Summary and book reviews of Boo by Neil Smith

Boo

by Neil Smith

Boo by Neil Smith
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    May 2015, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Darcie R.J. Abbene

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Book Summary

Hilarious and heartwarming, poignant and profound, Boo is a unique look at the bonds of friendship in what is, ultimately, a book about finding your place in the world - be it this one, or the next.

Do you ever wonder, dear Mother and Father, what kind of toothpaste angels use in heaven? I will tell you... This book I am writing to you about my afterlife will be your nitty-gritty. One day I hope to discover a way to deliver my story to you.

It is the first week of school in 1979, and Oliver "Boo" Dalrymple - ghostly pale eighth grader; aspiring scientist; social pariah - is standing next to his locker, reciting the periodic table. The next thing he knows, he finds himself lying in a strange bed in a strange land. He is a new resident of a place called Town - an afterlife exclusively for thirteen-year-olds. Soon Boo is joined by Johnny Henzel, a fellow classmate, who brings with him a piece of surprising news about the circumstances of the boys' deaths.

In Town, there are no trees or animals, just endless rows of redbrick dormitories surrounded by unscalable walls. No one grows or ages, but everyone arrives just slightly altered from who he or she was before. To Boo's great surprise, the qualities that made him an outcast at home win him friends; and he finds himself capable of a joy he has never experienced. But there is a darker side to life after death - and as Boo and Johnny attempt to learn what happened that fateful day, they discover a disturbing truth that will have profound repercussions for both of them.

Hilarious and heartwarming, poignant and profound, Boo is a unique look at the bonds of friendship in what is, ultimately, a book about finding your place in the world - be it this one, or the next.

1. H.

Do you ever wonder, dear Mother and Father, what kind of toothpaste angels use in heaven? I will tell you. We use baking soda sprinkled on our toothbrushes. It tastes salty, which comes as no surprise because baking soda is a kind of salt known as sodium bicarbonate. 

You never wonder about toothpaste in heaven, do you? After all, you are agnostic. But even believers seldom ponder the nitty-gritty of their afterlife. Thinking of heaven, they imagine simply a feeling of love and a sense of peace. They do not consider whether the pineapple they eat here will be fresh or come from a can. (We actually receive both kinds, though certainly more canned than fresh.) 

This book I am writing to you about my afterlife will be your nitty-gritty. One day I hope to discover a way to deliver my story to you. 

As you know, I died in front of my locker at Helen Keller Junior High on September 8, 1979, which was exactly one month ago today. Before I died, I had been reciting the ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

This story is one of second chances and new beginnings, of coming of age, and realizing that maybe you don’t know everything you think you do. Boo and his friends' journey is one you want to discover.   (Reviewed by Darcie R.J. Abbene).

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Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The story is never about providing solid answers, but readers who appreciate that sort of ambiguity will find that the emotional payoffs are both surprising and moving.

Kirkus Reviews

Smith is often amusing in cute and clever ways, but there's a slyer, more satisfying humor in the twins Tim and Tom Lu, who owe something to Lewis Carroll's Tweedledum and -dee. The book's often earnest trip over the rainbow could have used more of that.

Reader Reviews

Lil Finch

Boo
Really good book. Way better than I thought it would be.

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Beyond the Book

Smells Like a Teen

Cartoon of Body OdorNearly every character in Neil Smith's novel, Boo, is thirteen. Take a moment to remember back to when you were thirteen. First you might recall the sight of your thirteen-year-old self and your friends, maybe your old school. And then it hits you: that smell. It might not have been your body odor that so pungently fills the memory in your nose but rest assured, there was absolutely some unlucky and smelly soul who…well…stunk. In Boo, that character is Johnny Henzel. He is well liked, athletic, a little angry about his death, and constantly described as having an oniony body odor. Many kids are able to rise above a fetid blight like foul body odor, like Johnny, but some kids do not. The question remains, why does some ...

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