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In me are the memories of a boy's life, spent in that realm of enchantments These are the things I want to tell you Robert McCammon delivers a tour de force of storytelling BookPage in his awardwinning masterpiece, a novel of Southern boyhood, growing up in the s, that reaches far beyond that evocative landscape to touch readers universally Boy's Life is a richly imagined, spellbinding portrait of the magical worldview of the youngand of innocence lost Zephyr, Alabama, is an idyllic hometown for elevenyearold Cory Mackensona place where monsters swim the river deep and friends are forever Then, one cold spring morning, Cory and his father witness a car plunge into a lakeand a desperate rescue attempt brings his father facetoface with a terrible, haunting vision of death As Cory struggles to understand his father's pain, his eyes are slowly opened to the forces of good and evil that surround him From an ancient mystic who can hear the dead and bewitch the living, to a violent clan of moonshiners, Cory must confront the secrets that hide in the shadows of his hometownfor his father's sanity and his own life hang in the balance

10 thoughts on “Boy's Life

  1. Char Char says:

    There is no way that any review could live up to this book. It is utterly fabulous. It reels you in and never lets you go. It will bring back every good memory that you had while growing up. The feeling of freedom you experienced riding your bike, exploring wooded areas and just generally being a kid.
    One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from this book:

    We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God's sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they'd allowed to wither in themselves.

    Do yourself a favor. Read this book. Get a little of that magic back.

  2. Mort Mort says:

    I have neither the words nor the talent to adequately describe what this book did to me. It should be on your bucket list, no matter who you are.

    On the surface, this book is a murder mystery. Forget the minimal supernatural elements, it plays a much smaller part than you might think.
    It's a coming-of-age story about a twelve year old boy, Cory Mackenson, growing up in a town called Zephyr in the early sixties. And the story begins with him and his father, witnessing the aftermath of a murder and the killer's attempt to hide it.
    And, BAM, you find yourself in a different world.

    It takes an exceptional writer to tell this story in 600 pages without boring the reader. This book is truly a masterpiece of literature - simply because of the feelings it invokes in the reader.

    So, what happens in this story?
    Everything! Absolutely EVERYTHING!

    Allow me to explain.
    I was 17 years old when I read IT by Stephen King - a daunting task with a book of more than a thousand pages. King managed to take me back a few years, to connect with a younger, freer and naiver me. Those memories were still fresh in my mind and I had no difficulty going along with the ride. Not only could I relate with those characters, I could connect to them on a personal level.

    Twenty five years later I read BOY'S LIFE, and, for the life of me, I can't believe I'd forgotten so much about those feelings I had as a young man. But during these last two weeks, I've felt things I didn't know still existed inside me. For the last two weeks, I felt that magic again - I'm certain it's to a much lesser extent than in my youth, but this is the closest I have come to it in my adult life.

    This story covers all the important stuff:
    Ignorance vs. Tolerance
    Love vs. Hate
    Anger vs. Fear
    Hope vs. Pessimism
    Grief vs. Acceptance
    Grudges vs. Forgiveness
    Bullies vs. Victims
    Loss vs. Grace

    There were so many situations in this book which transformed me back to my youth. Times have changed, as they always will...I have changed, as any adult does.

    It also saddens me a little, to look at my son (almost 4), and to think about the things he will never know in his life. He is growing up in a different world than I did, especially if you look at the age gap, will he be able to relate to this book when he is older?

    I'm a bit emotional as I write this, I might change this review in the future. For now, this is one of the best books I've ever read, it will rate in my top 5 for sure. I hope that everybody will grant themselves the chance to go on this journey.

  3. Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin says:

    Update: $1.99 Kindle US 9/21/19

    I am almost at a loss of words about this book. It is one of my favorites now. I thought it was going to be just about a mystery of who murdered someone and and father and son trying to find out the mystery!

    Even though it was a little before my time all of the things that happened in Corys childhood is so familiar growing up hearing all of the stories from family. Granted a lot of the same things were in my childhood but I digress.

    I loved the mystery that went on throughout the book and finally getting to the end game of it all.

