The One in a Million Boy, by Monica Wood

Miss Ona Vitkus has lived unobtrusively, her secrets fiercely protected for over a century. A boy, with his passion for world records, changes all that. He is eleven. She is 104. He makes her feel like she might be really special after all.

Only it’s been a fortnight since he last visited and Ona is starting to think he’s no different from all the others. Then the boy’s father arrives. Ona must show this new stranger that not only are there odd jobs to be done, but a life’s ambition to complete.

The One in a Million Boy is one of those stories that you simultaneously devour because it is so good, and mourn because you don’t want it to finish. While it is a lengthy tome, it won’t weigh you down or become a drag.

Ona and the boy are beautiful, special souls. Together they have a wonderful bond and together they make a stellar team. The boy is socially awkward but so very lovable. Together he and Ona bond over their hardships – a child that died young, an unloving marriage and an adopted baby, alongside an absent father, childhood bullying and divorce.

However, even more special is the incredible relationship that blossoms between the boy’s father Quinn and Ona. Quinn is a delinquent and an absent father, hell-bent on making up for it in his own way. Together they save each other in the most lovely and touching way. It is a sad, heartbreaking but uplifting and sweet story.

Wood has a way of slowly revealing tidbits about her characters in a gentle, natural way. She will have you rooting for all of them, even if you want to dislike them. Throughout the entire story each character – including Quinn’s twice-ex wife – learns something important about themselves, learns that they are valued and ultimately, finds hope.

It is a gorgeous story that will make you think about how extraordinary ordinary life can be.

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TITLE: The One in a Million Boy
AUTHOR(S): Monica Wood
PUBLISHER: Hachette
RRP: $34.99
ISBN: 9781472228369

Rebekah is an Otago-based mother of two young girls. The former journalist and primary school teacher has a soft spot for New Zealand authors and young adult fiction. Follow her on Twitter.

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