The One-in-a-Million Boy – Monica Wood
Published by Hachette NZ
Miss Ona Vitkus has – aside from three months in the summer of 1914 – lived unobtrusively, her secrets fiercely protected.
The boy, with his passion for world records, changes all that. He is eleven. She is one hundred and four years old, one hundred and thirty-three days old (they are counting). And he makes her feel like she might be really special after all. Better late than never…
If The One-in-a-Million Boy was a plate of food, I’d tell you that I inhaled it faster than the Cookie Monster eats cookies. The enigmatic blurb on the back of the book had me fascinated and curious from the moment the book arrived, and the story itself fulfilled everything that blurb promised.
It’s a beautiful, poignant, and delightful story, tinged with sadness, and sewn together with a cast of appealing and loveable characters.
There’s something so likeable about 104-year-old Ona Vitkus. She’s gracefully feisty and stubbornly witty. She doesn’t suffer fools lightly, and expects others to live up to their words. She doesn’t read as a woman of her age should, and it’s only the occasional references to her frailty that remind the reader that while she might be young of heart, she’s certainly not young of body. She has her secrets and has kept them locked away for most of her life, but something about the young boy scout who comes to do chores around her house makes her begin to reveal and remember more about her past.
Quinn Porter and his ex-wife Belle are both superbly written, curious characters. There is a feeling of growth for Quinn through the story, as a father, as an ex-partner, as a musician, and as a friend. Belle’s grief is palpable and believable – both for her son and her relationship with Quinn.
The One-in-a-Million Boy is fascinating and unique, and for the first time in a while, I felt like I wanted to start it all over again once I’d finished. I loved Wood’s style; she writes in a slightly quirky manner that fits perfectly with the story and characters, yet it’s still very readable and well-written.
Thanks to the Hachette NZ team for another brilliant read.