    I have laughed and cried during this book. Some parts even made my heart soar and also plummet at the atrocities of evil people.

    This book has a little of so many things. I recommend it to every one.

  4. Elyse Walters Elyse Walters says:

    I QUIT!!!
    I can't stand this book any longer! I mean ....I REALLY can't stand it!!!!!

    After about 4 hours of my time listening to the Audiobook...I'm DONE!!!
    I don't care what the hell happens -- I can't remember when I've completely disliked a book more

    The guys voice on the Audiobook sounds condescending to me most of the time.
    Other times the writing itself is too syrupy sweet.
    I was bored to death -- I felt everything was OVER-DESCRIBED. My God....I didn't care if the door was shiny. If the damn door was dull it would have been ok with me. Better yet, I was getting resentful with all this boys interpretation about every piece of furniture-his mother's or father's differences.....
    ( and his fricken wisdom about how his parents differences made for a good marriage).
    I could have cared less about the spots of turtles ( as a metaphor for the truth)....

    OMG.... and there were TOO MANY metaphors in this book. I was starting to get physically sick...and pissed off!!!

    I didn't care about his bike riding or his going to the movies to eat candy and popcorn...

    And I HATED the whimsical magical Philosophy of life from this 12-year-old kid.

    Boring - long- tedious - pretentious descriptions-

    NOT FOR ME!!!!

  5. Shelby *trains flying monkeys* Shelby *trains flying monkeys* says:

    This is one of those books that I've beat myself over the head with how to rate it.
    I'm going with five stars because it's a book I will remember. I think some of the story felt familiar to me because other author's have been influenced by this writing. And there is not a thing wrong with that, because this was superb.

    It follows eleven year old Cory for a full year in his life. The 1960's growing up in a small town. A town that magic existed in. I had some trouble I do admit with some parts of the story. (view spoiler)[The boys flying? I mean I know it was in their imagination but I did not feel that went with the rest of the story...and the dog? WTH? (hide spoiler)]

  6. Petrik Petrik says:

    A magnificent coming-of-age standalone.

    Fantasy and sci-fi will always be my favorite genres to read. I’m not ashamed to say that I haven’t read a lot of novels outside SFF; mainly because I found the popular and the highly acclaimed non-SFF books that I've read so far to be mostly disappointing or just not satisfying enough. However, there will always be that rare occurrence where I pick up a random book outside of my favorite genre and realized that I have been transported by a magical portal. Boy’s Life was that kind of book; it grabbed my full attention since the prologue and it still dazzled me after I finished it.

    Picture: Boy’s Life by David Ho

    I’m almost 30 years old now and reading this book as an adult simply hit my feelings on all front. I was transported to my childhood for a while. Maybe I should’ve read this book when I was young to understand the importance of childhood and growing up; to appreciate the fleeting and short moment of that time.

    “Don’t be in a hurry to grow up. Hold on to being a boy as long as you can, because once you lose that magic, you’re always begging to find it again.”

    But I also know that I was just a boy. I know that I wouldn’t be able to appreciate how incredible and impactful this book if I’ve read it as a kid instead of now. Childhood to me is a period of time that shine the brightest in contemplation. Except for homework and exams, freedom was given in abundance, I just didn’t know it back then. It’s only through the telescope of adulthood, age, and restriction from the invisible chains of responsibilities that the gravitas and happiness of childhood became meaningful; the constant accumulation of experience and hardship growing up made reading this book an irreplaceable experience. I have forgotten a lot of events from my childhood, some still stand out. The one that stands out was the simple things done in repetition. Sleeping over at friends’ or cousin’s house, learning and riding a bicycle, caring for your pets, being late to school, just the simple things. When we’re kids, we're most likely to be protected by our parents from the burden and brutality of the world that exist; adulthood means we’re the one who does the protecting.

    What’s the point of me saying all this? Here’s why. Boy’s Life made me lived that period of time while retaining the knowledge and experience I have accumulated to understand the importance and beauty of childhood. For ten hours, I was back to being a boy. The book was so beautifully written and the characters really get under my skin. Our eyes were lenses that reflected magic and wonder in everything we saw, we allowed our imagination to wonder and came up with an impossible situation that if we talk about it as an adult, we’ll most likely be called insane.

