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Boy's Life by Robert McCammon

Boy's Life (original 1991; edition 1992)

by Robert McCammon (Author)

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2,069735,483 (4.3)64
The lake's depths claim a car and a corpse. Cory and his father begin searching for the truth of this death. Cory's life explodes into a kaleidoscope of clues and puzzles. As he searches for a killer he learns more about the meaning of life, and death.
Title:Boy's Life
Authors:Robert McCammon (Author)
Info:Pocket Books (1992), Edition: Reprint, 608 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Boy's Life by Robert McCammon (1991)

  1. 110
    The Body by Stephen King (morningwalker)
    morningwalker: Set in about the same time period with boys about the same age.
  2. 21
    The Bottoms by Joe R. Lansdale (DChurch71)
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    Gone South by Robert McCammon (Anonymous user)
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    The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon (Sandwich76)

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» See also 64 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 72 (next | show all)
Absolutely fabulous! It's a coming of age tale set in 1964 in Alabama told from the point of view of 11 year old Cory Mackenson. Cory is a budding writer - and knows how to spin a story - and as he's 11, there's still a fair bit of magic in the world. The story is a series of vignettes that are strung together with a mystery that Cory and his father need to get to the bottom of. The vignettes expand on all the unique characters in this little Alabama town - from the milk man, gas station owner, piano teacher, the local vet, the local witch, the girls at the house of ill repute, a former gunslinger, and the eccentric son of the wealthy owner of most of the town (who has issues with his wardrobe) - and thus build this world well. If you liked the style of "To Kill a Mockingbird" you will enjoy this one as well. I listened to this one from Audible - and it's very well done. I will surely pick it up and re-read (or re-listen to) it again in the future. ( )
  wills2003 | Jul 30, 2020 |
This book has SO MANY 5-star reviews! And you know what - I totally get why. It's well-written, highly evocative of a place and time, compelling, etc. But from me, still three stars.

I only starting reading about this book when I was halfway through reading it, which I think was a good thing. Apparently this book defies genre, with reviews describing it as fantasy, horror, magic realism, etc. - Amazon puts it under Religious and Inspirational Visionary Fiction and Metaphysical. Honestly, I'm not entirely sure how to tag it myself because while there were some magical parts, it doesn't have the literary feel of fantasy or magic realism. If I'd been reading this book expecting to hit fantasy or horror at some point, I would have been confused. A lot of what happened could be explained as being part of a young boy's imagination. 90% of the protagonists and antagonists are based in reality - there's murder and bigotry, courage and morality. Most of the 10% left can go either way, depending on how you want to read it. (Triceratops or rhino? Do boys really sprout wings and fly for one day a year or was that artistic flourish? Does Rocket have a mind of its own or does Cory just ascribe meaning to riding over potholes, or decisions that he didn't think he could have made on his own?) The rest seems almost out of place, but not really because there's nothing really wrong with this book.

While reading, I did wish it was shorter. That said, I didn't slog through it, it was an enjoyable read the whole way through. I did think it was funny that Cory mentioned a couple times that his town was normally pretty sleepy, and it seemed like it was supposed to be a snapshot of a normal, small, southern town, but SO MUCH STUFF HAPPENED in the summer this book was set in.

I gave this book 3 stars because it wasn't written for my generation. Sure, it was enchanting or whatever, but in the end it wasn't nostalgic for me and it's not going to stick with me for too long. ( )
  katebrarian | Jul 28, 2020 |
So what is there really to say really about a book I loved from beginning to end A book that made me cry a few times while reading and definitely sigh when I came to the end.

There is a central mystery to Boy's Life that the main character Cory is trying to figure out, but really the main plot really is the magic that Cory tries to hold onto while he is on the cusp of leaving his boyhood behind.

Cory Mackenson lives in Zephry, Alabama in the 1960s. While taking a ride with his father in his milk truck one day, they come across a car going into a nearby lake. What they find there changes Cory's father and him. Cory's father grows depressed, distant, and feels as if the world he thought he knew is just a lie. Cory instead starts to do some digging, because he swears he saw a man standing there watching him and his father.

The entire story is told in the first person by Cory. There is not much to say besides the fact that I thought that Cory was wonderful as a character. Robert R. McCammon perfectly captures an 11 year old boy who loves his family, friends, and his loyal dog. Watching as Cory starts to understand the power of words, telling stories, and ultimately writing down his stories was great.

The secondary characters in this story shine too. Cory's father and mother are good people trying to do the best that they can. What hurts though is that Cory starts to see that his family is flawed. You remember that feeling when you were a kid when you realized that your parents were not these omnipotent beings? Well Cory starts to have those feelings too. What you love about it, is that through dreams (visions) Cory is fighting really hard to make sure that he keeps the magic that he knows to be true inside of him even with everything that is going on.

