Boy’s Life (1991) – Robert McCammon

I remember reading this book in paperback when it first came out. It was summer, and I was in Toronto working to save (a little) money for my post secondary education. I was delighted in the nostalgia in it, and recalled being moved by the tale within its pages.

When I came across it in one of the little libraries that pop up on corners and yards I decided I would really like to read it again, especially since I could barely recall any of the plot, only knowing that I had enjoyed the book immensely.

And this time around I got more out of it than I did last time, as I know I’m older than I was then, and that I look back on some of my own life with nostalgia now as well.

We join Cory Mackenson in the year 1964, he’s on the cusp of thirteen and the small town he’s gown up in, Zephyr, Alabama, seems picturesque at first glance, but this is the 60s, racial tensions are high, even here, and in one moment, both he and his father realize that their home town isn’t as safe as they thought.


His father, Tom, dives into the lake to save a driver in a crashed car, and what he finds there shakes him to the core, and plunges Cory into a mystery, But he’s also just a boy, and gets swept up in summer, and bikes, arrowheads, buddies, monsters, magic, and telling stories.

Over the course of a year we join Cory, his friends, family, and his town as they begin to realize that things change, that their small town isn’t as picturesque as they thought, and there can be real monsters hiding in the shadows.

There are Saturdays at the local movie theater for a double feature, bullies to confront, new kids in town, and the fair. There is so much recognizable from my own childhood, and stories I’ve heard from my mom, and of course, the king of nostalgia in text form, Stephen King.

I don’t want to give away any of the plot, any of the little stories, and of the moments, because they all come together to form a tapestry of a time and place that no longer exists, and no matter how we remember our own past, through rose-colored glasses, it’s only a small slice of what was really happening at the time- makes me wonder how much stuff I missed growing up as I pursued my own magic and friendships.

Check this one out if you haven’t yet. It’s a fun and beautiful novel.



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