    “Maybe crazy is what they call anybody who's got magic in them after they're no longer a child.”

    Boy’s Life was published in 1991 and yet it still managed to resonate easily with me, a reader who read it for the first time in 2018. It has won many awards but it should’ve won more. I don’t know if this book can be classified as a classic but it should be. It’s a timeless lesson on life, death, hardship, racism, reality, appreciation, faith, and growing up.

    “No one ever grows up. They may look grown-up, but it's just the clay of time. Men and women are still children deep in their hearts.

    Magic, horror, mystery were evident but they’re not really the main focus of the book. The main driving force was the wonder of childhood that can be found in almost every paragraph. It was a beautifully well-told story full of poignancy; a classic and a new addition to one of my favorite standalone (that’s not part of a series) books of all time.

    If you want to regain the forgotten magic in you, Boy’s Life is a magical portal that will transport you to the past even if you're reading this for the first time. And if you’re still not sure about giving this book a go, I’ll close this review with a passage from the prologue. It’s a long one but if you find this passage heartwarming or lovely to read, trust me that it’s very probable that you will have a wonderful and magical time with this book.

    “You know, I do believe in magic. I was born and raised in a magic time, in a magic town, among magicians. Oh, most everybody else didn’t realize we lived in that web of magic, connected by silver filaments of chance and circumstance. But I knew it all along. When I was twelve years old, the world was my magic lantern, and by its green spirit glow I saw the past, the present and into the future. You probably did too; you just don’t recall it. See, this is my opinion: we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allowed to wither in themselves.

    After you go so far away from it, though, you can’t really get it back. You can have seconds of it. Just seconds of knowing and remembering. When people get weepy at movies, it’s because in that dark theater the golden pool of magic is touched, just briefly. Then they come out into the hard sun of logic and reason again and it dries up, and they’re left feeling a little heartsad and not knowing why. When a song stirs a memory, when motes of dust turning in a shaft of light takes your attention from the world, when you listen to a train passing on a track at night in the distance and wonder where it might be going, you step beyond who you are and where you are. For the briefest of instants, you have stepped into the magic realm.

    That’s what I believe.

    The truth of life is that every year we get farther away from the essence that is born within us. We get shouldered with burdens, some of them good, some of them not so good. Things happen to us. Loved ones die. People get in wrecks and get crippled. People lose their way, for one reason or another. It’s not hard to do, in this world of crazy mazes. Life itself does its best to take that memory of magic away from us. You don’t know it’s happening until one day you feel you’ve lost something but you’re not sure what it is. It’s like smiling at a pretty girl and she calls you “sir.” It just happens.

    These memories of who I was and where I lived are important to me. They make up a large part of who I’m going to be when my journey winds down. I need the memory of magic if I am ever going to conjure magic again. I need to know and remember, and I want to tell you.”

    Read this amazing book! That’s all.

    You can buy the book with free shipping by clicking this link!

    You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions

  7. Dan Schwent Dan Schwent says:

    While riding with his father on the milk route, Cory Mackenson witnesses a car plunging into a bottomless lake with a dead man handcuffed to the steering wheel. Will they figure out who the man was before the memory destroys them?

    Yeah, that's not a great teaser for this. How do you summarize a couple years in the life of a young boy?

    I tried hard not to like this book. For the first quarter of it, it wasn't hard. Boy's Life feels overwritten for what it is and Robert McCammon was trying so hard to write like Stephen King that you could taste it. I thought about tossing it back on the to-read mountain. Then it grabbed me. I wolfed it down in less than 24 hours.

    While it has some crime and horror elements, Boy's Life is a coming of age tale more than anything else. It reminded me of Stephen King's The Body (aka Stand by Me) at first, but it's a lot more than that.

    Cory is eleven when the story begins, growing up in a small Alabama town called Zephyr. While the mysterious dead man in Saxon Lake kicks off the tale, it's really about Cory getting older and world-weary in Zephyr. Since the story takes place in the early 1960's, the civil rights movement and Vietnam are lurking in the background, as are the rise of corporations.