The other characters, Cory's best friends are great. I cheered on Johnny, cried over Davy Ray, and cracked up over Ben's doubting Thomas act. I felt like I was right there with them while they flew, biked, camped, and fought.

There are also other characters that I absolutely wish we could have spent more time on such as the so called Lady and her community that lived in Bruton. One of my favorite scenes with her involved her and Cory and Cory actually going backwards to see how the Lady looked and realizing how powerful she really was.

The writing was wonderful. There were several times while reading that I cried. This book really takes a hard look at death and you get to see Cory react differently to it each time he is faced with it. Besides the central mystery that Cory is trying to solve.

We also have the book looking at racism in the 1960s. There was some ugliness with some of the characters and for those who don't like to read the "N" word, that is in there as well. I do applaud McCammon though for including it and not trying to pretty it up. One of the reasons why I did get annoyed by books such as "The Help".

The flow was great. Though some readers may get annoyed that the central mystery takes so long to unravel, I did not. Frankly I don't like it when a book somehow has the main character figuring out who done it 2 days later. And it was realistic with everything else going no with Cory, that the mystery would not be uppermost in his mind.

The setting of Zephyr, Alabama was magical. Everything about the town and the people. The way that the author describes it you think you could find it and explore it yourself and point out landmarks here and there.

The ending made me happy and also sad. You get to read about what became of Cory, his family, and his friends. And you also get to read about what became of the town of Zephyr.

I cannot recommend this book enough. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
Great book! It was slow at first but the 2nd half made up for it. Corey is the Forest Gump of Zephyr. It has a Stephen King The Stand vibe in a way...southern, race, good and evil with a fantasy edge.

4.5 stars ( )
  ReneeNL | Jun 29, 2020 |
(Audible unabridged)
Murder and Monsters and Magic – Oh my! This story starts with Cory and his dad seeing a car plunge into a lake on an early morning milk delivery. The man could not be saved. Not only that, but it's pretty obvious he was murdered. But that is only part of the story. This isn't so much a murder mystery as it is a coming of age story.

A seemingly idyllic childhood in a seemingly idyllic small town has its dark side, and its mysteries beyond just that early murder. There is magic, too, and it's up to the reader to decide what is real and what is not. And monsters. Well, an animal monster that is a legend,but perhaps a human monster later on? There is racial segregation and prejudice but there is also a magnificent Black woman with great, mystical power. This book makes the reader nostalgic for a simpler time that,when you look more closely, really wasn't that simple.

Do be aware, though, that Zephyr, Alabama, is not a good place to be if you are an animal. There were some animal cruelty scenes that were hard for me to stomach.

The book is also descriptive and meandering. I actually like that in a book. I like the to watch the atmosphere build and I like to picture the scene. I never read unabridged books. But for those who want to get to the point, Audible lists this unabridged book as 20 hours and 4 minutes, but the abridged version is only 2 hours and 55 minutes. I can't imagine hearing this beautiful story chopped down to less than three hours. I'll be reading more by this author, and I'll make sure I get the unabridged versions. ( )
  TooBusyReading | Jun 12, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 72 (next | show all)
From Library Journal
In 1964, 12-year-old Cory Mackenson lives with his parents in Zephyr, Alabama. It is a sleepy, comfortable town. Cory is helping with his father's milk route one morning when a car plunges into the lake before their eyes. His father dives in after the car and finds a dead man handcuffed to the steering wheel. Their world no longer seems so innocent: a vicious killer hides among apparently friendly neighbors. Other, equally unsettling transmogrifications occur: a friend's father becomes a shambling bully under the influence of moonshine, decent men metamorphose into Klan bigots, "responsible" adults flee when faced with danger for the first time. With the aid of unexpected allies, Cory faces hair-raising dangers as he seeks to find the secret of the dead man in the lake. McCammon writes an exciting adventure story. He also gives us an affecting tale of a young man growing out of childhood in a troubled place and time. Recommended.
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We ran like young wild furies,
where angels feared to tread.
The woods were dark and deep.
Before us demons fled.
We checked Coke bottle bottoms
to see how far was far.
Our worlds of magic wonder
were never reached by car.
We loved our dogs like brothers,
our bikes like rocket ships.
We were going to the stars,
to Mars we'd make round trips.
We swung on vines like Tarzan,
and flashed Zorro's keen blade.
We were James Bond in his Aston,
we were Hercules unchained.
We looked upon the future
and we saw a distant land,
where our folks were always ageless,
and time was shifting sand.
We filled up life with living,
with grins, scabbed knees, and noise.
In glass I see an older man,
but this book's for the boys.
First words
I want to tell you some important things before we start our journey.
To my mother, the world was a vast quilt whose stitches were always coming undone. Her worrying somehow worked like a needle, tightening those dangerous seams.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The lake's depths claim a car and a corpse. Cory and his father begin searching for the truth of this death. Cory's life explodes into a kaleidoscope of clues and puzzles. As he searches for a killer he learns more about the meaning of life, and death.

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