Book Review: The One-In-A-Million Boy

The-One-in-a-million-boy-by-Monica-Woods★★★★

After finishing The One-In-A-Million Boy by Monica Wood, I am an emotional wreck. Within the first chapter of the book, we learn the nameless, “one-in-a-million” boy has died and we are left with the aftermath of this tragedy. One interesting element of this novel is the absence/presence of “the boy.” From the very first chapter, we know that he is gone, and yet he permeates everything. I absolutely love the way Wood never lets us hear from the boy. We are only left with the reactions to him. While studying art in college, one technique I learned was to only draw empty space and let the un-drawn space on the paper create the image. Wood is taking a similar approach to building everything but the main character to draw us into him.

The boy left behind three essential characters we follow throughout the novel: his parents, and an elderly neighborhood woman. Each is uniquely complicated, deeply flawed, and tragic in their own way. Quinn, the boy’s father, is selfish, immature, and filled with regret. Belle is a grieving mother, riddled with guilt, frustrated by her (now twice-over) ex-husband. Ona is an extremely lonely, elderly woman, and the main medium through which we learn about the boy through a series of one-sided interviews.

Ona was my favorite character – she’s the type of character who teaches you something. Whether that be the difference between “persuading” and “convincing,” or recognizing the people who come into your life, even for a short time, and leave a lasting impact. She’s filled with understated wisdom, a life of hard lessons shared with the benefit of retrospect.

If you liked A Man Called Ove and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, I would suggest picking this one up. Quinn reminds me of Ove and the boy reminds me Oskar. It’s pretty sad, but it’s also clever, funny, and heartwarming.

I won’t talk about it, but I LOVE the ending. It’s just perfect.

Here’s an interview with author Monica Wood:

Book Review: Eleanor & Park

eleanor and park★★★

Sometimes the weird, awkward moments are the moments we fall in love. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell reminds of that in a really refreshing and beautiful way. Everything about the two teens in love is perfectly imperfect and it works really well. Rowell charmingly reminded me how friendships are formed when we’re kids. I truly enjoyed watching Eleanor and Park bond over music and comic books. The initial set up of their friendship really made the ending (which I won’t spoil) all the more meaningful.

Eleanor’s home situation made me cringe, from the first to last page. I appreciate how complicated Eleanor’s feelings were about her family. Throughout the novel, I found myself trying to see the good in her family and hoping it would work out. It’s heartbreaking to know that a lowlife like her stepfather was given so much power over her life. For pretty much the whole book, I wanted to scream at her mother. Rationally, I understand the desperation of Eleanor’s mother, but I still don’t find her to be a forgivable character.

Park’s home life balanced well with Eleanor’s situation. His family wasn’t perfect, but it was about as close as you can get to it. I understand why Rowell made Park’s parents so lovey-dovey in order to illustrate it was a home filled with love. However, it was a little bit cheesy and not very realistic. Nevertheless, Park’s family reminds us all the importance and power of a loving family; just as Eleanor’s family reminds us the consequences of a family without love.

Apparently, it was in development to become a movie, but it got canceled. Hopefully, it’ll get picked up again. I think it would make a great movie, I can see it with a Celeste & Jesse Forever vibe to it.

Overall, worth a read. I gave it three stars instead of four because I thought it was a tad juvenile. I read it online, so I didn’t know when I picked it up that it was in the young adult section.