There are many books that deal with themes of love, guilt, friendship, prejudice and redemption. They don’t usually break your heart a little bit by page 13.
The One-in-a-million Boy tells the stories of Ona Vitkus, an aged divorcee, and the characters who come into her life. A Lithuanian migrant, she is long settled in Portland, Maine, USA, and strikes up an unexpected friendship with an 11-year old boy. She starts to tell him her life story, and her past is interwoven with her present as she navigates the ghosts that her stories have raised and the increasingly-complicated here-and-now
Monica Wood slowly, slowly reveals the key elements of the plot; but the pace is never slow, which might seem like a contradiction. Little things start to make sense, the more you know about the various characters, and you develop sympathy and understanding for the characters as the plot builds.
It’s hard to talk further about the plot or the characters without revealing too much. The story is at once deeply sad and uplifting, gentle and yet compelling. I’m really glad I read it, and sorry that it’s finished. And I will be remembering to appreciate birdsong, particularly the dawn chorus. You’ll have to read the book to find out why.
Reviewed by Rachel Moore
The One-in-a-million Boy
by Monica Wood
Published by Headline Review (Hachette)