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The Boy: A Novel Hardcover – January 15, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (January 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316206237
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316206235
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #853,945 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Santoro’s second novel (after Mercy, 2007), follows one woman’s unraveling after an affair with a younger man propels her to reexamine her perspectives on motherhood and her own identity. A former journalist, Anna is now a single mother in her forties. She and her precocious 8-year-old daughter, Eva, are now living in New Mexico after a bitter split with Eva’s father, who remains in England. An addition to their household is Espi, Eva’s protective caretaker, who has alcohol and gambling problems. The neighbor’s 20-year-old son, a college dropout, is inexplicably drawn to Anna, and the two begin an affair. When Eva travels abroad to spend time with her father, “the boy” moves in with Anna, much to the displeasure of seemingly everyone. Things inevitably begin to lurch out of control as the demons of Anna’s former life come into play, and her self-involved choices lead to catastrophic events in her life and the lives of those around her. Santoro’s fast-paced style aptly conveys Anna’s frenetic downward spiral. --Leah Strauss

Review

"I read it in one go, with my heart in my mouth. Witty, compulsive, sensuous, and brutally honest about the price of motherhood."—Emma Donoghue, author of Room

"Lara Santoro's The Boy is both a swift and seductive novel. To experience such brutal beauty is why I read fiction."—Alice Sebold, author of The Almost Moon

"I read this novel in one sitting and was mesmerized, addicted, charmed, jealous. The Boy is gorgeous, fiercely intelligent, deeply honest, and incredibly entertaining."—Anne Lamott, author of Some Assembly Required

"The Boy is beautifully written, beguiling in its fashion, hypnotic and swiftly paced. Lara Santoro tells a morally complicated and edgy story and doesn't retreat, but stays true to her music. The word brave comes to mind, as does masterful."—Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter's Bone

"Lara Santoro is a brilliant novelist whose vision is fierce and unsparingly clear. The Boy is a beautiful, brutally sensuous novel."—Kate Christensen, author of The Great Man

"Lara Santoro drills deep down, to the maelstrom of desire and despair that we cover up with the stories we tell ourselves. Unflinching and passionate, fierce and tender, The Boy is both a love story between parents and children, and a coming-of-age story for all women who are old enough to know better. It broke my heart."—Allegra Huston, author of Love Child

"The Boy unfolds with terse, impressionistic rapidity-like a spare, brutalist modern fairy tale....You can't turn away."—Ben Dickinson, Elle

"Brilliant....Ms. Santoro has crafted a book just as fascinating [as Junot Diaz's This Is How You Lose Her], twice as stark, and simply unforgettable."—Autumn Markus, New York Journal of Books

Customer Reviews

I don't consider it a waste of time to read, but I did not enjoy it like I thought I would.
JP
Grim; disappointing; disjointed; abrupt ending; No effort made to care about the characters or what happens to them during the book.
Debbie Mosser
The story of the desire for human touch was beautifully written and poignant, heartbreaking, and real.
millertime1029

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Amelia Gremelspacher TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This story riveted my attention from the first paragraph. Anna is an immensely knowable character. She has a child for whom she has devoted her life after the early year of post partum depression. In fact, "If motherhood leaves a residue from one lifetime to the next, a sort of encoded knowledge best deciphered at he direst times, Anna had every reason. To suspect she was on round number one."

Her daughter Eva is the organized one, the one who remembers due dates on books and when to pay fees. Anna finds herself living the straight and narrow. Until the night she meets the boy. He is the son of a dear friend, just graduated from college, and preternaturally wise.

From the first meeting of eyes she knows to stay away. And her struggles are the stuff of life. She unsuccessfully tries to ward off the incursion of Sonic slushies and frito pies into the diets of her slender daughter and not so skinny housekeeper. The women visit the "female river that flows north.". They act out Bladerunner, although Anna has never seen it.

