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The One-in-a-Million Boy

by Monica Wood

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6655426,706 (4.14)57
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, Guinness records-obsessed son. When the boy dies suddenly, Quinn seeks forgiveness for his paternal shortcomings by completing the requirements for one of his son's unfinished Boy Scout badges. 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. 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.… (more)
  1. 10
    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (WendyRobyn)
    WendyRobyn: It's a while since I read the Safran Foer book, but something about the boy characters and their quests (perhaps for meaning through collected data?) seems akin.
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» See also 57 mentions

English (52)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (54)
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
This one fell a bit short of my expectations. I think my main problem was that the story puts the least interesting character at the forefront. There’s a Lithuanian immigrant, an eccentric young boy obsessed with world records, and a grieving mother, but instead, we focus on a mediocre musician who has a good heart but is still a neglectful father. I just felt like every other character had a more interesting story and was disappointed each time we returned to Quinn‘s narrative.

"Certain things, examined in the frozen light of retrospect, were simply unforgiveable." ( )
  bookworm12 | Aug 3, 2021 |
4 1/2 ( )
  MuggleBorn930 | Jul 11, 2021 |
A breath-takingly beautiful story of loss and gain. The characters are rich in their subtly, the story told simply but with beauty and the ending a tearful release. This is one I feel like I should read yearly to remind myself of what really matters. ( )
  ColourfulThreads | Feb 18, 2021 |
I really like this book. Great characters and although "the boy" is present only for a moment he's woven throughout the novel. The shards on tape might be my favorite parts. The one-sided conversation gives such insight into both Ona and "the boy." It's a really feel-good read and while reading it I was reminded of "A Man Call Ove."

Highly recommended. This would be a good book club book. ( )
  3CatMom | Dec 28, 2020 |
This novel traces the posthumous influence of an 11 year-old boy on a sympathetic set of adults, and traces the effects of his life and death to self-discovery, love, responsibility, and record-setting longevity. It’s a unique, gratifying read, written with intelligence, wisdom, and kindness. The author’s kindness extends to her characters as well as her readers: the love the characters feel for each other reaches the surface in unusual ways. And Monica Wood’s readers feel her kindness through the realistic strivings and the partial and sometimes surprising success they meet with. This is superb.

A shy, unaccomplished 11 year-old Boy Scout visits 104 year-old Ona to assist with chores and record her history, as part of an exercise to earn a merit badge. Ona is Lithuanian and sharp as a tack. She’s lived in the U.S. since 1913, was married to a dull, unloving man for nearly three decades, but has nevertheless lived an interesting life. After the boy’s passing, his father Quinn takes over. First he takes on the chores, and eventually he fills a void which the youngster’s passing has created.

Quinn is in many ways the focus of the story. He performs chores around the house for Ona scrupulously at first, before their relationship gels into a friendship. Quinn’s marriage has fractured - twice - but Ona observes Quinn’s continuing devotion to his ex-wife Belle. She finds she admires Quinn’s perseverance and kindness, and allows him to pursue her plan to re-qualify for her driver’s license. This license is a wonderful trope by Wood, a hard encapsulation of Ona’s determined will to continue to function normally despite her age.

“The One-in-a-Million Boy” has such a big heart: it has space for everyone’s ambitions, everyone’s failings, everyone’s redemption, everyone’s love. I recommend this book as heartily as I have before for Wood, one of my favorites. “My Only Story” is superb, “Any Bitter Thing” gratifying and balanced, but “The One-in-a-Million Boy” takes the cake. A multiple award winner, and my new favorite among Wood’s oeuvre, be sure to take this one up! ( )
  LukeS | Oct 13, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
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For Joe Sirois, who completed our family, and Gail Hochman, who made the whole journey
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This is Miss Ona Vitkus.
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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, Guinness records-obsessed son. When the boy dies suddenly, Quinn seeks forgiveness for his paternal shortcomings by completing the requirements for one of his son's unfinished Boy Scout badges. 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. 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.

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