The One-in-a-Million Boy is absolutely charming, and I was sorry to have it end. I can't think of another book to compare it to, as it features the friendship of a ten-year-old boy (never named) and Ona Vitkus, a 104-year-old widow, still sharp and living alone.
As the book begins, the boy's father shows up at Ona's home to do the boy's volunteer tasks for his Boy Scout troop, and both the reader and Ona learn that this lovable and slightly autistic boy has died suddenly. Fortunately, one of his school assignments has been to write about an old person's life. So, as the book progresses, we get to read the tape recordings of their interviews, learning about Ona's long life, and about the connection between these two dear characters.
One of the boy's fascinations is world records, and the two scheme about the possibilities of Ona living long enough to end up in Guinness World Records. They also bond over identifying bird calls to earn a merit badge, and over renewing Ona's driver's license.
The boy's twice-divorced parents are important characters, as they grieve their son. The father Quinn has spent his working life as a guitar player in bands, and thus, was often absent from the boy's life. Through him, we meet other interesting characters: the young members of a Christian praise band, in which Quinn plays, as well as his old friends, who have played in bands together since they were young.
If this book sounds sad, it's not. In fact, in some places, I laughed out loud. Characters are kind and likable and earnest. Especially, the book comes to a satisfactory and touching conclusion. All the way through, I wondered if I should be prepared for the death of a 104-year-old character. I won't tell how the author handles the ending, but it is just right!
Joyce discovered this book as a $1.99 special for her Nook, which has made me look more carefully at the daily offerings on Book Bub and Riffle. I had never heard of the author or the title, but it was a wonderful book, carefully written and touching. Thanks so much for the recommendation, Joyce.