The language of this book is seductive in its leading us through the story. The land in the American southwest sets a backdrop both sere and deep with secrets. The boy is a potentiality, older than the age of consent but younger than prudence and the rhythm of her days. In vignettes of words, Santoro draws her story and impels us to follow.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kathryn C. Hogan on April 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book is slim and reads very fast. Middle-aged Anna and her daughter have fled from the girl's father and moved across the ocean to start a new life. The girl is unusually perceptive and stubborn about certain things. She seems to have become the adult in this dysfunctional relationship. Her sensible warnings seem to foretell that things won't end well. At a party, Anna comes across the young (20) son of her neighbor. He makes an impression that sticks and Anna now has to decide if she'll let him push his way into her and her daughter's lives. Her judgment seemed to be off-kilter to start and now she's allowed Jim Beam to weigh in with his opinion. Are we now racing to an inevitable conclusion? I enjoyed the spot on dialogue between mother and daughter. The conclusion seemed to come up very fast and race to an unsettling end.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By goodreader on January 29, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lara Santoro fulfills the writing promise of her first novel, Mercy, with this skillful rendering of a tale about motherhood, sexual longing, and the consequences of mixing the two. The New Mexican scenes and seasons provide a rich setting for the protagonist's variously satisfying and harsh life and choices. Tension ripples through the carefully calibrated dialogue that spirits the reader along on a compelling tale about female strength and weakness that should put the author in league with the best novelists before her who have tackled these themes, perhaps with less honesty. Her spirited character, Anna, is painted neither black nor white but cloaked in the complex shadings of lovingness, selfishness, desire, regret, and conviction that we all recognize in ourselves.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lili on August 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
For those of us women who have worshipped at the alter of having-it-all, THE BOY is a wake-up call. In this achingly honest and raw portrait of modern motherhood, Santoro reminds us that we, as mothers, are first and foremost human beings. This powerful subject, paired with the expertly crafted writing kept me from putting this book down. This will make a perfect book club selection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Colwell on April 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I felt like I was reading excerpts from a longer novel. The writing was good,but the story felt so incomplete. I will not recommend this book to any of my friends.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By jfrancesca grano on February 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Her first novel, MERCY, was a brilliant and stunning beginning look at Anna and the human condition with all it's passions and failings. We needed to hear more!
Lara Santoro has done it again.
Now, in THE BOY, she has packed 181 pages with a vivid look inside the life and mind of an extraodinary woman, ANNA, who doesn't seem to know she is seriously more than adequate!
Santoro serves up the truth. And it is addicting. The truths we know, the truths we deny and does it beautifully with her command of language. We relate to descriptions both hilarious and poignant.And think on her confusions. Paragraph after paragraph she wrings the meanings of words dry and leaves them as dust in your mouth.
This book could have been called THE CHILD, because the relationship between Anna and her eight year old daughter, Eva, captures the love, innocence and wisdom of our children.
Santoro has filled this novel with characters we know or want to know and brings them to life with her magnificent shaping of dialogue
If you are looking for just a good read, this is it. If you want that read to be well written, honest, philosophical and seductive, this is it---BUT
If you are looking for a book you can't put down, one that grabs you by the shoulders and shakes you, one that leaves your soul screaming I GET IT, Lara Santoro has just written it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By K. on April 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Rather than being called "The Boy" this book probably should have been titled "The Dysfunctional Mother" because that's really what it was about. I got this book thinking that I was going to get a tantalizing, sensual story about a woman not afraid to explore her sexuality to the fullest. Instead, I ended up reading about a woman who is an absent mother, an alcoholic and a liar. She doesn't keep her word with anyone and while I can certainly understand a single mother wanting (and even needing) to pursue her own interests, Anna does so in the most selfish way imaginable, hurting people in the process. Even worse than the pitiful main character, the plot was jagged. A slim volume, it seemed to jump around often and leave out a lot of details that would have made the story feel more robust. As such, rather than a deep dive into this troubled woman's psyche, we get a glancing surface level examination of her angst and she seems to have no redeeming characteristics; not even in the end. Since we don't really understand her, we can't really relate to her - and the events occurring at the conclusion of the story therefore fail to elicit any sympathy or sorrow from the reader at all. In sum, Anna was vapid, selfish, and pretty stupid... and she got exactly what she deserved in the end.
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