The One In A Million Boy
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April 5, 2016
Monica Wood is a masterful storyteller. In her novel, One in a Million Boy, she addresses the important subjects of death, friendship, love and commitment in a sweet, not saccharine way.
This is a touching story of Ona Vitkus, a 104-year-old Lithuanian woman, and a kind, socially awkward, nameless 11-year-old Boy Scout obsessed with counting and world records. Very soon into the book (page 3) we discover the boy dies from a one in a million condition. His untimely death comes after 7 weeks of Boy Scout old person “duty calls” that gracefully morphed into motivating Ona to become a Guinness World Record holder (and not due to her age!) Wood has the tragic death of the boy serve as the catalyst for the twin story lines – that of loss and redemption. The reader is confronted with a large cast of characters, but it is Quinn, the boy’s guilt-laden musician father, and the acerbic Ona that keep us interested. Their unlikely relationship only exists because of “the boy” and the legacy he leaves behind. The reader soon realizes through Wood’s prose that theirs is a poignant journey towards self-realization albeit motivated by an imposed friendship.
I strongly recommend this book. The plot is simple but clever; the characters well developed and beautifully sketched, and the writing is simultaneously witty and heart wrenching.