Excerpt from The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Discuss |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The One-in-a-Million Boy

by Monica Wood

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood X
The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2016, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2017, 336 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

PART ONE
BROLIS (BROTHER)

This is Miss Ona Vitkus. This is her life story on tape. This is Part One.

 

Is it on?

...

I can't answer all these. We'll be here till doomsday.

...

I'll answer the first one, but that's it.

...

I was born in Lithuania. In the year nineteen hundred. I don't recall the place. I might have, oh, the vaguest recollection of some farm animals. A horse, or some other large beast. White, with spots.

...

Maybe a cow.

...

I have no idea what type of cows live in Lithuania. But I seem to recollect—you know those spotted dairy-type cows you see everywhere?

...

Holsteins. Thank you. Oh, and cherry trees. Lovely cherry trees that looked like soapsuds in the spring. Big, frothy, flowering things.

...

Then there was a long trip, and a ship's crossing. I remember that in pieces. You've got a million questions on that sheet—

...

Fifty, yes. Fine. I'm just saying, you don't have to ask them in order.

...

Because the story of your life never starts at the beginning. Don't they teach you anything in school?

 

  

CHAPTER 1

She was waiting for him—or someone—though he had not phoned ahead. "Where's the boy?" she called from her porch.

"Couldn't make it," he said. "You Mrs. Vitkus?" He'd come to fill her bird feeders and put out her trash and tender sixty minutes to the care of her property. He could do at least that.

She regarded him peevishly, her face a collapsed apple, drained of color but for the small, unsettling, seed-bright eyes. "My birds went hungry," she said. "I can't manage the ladder." Her voice suggested mashed glass.

"Mrs. Ona Vitkus? Forty-two Sibley Ave.?" He checked the address again; he'd taken two buses across town to get here. The green bungalow sat at the woodsy edge of a dead-end street, two blocks from a Lowe's and a few strides from a hiking trail. Standing in the driveway, Quinn could hear birds and traffic in equal measure.

"It's 'Miss,'" she said haughtily. He caught the faintest trace of an accent. The boy hadn't mentioned it. She'd probably staggered through Ellis Island with the huddled masses. "He didn't come last week, either," she said. "These boys don't stick to things."

"I can't help that," Quinn said, suddenly wary. He'd been led to expect a pink-cheeked charmer. The house resembled a witch's hovel, with its dreary flower beds and sharply pitched dormers and shingles the color of thatch.

"They're supposed to be teaching these boys about obedience. Prepared and kind and obedient ... kind and obedient and ..." She rapped herself lightly on the forehead.

"Clean," Quinn offered.

The boy was gone: clean gone. But Quinn couldn't bring himself to say it.

"Clean and reverent," the woman said. "That's what they promise. They pledge. I thought this one was the real McCoy." Another weak echo of accent: something brushy in the consonants, nothing an ordinary ear would pick up.

"I'm his father," Quinn said.

"I figured." She shifted inside her quilted parka. She also wore a hat with pompoms, though it was fifty-five degrees, late May, the sun beading down. "Is he sick?"

"No," Quinn said. "Where's the birdseed?"

The old woman shivered. Her stockinged legs looked like rake handles jammed into small black shoes. "Out back in the shed," she said. "Next to the door, unless the boy moved it. He gets his little notions. There's a ladder there, too. You're tall. You might not need it." She sized Quinn up as if considering a run at his clothes.

  • 1
  • 2

Excerpted from The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood. Copyright © 2017 by Monica Wood. Excerpted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: An American Summer
    An American Summer
    by Alex Kotlowitz
    As a Chicagoan, I've become used to the most common reactions when I'm traveling and tell someone ...
  • Book Jacket: The Sun Is a Compass
    The Sun Is a Compass
    by Caroline Van Hemert
    Caroline Van Hemert fell in love with her future husband, Pat, in 2001, discovering they shared a ...
  • Book Jacket: Women Talking
    Women Talking
    by Miriam Toews
    Miriam Toews' Women Talking is a circadian novel, unfolding over a span of just a few hours and ...
  • Book Jacket: Confessions of an Innocent Man
    Confessions of an Innocent Man
    by David R. Dow
    It is circumstance that carries the wave that sweeps trendy Houston restaurateur Rafael Zhettah to ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    When We Left Cuba
    by Chanel Cleeton

    An exhilarating historical novel from the author of Next Year in Havana, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    D-Day Girls
    by Sarah Rose

    The dramatic story of the extraordinary women recruited by Britain's elite spy agency to help pave the way for Allied victory.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
Fly Girls
by Keith O'Brien

How five daring women defied all odds and made aviation history.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Book Club Giveaway!
Win Women Rowing North

The instant New York Times bestseller

A guide to wisdom, authenticity, and bliss for women as they age.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A B Penny A T U

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.