The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

This was recommended to me by a friend. In addition, it won a Newbery Honor Award in 2019. I also made Miss Adventure read it since it’s historical fiction set in medieval times (which we’ve been studying all year).

Published: 2018

Genre: middle grade historical fantasy

Length: 278 pages

Setting: medieval France and Italy

Font: Hoefler Text

Summary: Short version: Boy’s journey to gather six relics of St. Peter

Long version: A Pilgrim has come to the Manor where Boy lives. This Pilgrim, Secundus, asks the lady of the Manor (just the Cook who married the Lord when everyone else died of pestilence) if Boy could accompany him to the next city. Boy is a hunchback and unlucky, so of course she said yes. It seems that Secundus is on a mission to collect seven relics of St. Peter and return them to his tomb. Secundus is trying to redeem himself. Boy is more than willing to help return the relics to their proper location. When he finds out that the relics can only be obtained by stealing, he’s not so sure, but he goes along with it.

Final thoughts: What started out as a standard middle grade historical fiction made a surprising twist into fantasy half-way through the book. Boy, the narrator, is a hunchback, so he’s been tormented for as long as he could remember. Only animals were nice to him. He’s not very pleased to be sent off with Secundus. He gets drawn into the quest, though, but Secundus’ humanity. Secundus just wants to rejoin his family in Heaven. He didn’t protect the weak from the strong when he was alive, and got sent to Hell when he died. He was there long enough to figure out how to sneak out, helped by the the Black Plague and all the deaths it caused. But, because he’s one of the damned, he can’t handle the relics he’s trying to collect. Boy can. Bay can even recognize a true relic by its warmth. Boy is thrilled because when he carries the pack of relics, his hump is hidden and he looks like a regular boy. On the journey, he notices feathers sprouting from his hump. Those feathers turn into wings. Turns out Boy isn’t really a boy. He’s an angel. When that fact became apparent, I had to reevaluate everything that came before. It explained the beautiful curls, his lack of eating or peeing, his wings, and his ability to talk to animals. He just wants to be a regular boy, at least until he really thinks about it. He does realize there are advantages to being an angel. Plus, he can still do the work of helping people as an angel.

Title comes from: The narrator’s name is Boy and it’s all about his journey

Reading challenges fulfilled: book #47 for 2019

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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