The Book Mark

Books that make the grade.

Tag Archives: loss of a child

The One-In-A-Million Boy


It’s hard for anyone to imagine what happens to a parent when a child dies. Unfortunately, having lost a child, I’ve become a bit of an expert and without a doubt Monica Wood got it right in her new novel The One-In-A-Million Boy (B+).

The child referred to as “the boy” was 11 years old when he suddenly died from a rare heart disease no one was aware he had. His parents Quinn and Belle are in shock as is his scoutmaster and an elderly woman of 104 years of age, Ona Vitkus. Taking care of Ona was his new assignment. He was to do chores for her over a period of ten weeks. The boy was an intense child. He had no friends and appeared odd and quirky. His own father, Quinn was unable to handle his behaviors and just didn’t know how to communicate with him. Sadly, he often gave up trying. The stress of the child and the busy “career” that Quinn had as a guitarist destroyed his marriage not once but twice. At the time of the child’s death, he and Belle we again separated.

Reminiscent of A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Wood’s character “the boy” is clearly autistic. Everything he does is done in groups of ten. He obsesses over facts, in particular, those of the Guinness World Book of Records. As Ona gets to know him, she finds he is charming and lovable and she grows strongly attached. As Quinn completes his son’s chores for Ona he becomes attached to her.

Grief is overwhelming. Denial, guilt, love, hate, sadness, frustration are only some of the emotions displayed by these grieving characters. What transpires over the course of this story magnificently portrays how the loss of a child can either destroy or strengthen a parent. While at times it was hard for me, I identified with every aspect depicted. The characters were authentic and powerful. For these reasons, I highly recommend The One-In-A-Million Boy to everyone. It is a story that will impact every reader whether you have suffered a loss or not.