Book Review: The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Boy has always lived on the outskirts of his village in medieval France. As a boy who is hunchbacked with a tendency to talk to animals, he is often mocked and abused by other kids around him. That is, until a pilgrim named Secondus arrives. He is impressed with Boy's ability to climb and jump and asks him to be his servant on his journey to find seven relics of St. Peter. As the journey begins, Boy realizes that not all of Secondus' requests are innocent. They steal their way around Europe on their way to Rome. Boy, however sees it through for the chance to find out if St. Peter can make his hump go away and officially make him a normal boy.
The Book of Boy is set in the year 1350 in Medieval Europe when many Christians made a pilgrimage to Rome. The theme of this book is very heavily set in the religious aspect of this time period and the length Christians would go to on their pilgrimages to see Holy relics and stand where the apostles bodies are laid. I liked seeing this world through the eyes of Boy who throughout the book is full of wonder and awe at everything he sees and experiences. He is a wonderful character who despite his outward appearance, relishes in living life and helping others. He doesn't let what other's say bother him to the point of giving up.
Secondus' journey through the book was a great part of the story as well. As a reader I was really put off and suspicious of his motives at first. However, I grew to like him as a character as the story progressed. I realized that without Secondus taking Boy away from his daily life, Boy would never have found out his true meaning in this world and learned the lesson he did. As the story builds to the end, it becomes more and more surprising and at times left me wondering how it would end for both Boy and Secondus.
The Book of Boy is a middle grade novel and would be well received by kids ages 9-12. Take time to use the discussion questions in the back of the book and have a conversation with your child or book club.