Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The One-in a-Million Boy; Monica Wood

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - 2016


"I didn't mean that librarians in general are rats in the weeds.  I'm sure your mother is very nice. Most librarians are." [referring to "the boy's mother Belle]

The "One-in-a-Million Boy" was just eleven when he died (we learn that in the first few pages of the novel),  but in his very short life he made a lasting impression on the lives of those he touched.  Sadly, we never even know this amazing child's name, he is simply referred to as "the boy."He  leaves behind his mother, Belle, a librarian and father Quinn.

As part of a Boy Scout project, "The Boy" spent Saturdays helping 104 year old Ona Vitkus, an immigrant from Lithuania, who now lives in Portland, Maine.  He helps her around the house, interviews her and records her life, a life she has managed to keep private until she meets "the boy." "The Boy" is obsessed with the Guinness Book of World Records and can recite all sorts of figures and facts. When he learns Ona's age, he is determined to find out more and get her into the world record book.

When a week goes by and "the boy" doesn't show up, she feels he was just another one who has disappointed her.  A week later his twice-divorced, guitar playing father Quinn shows up at her door to explain that his son has died and he would like to help Ona out.  Quinn was an absent father who regrets not being the kind of father his son deserved. The result is an unlikely friendship which transforms both their lives in unexpected ways.

This novel is not so much about a young boy who has died, but, a story about those that he leaves behind and the positive impression he left on the lives he touched.  A truly inspiring story with fully realized characters, themes of community, friendship grief and isolation, The One-in-a-Million Boy, will warm your heart and leave its mark. Be sure to read it.

4.5/5 stars
(review copy)

18 comments:

  1. I normally avoid any book where a child dies but I do really like the sound of this one and the relationship between the boy and Ona and then Quinn and Ona. I'm adding this to my TBR.

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    1. You would love this book as it doesn't dwell on his illness or death but just the impact his life had on others.

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  2. This sounds wonderful and very thought-provoking. I often wonder what small (or larger) interactions with people will have lasting effect.

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    1. It's funny some people go through life never feeling like that made a difference but, others remember their kindness fondly.

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    1. So happy to hear this was a hit with you as well -- very well done indeed.

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  4. I think I need to add this to my WL. It sounds really good!

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    1. It's a book that will appeal to a wide variety of readers.

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  5. Sounds like a good book for a day when one needs encouragement about the goodness of people.

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    1. You put it beautifully Judy. it's a special story.

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  6. This sounds very good! I will have to check it.

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  7. This sounds like my kind of book! Can't wait to read it!

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  8. That does sound most interesting.

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  9. Oh, I love the sound of this. I've added it to my list!

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  10. What a life affirming story. I'm going to have to pin this one so I don't forget about it.

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  11. The story does sounds inspiring and refreshing. Quite sad too.

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