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Title: BooSpring Book Review Button
Author: Neil Smith
ISBN: 9780804171366
No. of Pages: 320
Genre: Literary Fiction
Origins: Vintage Contemporaries
Release Date: 19 May 2015


“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.”

Thoughts on the Novel: Poor Boo. He has not had an easy life. Not only does he have a heart defect that limits his ability to engage in activities, he is also different from his peers. Highly intelligent, he prefers learning over interacting with others. His social skills are practically nonexistent, and as happens so often with someone who does not fit societal norms, he is the victim of bullying. Often. However, that ends abruptly one day when he wakes up to find himself dead and in a place that is definitely not heaven. What follows is Boo’s investigation into the persons responsible for his death. Along the way, Boo also embarks on a journey of self-discovery that allows him to lay to rest some of the demons he never knew were haunting him.

Boo is one of those novels that is so good while in the midst of reading it but whose details sadly fade too quickly. Boo is a delightful and heartbreaking character, and his story is both poignant and chilling. Mr. Smith’s version of the afterlife is equally bleak but surprisingly effective upon reflection. Unfortunately, all of that fodder for discussion and reflection becomes moot when one cannot remember the details of the story a few weeks after finishing it. This is the most disappointing aspect of Boo, as the story really should be garnering more attention than it has.

Boo by Neil Smith

BOTTOM LINE: Poignant and beautiful but ultimately too forgettable for it to do the story justice.

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