The One-in-a-Million Boy is a story of a friendship between an old lady (I dare to say old, at 104!) and a boy scout, helping her with house chores and keeping her company. None of them are particularly popular, yet despite this (or because of it?), they become close. Ona starts to speak about events which she considered long forgotten and the boy finds someone who is not like the others; someone, who is truly his friend. Shortly, the boy is replaced by his father to ‘finish the unfinished’ and maybe some traces which would help him to know and understand better his son. Now, when he’s gone.
Surprisingly, the entangled love story of boy’s father Quinn, his mother Belle and Ted Ledbetter, is not a cliché. The fact that The One-in-a-Million Boy is not a young adult or chic-lit might be a reason behind this, but whatever lead to it, it made me happy. Relationships are not easy and require lot of effort, hope and forgiveness. People should get to know stories of others, not only the shiny, polished bits on social media. Maybe then there wouldn’t be such shame in going through divorce and having a hard time to process it – while I understand the impact on kids is in many cases enormous, so is on their parents who are losing not only a partner. On the other hand, it also shows the reality of parents not having such good relationships with their kids, as a result of old quarrels or simply because they have slowly drifted apart. And what more: the theme of death is omnipresent throughout the whole book and still has Monica managed not to slide into characters so deeply affected, that they start to annoy the readers.* I’ve read few such books and some I didn’t even finish. Here I felt at peace and it made me enjoy my read.
I’ve become slowly, but surely, fascinated by immigrant stories in my current reads. In case of The One-in-a-Million Boy, the main character, 104-year-old Ona, comes from Lithuania as a young girl but only recently does her memory reveal pieces of old memories and, incredibly, even words of her dead parents in the native language, which she has long lost. How many emotions must one experience when losing connections with native country? And what about when losing a language – can it still be considered a loss and if so, is like that for everyone?
In short, The One-in-a-Million Boy is both a heart-warming and heart-broking piece of fiction. I must admit I find the premise a bit misleading, as I expected to read a story about a young boy and an olderly woman, who accidentally find a friend in each other, and hoped to follow their everyday adventures and conversations. You know, something like to Tuesdays with Morrie. In some way it may be similar, but most of the book storyline is based around their friendship, not on it. Finishing The One-in-a-Million Boy made me almost wish for another sequel, so I could read more about this fascinating boy!
*Here I want to clarify that by no means do I want belittle someone’s experience: my issue is with fictional deaths of fictional characters, which affect another fictional characters.