    Cory's adventures with his pals were a lot of fun but also harrowing at times. I loved the beast from the lost word and Nemo Curliss. For a twelve year old, Cory was sure in the middle of a lot of weirdness, though. The bit with Rebel added this book to my man-tears shelf. Was Vernon Thaxter a stand-in for McCammon himself?

    I thought about giving this a five but couldn't. While I enjoyed the book immensely, I felt like parts of it were cobbled together from various Stephen King tales, like The Body, Christine, Pet Semetery, and others. Also, it seemed excessively wordy for what it was at times, like I mentioned at the beginning.

    All things considered, Boy's Life was a great read. Four out of five stars.

  8. Sadie Hartmann Mother Horror Sadie Hartmann Mother Horror says:

    You know, it's a weighty thing when you've read as many books as I have over my 41 years of life and you finish a book that becomes your new favorite of all time.
    I never thought I'd read anything that impressed me as much as a Stephen King book. I mean, for a long time Salem's Lot was the gold standard, then it was The Shining, then IT. My favorite book for many, many years was IT. Until just now.
    Boy's Life is my new favorite, standalone novel.
    It's literally everything.
    It's an adventure, it's a mystery, it's a thriller, it's paranormal, it's supernatural, it's a coming of age tale, it's nostalgic and modern at the same time. It's personal and intimate but it's also a book for everyone. The protagonist, Cory and his dad, remind me of the father/son relationship in Roald Dahl's Danny, the Champion of the World, one of my most beloved stories.
    There are so many memorable scenes and lovable characters. There are quotes for DAYS! I couldn't keep up with them all. There were times when I laughed out loud and I'd tell my family what happened.
    There was one time where my hubby was making dinner in the kitchen and I was sobbing, reading a scene that near killed me--it just stopped my heart and I was bursting. My husband came in and was like, Oh no, what's wrong, what happened...I told him and he let me cry on his shoulder while he laughed at me for crying over fictional characters.
    I kept stopping after like 50 pages because I knew the more that I read, the closer I would be to finishing and I never wanted it to end.
    But it won't end will it? Not for me, because I'll read this one a dozen more times and cherish it always. A beloved favorite story of all time. Thank you Mr. McCammon.

  9. Em Lost In Books Em Lost In Books says:

    This was the monthly read of a group that I am a member of. This is also the first book that I completed under my resolution of reading atleast one book of the monthly read of my groups. I was a little hesitant reading it (specially after the disaster of The Ocean at the End of the Lane). But this book was nothing like that. In every sense it is better than that. It just left me spellbound.

    Story captures a whole year of a boy's life named Cory Mackerson. While reading the book I couldn't help but going back to my own memories of class room, stupid chatter with friends, that excitement before the summer vacations and bicycle adventures. If you'll read this I am sure you will relate yourself to Cory in one way or other.

    This story so beautifully shows emotions for a 12 year old. Be it love, happiness, elation, thrill, mystery, nightmares, pain or death.

    Even after all these beautiful things this book remains a murder mystery to be solved. Solving the mystery from a 12 year's POV was amazing.

    This sure is going to my favorite and re-read shelf.

    So just go ahead and read this beautiful story.

  10. Matthew Matthew says:

    This was a very good book with two main plot lines and a separate smaller plot in almost every chapter. It reminded me of, and I have read this comparison elsewhere as well, Different Seasons era Stephen King.

    One of the great things about this book is that it perfectly embodies pre-pubecent innocence and coming of age. I was discussing this in one of my book clubs and we talked about how the main characters had yet to reach the the point of disenchanted teenagers driven by angst and hormones while at the same time having to step up and accept the realities of adulthood.

    Another oddity of this book is that every few pages something mystical and wild happens and it is never hinted at as being part of the narrator's imagination; it is completely integrated into the story. It leads to some very interesting questions and blows the mind.

    While this is a long book, it may read quickly for some. If you are a fan of early King and/or character study books, this should be right up your alley.