Review & Int. #Giveaway: The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood

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 . . . 

The One-in-a-Million Boy has been compared favourably to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and that immediately caught my attention as I adored Harold Fry, and have never read another book that even remotely made me feel similar to how that book did. This book deserves the comparison and it is every bit as wonderful.

It’s a remarkable tale of a young boy scout who has been assigned to Miss Ona Viktus to help her every Saturday throughout the summer. Miss Viktus is quick to judge the boys sent to her and often finds them wanting. This boy surprises her and she ends up being very taken with him. However, one day he fails to show up and after two missed Saturdays Ona starts to think she was mistaken and that he is just the same as all the rest. Then, after a fortnight, the boy’s father arrives to do his son’s work and so begins this beautiful exploration of a boy’s life, and a healing process for many of the people left behind.

I have to say that I completely and utterly fell in love with this novel, it is so beautiful. I wasn’t expecting it to be such an emotional read, but it both broke my heart and mended it.

The boy is such a wonderful character, he is only in the book for a short time and yet he is in it the whole way through. He is a larger than life boy who had so much to offer the world, he is often misunderstood but is actually so clever. He sees the world in a slightly different way, and he is obsessed with order and counting but his insights stopped me in my tracks at times.

The boy’s innocence combined with Ona’s age and life experience makes for a wonderful pairing. He gives Ona a new lease of life when he decides that he will find a world record that she can break. It becomes his mission to find one that can be hers and together they embark on this task. The boy also has to write a paper for school and decides to interview Miss Viktus about her life because she is 104 and he is sure that no one in his class will find someone older than her to speak to. There are segments running through the novel of Ona’s recorded interview – but only her side as while the boy was present he didn’t want to speak on tape. This makes for a real insight into Ona’s life but one that really brings you up short at times as the simplicity of the way she says things belies some of the heartbreaking things that she has experienced in her life. It’s possible to read so much into her responses as the boy has obviously whispered a question to her. 

The boy’s father, Quinn, enters Ona’s life in a grudging way, seeing it as both a form of punishment and a way of making up a lifetime of being a mostly absent father. Quinn and On a eventually come to accept each other and become friends of a sort. Quinn is trying to absolve himself of all the things he’s got wrong and Ona, having experienced loss herself comes to understand what has made quinn the way he is.

This is such a well-written novel. It’s so clever how the boy is never named and yet by the end you feel as if you know him, as if he is a real person you know. It’s a poignant reminder that even the more invisible people in society have something to contribute, and something to leave behind when they go.

The novel is beautiful and moving, I was in tears reading the last chapter. The One-in-a-Million Boy really does leave a lasting legacy of hope; it shows how we can overcome grief and tragedy, how we can atone for our sins, and how we can find happiness again when we think it is gone forever. It is a novel that will make you laugh, it will make you think about your own life and your loved ones but it is never mawkish. It is written in the ordered way the boy would have approved off and it manages to avoid the sentimentalism that Ona so disliked. It’s ultimately all about love and loss and redemption.

I rate this book 5 out of 5 and my copy will now have pride of place on my all-time favourites bookcase. I already want to go back and read this novel again, I miss the boy and Ona already!

The One-in-a-Million Boy is published today and available from all good book shops.


To celebrate this wonderful novel I’m running a giveaway for one brand new hardback copy of The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood; it’s an international giveaway so is open to everyone. Please click the link below to enter:

Giveaway of The One-in-a-Million Boy!




64 thoughts on “Review & Int. #Giveaway: The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

  1. Hmmm… Which world record would I try? Probably a readathon. See how long and how many books I could read one after the other. Just because I don’t feel I have enough time at the moment. This sounds like a lovely book.

  2. Gorgeous cover! I can’t wait to have a copy of this book. Thank you for this giveway. 🙂

      • Oh ho, there are many more of us to compete with you on that one!
        Have you found that when moving house, decluttering, etc, books can be the hardest things to cut down on, or get rid of? Also that you want to give the books to someone who will enjoy them as you do rather than throw them away? How do they get that hold on us? Oh I know the psychological reasons but I think there’s some other explanation?!

