Monday 11 January 2016

The One in a Million Boy - Monica Wood

Miss Ona Vitkus has - aside from three months in the summer of 1914 - lived unobtrusively, her secrets fiercely protected.
The boy, with his passion for world records, changes all that. He is eleven. She is one hundred and four years, one hundred and thirty three days old (they are counting). And he makes her feel like she might be really special after all. Better late than never...
Only it's been two weeks now since he last visited, and she's starting to think he's not so different from all the rest.
Then the boy's father comes, for some reason determined to finish his son's good deed. And Ona must show this new stranger that not only are there odd jobs to be done, but a life's ambition to complete . . .

What did I think?

I think this will be one of those quirky books that divides opinion.  Headline have certainly put a lot of effort into the publicity of this book and I do think it is deserved, although it didn't have as much of a magical effect on me as I had hoped.

Ona is a fabulous character - I described the book as quirky and Ona accounts for most of that quirkiness, along with the 'boy' in the title.  Ona is 104 years old and is helped by the local scout group, which is how she meets 'the boy', after unsuccessfully trialling several scouts.  They hit it off immediately and become firm friends, but one day 'the boy' doesn't show up and his father comes instead.  Ona is determined not to like him but fate has other ideas and the two hit it off, showing Quinn that his son was more like him than he realised.

I struggled slightly with 'the boy' - everyone calls him 'the boy' and it's almost as if he doesn't have a name.  It just seems so impersonal when he made such an impression on so many lives, but at the same time it makes sense as it's how Ona refers to him and the book is written mainly from her perspective.  It's probably because she can't remember his name, which is the reason I've heard some older people use such a reference.  So nothing against the book, it's simply because it annoys me in real life too!

One thing that amazed me, and it is testament to Monica Wood's exceptional writing skills, was that my brain could hear the boy's words in the one sided interview transcript with Ona.  I even didn't realise I was filling in the gaps at first, but, without realising it, 'the boy' had gotten under my skin too.

I really enjoyed the boy's obsession with the Guinness World Records.  His enthusiasm was caught by Ona and certainly gave her a new lease of life.  Reading the records at the end, you just knew that the boy's family had a huge part to play in them.

Despite the sad subject matter, I did get a warm glow at the end of the book.  I think it just goes to show that a short life can have a massive effect.

I received this e-book from the publisher, Headline, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Published 5 April 2016 - pre-order from Amazon

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