- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (April 5, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 054461707X
- ISBN-13: 978-0544617070
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (501 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The One-in-a-Million Boy Hardcover – April 5, 2016
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From the Publisher
Tips for Writers, From Monica Wood, author of The One-in-a-Million Boy
Are you a beginning, discouraged, or struggling writer? Here are some tips to help you with your writing — and your writing life.
The new novel I have coming out shortly, The One-in-a-Million Boy, is a big fat lesson in writerly persistence. I spent four years writing it, from 2004-2008, at which time I delivered it with great confidence only to have it rejected by my longtime publisher. Sparing you the details of devastation, I will say only that I put it aside for five years — during which time I wrote a memoir and a play — then resurrected it, spent about eight more months on it, and sold it almost literally overnight. Ergo, I have a big sign in my workspace, just one comforting word: Wait. And, while you are waiting, write something else.
I've recently written a play and seen it come all the way to the stage. Which reminds me how important it is to read our work aloud. Especially dialogue. An audience is unnecessary, but those oral (and aural) clues are important, especially in the final drafts.
I have started color-coding everything: speakers in scenes, time periods, even tenses in flashback scenes. I like any visual clues to the structure of a piece, and I often find clunky, overwritten passages this way, or stray bits that either don't belong or should be expanded.
If you fear frittering away your precious writing time, try working on more than one thing at a time. I never used to do this, but now I'm finding it effective. It helps if the two (or three) things consist of one big thing (a novel or play) and one small thing (a 1000-word essay). When you come to an impasse on the first, the second awaits.
I keep things in colored folders now, and lay them out like a work plan. It looks so organized that it makes me feel more confident.
Six: Universal Writers' Tip
Get a cat. It worked for Mark Twain, Collette, and Henry James; it'll work for you.
"Wood dishes out tragedy and charm in equal measure with an intergenerational friendship that retains its beauty despite death...although most readers will find tissues often necessary while navigating the layers of this story, the conclusion will leave them smiling through their tears."—Shelf Awareness
"Wood (Any Bitter Thing, 2005) tells a simultaneously sad and joyous story of a unique 11-year-old boy and the legacy he leaves behind. Known only as “the boy,” he has no friends, and spends his time obsessively compiling mental lists and memorizing countless Guinness world records. As part of his work to earn a Boy Scout badge, the boy does yard work for 104-year-old Ona Vitkus, a Lithuanian immigrant living nearby. They forge a close bond over the course of seven Saturdays, then the boy dies. His mostly absent musician father, Quinn, volunteers to finish the last three of the boy’s weekends. Quinn becomes aware of his son’s and Ona’s plan to get her into a Guinness records book—hopefully, as the oldest licensed driver—and this leads first to a road trip to find Ona’s only living son, now 90, and eventually to a visit to her homeland at age 109. Wood’s portrait of a fractured, grieving family is peopled by endearing characters and should appeal to readers who enjoy the family-centered novels of Jodi Picoult and Kristin Hannah."—Booklist
In The One-in-a-Million Boy, Monica Wood tells a magical, beautifully written story about the healing power of friendship, music, and unexpected, generation-spanning connections. As emotionally resonant as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, this novel hums with energy, warmth, wisdom, humor, and soul. —Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan Train
From the Inside Flap
The incandescent story of a 104-year-old woman and the sweet, strange young boy assigned to help her around the house a friendship that touches each member of the boy s unmoored family.
For years, guitarist Quinn Porter has been on the road, chasing gig after gig, largely absent to his twice ex-wife Belle and their odd, acutely observant eleven-year-old son, who is obsessed with Guinness World Records. When the boy dies suddenly, Quinn seeks forgiveness for his paternal shortcomings by completing the requirements for his son s unfinished Boy Scout badge.
For seven Saturdays, Quinn does yard work for Ona Vitkus, the spry, 104-year-old Lithuanian immigrant the boy had visited weekly. Quinn soon discovers that the boy had talked Ona into gunning for the world record for Oldest Licensed Driver and that s the least of her secrets. Despite himself, Quinn picks up where the boy left off, forging a friendship with Ona that allows him to know the son he never understood: a boy who was always listening, always learning.
The One-in-a-Million Boy is a richly layered novel of very real hearts broken seemingly beyond repair and yet still within reach of a stunning act of human devotion.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book jumps between Quinn's and Ona's perspectives, and a set of tape recordings the boy made with Ona, interviewing her about her life for a school project.
Wood is a master writer. Her style is never to heady and overdone, yet builds people and locations that are incredibly vivid and true. Every character is completely real to me as I read. You love them the moment they are introduced. The motion throughout is quiet and introspective, but moves, constantly, through their lives together in a natural way that never seems slow. You want to be with them, and miss them when the story is over. It's hard to explain, I guess, how good Monica Wood is until you read. When you don't see the writing, only the images and events she is building with words. The first and foremost sign of a perfect storyteller.
In my previous review I'd said ERNIE'S ARK could easily be the Great American Novel if it had been a novel and not a story collection, and I could easily say the same to this one. One small slice of the American pie, like the other taking place in Maine, the author's home state.
I can't recommend this book enough. Beautiful, touching, funny, and full of of real people who are trying their best to live their lives after the bottom has dropped out from under them, in their own, unique way.
However, the whole thing felt morose, and I found myself feeling grouchy after each reading spell. The characters are understandably sad, because of a recent death. Still, I hope for some luminosity when I read something, some glistening of human loveliness. And after halfway through this book, I didn't see much hope of that unfolding.