The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood
Publisher: Headline Review
Release date: 5 April 2016
Back cover blurb: A one-in-a-million story for anyone who loves to laugh, cry, and think about how extraordinary ordinary life can be. Not to be missed by readers who loved The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Elizabeth is Missing or The Shock of the Fall. 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, 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... Only it's been two weeks now since he last visited, and she's starting to think he's not so different from all the rest. Then the boy's father comes, for some reason determined to finish his son's good deed. And Ona must show this new stranger that not only are there odd jobs to be done, but a life's ambition to complete...
Once in a while a novel comes along and touches your heart, in such a way that you don't even realise how it has touched you until you are left bereft that the novel has come to an end. The One in a Million Boy is such a novel.
Ona Vitkus is 104, and the recipient of help from her local scout troop in the form of an eleven year old boy, whom Ona refers to as 'the Boy'. Part of a community project, the Boy assists Ona with gardening, changing light bulbs, general odd jobs and house hold chores.
When he discovers Ona's age, the Boy is determined that he get her into the Guinness book of Records. He is obsessed with them, to him it is so much more than 'just a book'. His enthusiasm is infectious, but Ona is sceptical, even when he convinces her that he can help her obtain the record of 'oldest licensed driver'.
When the Boy fails to turn up one day as promised, Ona feels cheated, and stupid for believing that he was different from all the other Boy Scouts before him that had left her high and dry.
But then the Boy's Father, Quinn turns up to cover the Boys chores, and Ona realises that her instincts about the Boy were right.
Despite both of their efforts to dislike each other immediately, Ona and Quinn become good friends, and as time passes, we discover the reason for the sudden arrival of Quinn on Ona's doorstep...
Beautifully written, with wonderful characters, the One in a Million Boy is a novel that will stay with me for a very long time.
The One in a Million Boy is available from 5 April 2016
You can pre-order it now via Amazon online and Headline.
Thank you to the publishers who sent me an advance proof copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.