        • Yes, I bet there are! 🙂 I’m terrible at getting rid of books – I’ve often said that when I first moved in with my then-boyfriend-now-husband I knew how much he loved me when he carried boxes carrying a total of around three thousand books up to the second floor apartment (the building had no lift) and never once complained! He then bought me new bookcases so I could put all my books on shelves. I never throw books away – I pass them on to friends/family or give them to charity. I did get rid of loads of books when we bought our house as it’s smaller and we needed to be able to move around but I still have more books than a lot of people. Now I struggle to get rid of proof copies I receive for review… I think it’s part sentimental as we remember how we felt when we read each book, and part a fear of running out of books to read (which is irrational as in this day and age it’s so easy to download a new book anytime of the day but the fear still remains!).

  3. Oh this is a good question, I was going to say how many books I can have on my kindle but I’m in good company here. I love the sound of this novel, quite enjoying quirky, relationship reads at the moment.

    • Great answer! I would go for that record too. 🙂 It’s a gorgeous book, I adored it. I don’t often re-read books these days but I’ll definitely be holding on to my copy and reading it again in the future.

  4. It sounds like my kind of book; different but moving, one my heart will bond with. It will be a miracle if I win it.

  5. I think my husband would suggest I go for being able to tell a story without taking a breath! Maybe I could try for that when writing a story?!

    • To be honest I knew I’d enjoy it but I didn’t expect it to get to me the way that it did. I just completely and utterly adored it – I couldn’t fault it at all. If you do decide to read it I hope you enjoy it.

  6. I think I could break the world record for how quickly you can make a 500ml tub of Ben & Jerry’s disappear! Honestly if one of those finds their way to my possession they do not last long at all. It’s just too good! Book sounds amazing 🙂 Rosie x

    • Thank you. Harold Fry was just such a perfect story, I still think about it and it’s a long time since I read it. I’m not always convinced when one book is described as being like another but I can see why these are being compared, they have similar themes running through them.

  7. Hmm a world record, is there one for absolute lack of will power when it comes to having so many books but unable to stop getting more 🙂 Thank goodness for kindles – although think that may be encouraging my habit! Great review x

    • Ha! I think I could easily go for that record too, I buy books so much faster than I can read them because I just can’t resist. I think Kindles encourage the habit but at least Kindle books don’t take over your house. Thank you 🙂 x

      • Totally true, I tell myself that all my unread books on kindle are just waiting for when I’m on holiday or something, but I haven’t been on holiday for 2 years so they’re just accumulating. All the covers shout “Read me, read me, read me!”

        • I wrote a blog post recently about my realisation that I keep books for best – i.e. the right time. For a holiday, for when I can read all day, for a day when I need cheering up, etc etc but there are now so many of them that I just never get to them. I badly want to read them all but I’ve had a lot of them for so long there’s huge pressure on to get that magic right moment. I’m trying to think of a way to challenge myself to read them all!

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  9. I think I could break the World Record for amount of cups of tea drunk/drank in one day, or possibly the amount of times I moan about something hehe.

  10. I can probably break the world record regarding something totally unrelated to books: walking into things/injuring myself. A blind person would have better coordination than me. It’s one of the reasons why I’m hesitant to try the ‘reading while walking’-thing…

    Great review and such a gorgeous cover!

  11. Great review! Now I’ll definitely read this one. 🙂

    For the world record, I’ll just go for eating a gallon of ice cream in 5 mins since it’s summer here. 🙂

  12. I could probably have the World record for a person who have the biggest eyebags from reading too much books resulting to lack of sleep therefore the eyebags . 🙂

      • Are you me? It sounds like you’re my double when it comes to book stuff, reading in bed, etc etc etc. Perhaps we should start a club for book addicts except it would only pretend to break us from the habit, as no-one would want to;) It’s too satisfying and doesn’t ruin our or others lives, does it?

        • Haha! We do seem very similar! It’s definitely a habit that I don’t want to break. As you say, it’s not hurting anyone and it’s a good habit to have. I always say that I don’t drink or smoke so any spare cash (or birthday or Christmas money etc) goes on books and even if I have more books than I can read, it’s not a bad habit to have.

  13. I’d like trying to break the World Record (if there’s already) of the fastest eater of strawberries. I’m sure the fastest in the house.

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  16. I would like to try a world record for simultaneously reading and eating giant chocolate buttons. I’m pretty sure I could keep the momentum up for a good long while ☺️

  17. Sounds like such an amazing book, really have to add this to my reading pile regardless of the giveaway – you’ve really written a wonderful review, thank you for sharing it with us 🙂 x

    • Thank you so much, that’s really kind of you to say. It is such a beautiful novel, I still keep thinking of the characters and I finished it over a couple of weeks ago now. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did when you read it.

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