barton, hires Aaron on the recommendation of Aaron’s guidance counselor, and offers him the chance to learn a trade. Through the kindness o ...more
I didn't quite know what to expect out of this read when I started. The ARC ended up attainable and decided to give it a shot. This is one of those books that I liked, I enjoyed,l but it didn't wow me. It wasn't what I expected but I am not sure what I expected so that didn't bother me, I went in pretty clueless. It was a good story. I have just a few issues with the book but overall it was a good read.

Aaron lives with his mam, an elderly woman who is dealing with some issues. Issues that are of
Bethany Zimp
Apr 02, 2015 Bethany Zimp rated it really liked it
This short, quickly read, read disguises the intense topics and deep thought required to engage with this book. From the cover and description, I was expecting a light tromp into young adult land. This is not that book, it is something better, but simultaneously much more difficult. My following description makes it sound tripe, but I'm doing it injustice - as it is written from a vulnerable perspective with no aid visible, it reads as a sirens call for help.

Teenager Aaron is almost psychologic
May 08, 2011 Marj rated it really liked it
"What is life without a memory? Is it death? Sometimes memory was death - slow and painful, eating away at your insides, reeking of decay. Losing your memory would save you from that; wipe your slate clean. But the good would be swept aside with the bad. All the fine things to build a life on would be lost, leaving you just one thing - that moment. No dreams and no history. The ultimate expression of living in the now." p. 147 -148

Not since Evelyn Waugh's 'The Loved One' have I read a book set i
Moonlight Gleam
Aug 11, 2012 Moonlight Gleam rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
May 20, 2011 Larissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
Aaron Rowe has just started his first day at his new job as a funeral director. He is grateful for the job in more ways then one, primarily because it gets him out of going to school but the bonus is he'll get payed. There are some obvious draw backs to the position, though it is not the dead bodies as one would expect, it is the living that are left behind and their grief that has stirred something in Aaron.

It has been years since Aaron has had trouble sleeping, but now the nightmares have retu
Powerful, haunting, and absolutely unforgettable, The Dead I Know is not Scot Gardner's first novel, or even the first one to win him recognition, but it's the first one of his books published in Canada, and one that you simply can't afford to miss. It's a tour-the-force examination of the always difficult subject of death, grief and coping with the loss of a loved one. Above all, though, it's a heart-wrenching insight into one boy's tragic life and a deeply affecting, thought-provoking and unse ...more
Tom O’Connell
Aug 28, 2012 Tom O’Connell rated it really liked it
I was drawn to 'The Dead I Know' because of its thematic similarities to Six Feet Under. Also, it was a required class read. 'The Dead I Know' details the ins and outs of a working funeral home. But the procedural stuff [about funeral homes] was really just superficial padding, an intriguing backdrop to frame a strong, intimate narrative. It's not like this stuff wasn't interesting, though, and I do admit that it acted as a springboard on more than one occasion (laying the book's major themes ou ...more
Jess - The Tales Compendium
May 19, 2011 Jess - The Tales Compendium rated it really liked it
Shelves: aussie, contemporary
The Dead I Know begins with a lot of mystery surrounding our main character Aaron. He has shown up for his first day working at a funeral parlour looking worse for wear and with an antisocial attitude. We don't know a lot about him except that he's a bit of a loner, lives in a caravan park with Mam, who we assume to be his mother, and that she has some kind of mental illness. Because of Mam's apparent illness, Aaron has to play the role of the parent the majority of the time and since it is just ...more
Carol  MacInnis
Mar 03, 2012 Carol MacInnis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I won this book from a contest on Goodreads.

Aaron Rowe, fresh out of high school is now an apprentice working alongside John Barton, Funeral Director. To Aaron this is the perfect job for him. He lives with his 'Mam' in a van in a caravan park. Mam is a much older woman who is showing signs of, possibly, dementia. Aaron is a very shy, quiet person who also sleepwalks and is always frightened where he may find himself each morning and what had occured on these 'walks'. If only he could stop the s
Jul 15, 2015 Nancy rated it it was ok
A well written and compelling Australian young adult novel. Major themes of death and dementia, very intense scene revealed as the source of Aaron's nightmares and sleepwalking, some levity from his bosses daughter, Skye, but a little depressing none the less.
Jan 25, 2016 Julie rated it liked it
"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 hi ...more
Jun 08, 2015 Hilary rated it really liked it
Aaron’s home life is so out of control that his apprenticeship at a local funeral parlor makes the day-to-day activities of the funeral parlor resemble normalcy to him. Much of Aaron’s life is upside down. A loner by choice, Aaron and his new mentor, John, the funeral director, achieve a father-son relationship. At home, Aaron is the caretaker for Mam, an increasingly unstable woman who suffers from dementia and mental illness. Their flimsy trailer is in a seedy part of town. The ruffians who li ...more
Apr 26, 2015 Jessica rated it it was amazing
To anyone considering this book, please do yourself a favor and completely ignore the blurb. Go into The Dead I Know with no preconceptions, and just let it sweep you up and away. I can't believe how easy this read was. For the first time in my reading life, a book that dealt with monumentally heavy topics felt like it flew by. That might not make any sense now, but trust me when I say you'll see what I mean if you choose to add this to your reading list.

Aaron's past started as this vast and emp
Feb 25, 2015 Nicole rated it it was amazing
Wow. Just, wow. I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Aaron's new job as a funeral assistant is the only thing that is going right in his world. His mother is losing touch with reality, his horrifying reoccurring nightmare is slamming him nightly, and he sleepwalks himself into trouble almost every time he does get rest. When his personal life threatens to boil over and cost him everything, he will have to face some hard facts about his ...more
Anna Motteler
Feb 24, 2015 Anna Motteler rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-on-kindle
"The police protected the living, the ambulance officers protected the injured & we protected the dead. All as it should be."

I've never really read a book about a funeral director before. But in this book you're introduced to Aaron who has just accepted a job with a funeral director, obviously. Aaron is a little odd, to say the least. He lives in the caravan park with Mam and he has a serious sleep walking issue while Mam suffers dementia. The two are quite the pair together, but Aaron has
May 06, 2015 Sandy rated it really liked it
“To truly know death, you’d have to have loved.”

Aaron feels safe with his mam although her health was deteriorating. One minute she understands the present situation and then it wasn’t long before her mind was lost and playing tricks with her. He feels he can take care of her and he wants to keep their lives inside their van private. Finding a job working at a funeral parlor, Aaron thinks he can handle the job but sometimes things get to be too much for him. He likes the time away but he worries
THE DEAD I KNOW by Scot Gardner tells the gripping, coming-of-age story of a young man haunted by death and dreams he can’t explain.

In this compelling psychological drama, Aaron gets a job working at a funeral home during the day. However at night, he’s haunted by recurring nightmares unrelated to his job. In between, he must deal with a family member’s dementia and life in poverty.

Originally published in Australia, teens are likely to find the unfamiliar funeral home setting intriguing and th
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2016 Reading Chal...: The Dead I Know - Scot Gardner 2 15 Jul 13, 2015 10:35PM  
  • When We Were Two
  • The Coming of the Whirlpool (Ship Kings, #1)
  • The Protected
  • The Shiny Guys
  • The First Third
  • Being Here
  • Only Ever Always
  • Are You Seeing Me?
  • Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel
  • Intruder
  • Dear Vincent
  • Pig Boy
  • Crow Country
  • A Single Stone
  • The Extinction Gambit (The Extraordinaires, #1)
  • The Zigzag Effect
  • Song of the Slums
  • All I Ever Wanted
Scot Gardner wasn't born reading and writing; in fact, he left school in year eleven to undertake an apprenticeship in gardening with the local council. He has worked as a waiter, masseur, delivery truck driver, home dad, counselor, and musician.

These days he spends half the year writing and half the year on the road talking to people about his books and the craft of writing.
More about Scot Gardner...

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“It wasn’t hard to imagine them surrounded by their families as they did the last of their breathing. Said their goodbyes. Kissed cheeks. No luggage to check in. Leave your body with us, I thought. We’ll look after that.” 1 likes
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