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This is the perfect read for the outcasts, nerds & others that just don't fit in. Quirky and full of good humor, this novel speaks to the issues of bullying, violence and forgiveness unlike any other book I've read.
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.
About the Author
Neil Smith is a French to English translator who lives in Montreal. His first book, the story collection Bang Crunch, was published around the world to critical acclaim and was chosen as one of the best books of the year by the Globe and Mail and the Washington Post. Boo is his first novel.
“Original, wickedly funny and avoiding overt sentimentality, Smith’s writing is consistently assured. As Boo matures and learns the value of mercy, forgiveness and friendship in a strange democratic heaven, his story proves both moving and surprisingly hopeful.” —Financial Times
“Instantly charming, never predictable, quietly profound—Boo is both literarily and literally haunting and, in the end, devastating.” —Bryan Lee O’Malley, author of Seconds and the Scott Pilgrim series
“A coming of age tale flipped on its head, with a subtle depth and poignancy. Readers will feel torn between sadness and hopefulness throughout the story, and by the end just may feel the urge to go hug their loved ones.” —The Rumpus
“Imagine that heaven was segregated by age and geography? Neil Smith did and ended up with this wonderful tale of 13 year old Oliver ‘Boo’ Dalrymple who wakes up in heaven for thirteen-year-old Americans without any idea of how he got there. What follows is part mystery, part adventure and a glimpse into what the world might be like if it was run by thirteen-year-olds. I was utterly charmed by this book and you will be too.” —Huffington Post
“Remarkable. . . . A pleasure to read. The sensibility is wry, the story compelling despite all the undertones of irony. But it is the sprightliness of the language that matters most.” —National Post
“A phenomenal book by a singular talent. . . . In short, I fell in love with Boo Dalrymple. It has been ages since a character in a novel captured both my attention and my heart to this degree. . . . Boo is an extraordinary book, full stop. No qualifiers, no ifs, no ands, no buts. It is a wildly compelling, unique story brought to life by a fascinating narrator.” —Allen Adams, The Maine Edge
“A breakout debut from Smith. . . . Boo is a quirky page-turner that takes readers on a poignant, and at times dark, journey. If you liked early 2000s indie Wristcutters, you're going to love this.” —Nylon, “Summer Reading Guide”
“A book worth picking up. Smith's writing is fluid and precise, and his characters' voices feel authentic and comforting. A twist in the story and an adventure that spins out of the main tale will keep readers turning pages until the very end. . . . A fascinating look at what happens when our minds grow while our bodies remain unchanged, all set against the backdrop of the anguish and struggle of forever being a teen. . . . Smith's quirky afterlife is a unique vision of what heaven might be.” —Winnipeg Free Press
“Part murder mystery, part existential adventure, Boo is an utter charm-bomb of a novel. Neil Smith’s version of the sweet hereafter shows not only that heaven can be hell, but answers the eternal question of whether it’s better to be dumber with friends or smarter without.” —Zsuzsi Gartner, author of Better Living Through Plastic Explosives “Utterly believable. . . . Magical in its setting and plot, there is also a strong element of fable to the book. . . . For all its dead characters, the novel is alive from the outset. Town is a captivating landscape, far away from Hollywood notions of heaven.” —Irish Times
“Part murder mystery and part coming-of-age story, Boo is a fresh take on life, death, and friendship. . . . Smith’s first novel is testament to his immense imagination.” —Pop Matters
“A splendidly confident debut novel, a fantasy of emotional healing in a unique afterlife. . . . Smith smoothly develops his vision of an afterlife in which a theoretical god supplies random items from the living world, electronics run without power, and kids are left to their own devices. 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.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)
“A delicious plum pudding of perspectives on spirituality. For starters, the novel is a half-tribute to, half-send-up of Waiting for Godot.” —Vancouver Sun
“Compelling and increasingly poignant. . . . One minute 13-year-old Oliver ‘Boo’ Dalrymple is standing in front of his locker at Helen Keller Junior High School reciting the periodic table to himself (yeah, he’s that kind of boy); the next, he wakes up in bed in a place called Town. . . . The story Boo tells is endlessly intriguing and entertaining as it contemplates the presence—or absence—of God, whom the kids call Zig, while revealing surprising and disturbing truths about the [character’s] previous lives and deaths. Fans of the offbeat will think they’ve died and gone to Town—er, heaven.” —Booklist (starred)
“Neil Smith has created a heaven where the sadness and triumph of life aren’t flattened or diminished but heightened and intensified. Just like you always suspected it would be. Boo is sad, beautiful, heartbreaking and impossible to put down.” —Andrew Kaufman, author of All My Friends Are Superheroes and Born Weird “Boo is an astoundingly original novel and Neil Smith's take on the afterlife is convincing, moving, and often funny as hell. A vision equal parts Murakami and South Park.” —Emily Schultz, author of The Blondes “Who knew heaven could be so funny, so perilous, so exquisitely alive? Boo is a work of singular genius: an adventure story, a mystery and a profound meditation on childhood, lost innocence and the power of friendship to save our lives—and afterlives. I believe in Neil Smith’s heaven, with all my heart.” —Jessica Grant, author of Come, Thou Tortoise
“A touching tale of what friendship and growing up can mean. . . . The novel has an understated message about gun control and bullying and is a fine portrayal of Boo’s emergence from the carapace of fear, distrust, and solitude he grew for himself in his short life. 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.” —Kirkus Reviews
“An original and masterfully told debut novel, a dark and deeply affecting depiction of the hereafter. . . . Smith delivers a splendidly confident debut novel, a fantasy of emotional healing in a unique afterlife.” —Largehearted Boy “[Smith] has hit a home run with Boo. . . . All ages will find the novel disturbing, humourous, and absolutely authentic. . . . As the tale unfolds, it becomes darker, richer, and ghoulish, while the spare, conversational prose never patronizes either its reader or diverse cast of eccentrics. . . . Be prepared for surprises. Big surprises. And a desire to reread the entire novel to note the clues missed in the first go.” —Quill & Quire (starred)
“Perfectly drawn. . . . An insightful look at serious issues affecting today’s teenagers—bullying, mental illness, suicide and school shootings. It is the kind of book that should be taught in high school English-lit classes across the country. . . . Surprises pile up as mysteries are solved. The result: Boo is a definite page turner for both adult and teen readers.” —Ottawa Citizen
“An adventure story, and a fable about friendship. . . . In Boo, Smith brings his off-the-wall imagination to a whole other realm: the afterlife. . . . He tells us what kind of toothpaste they use in heaven (baking soda), and what kind of houses they live in (red-brick dormitories that look like housing projects). He tells us that there are no insects in heaven and that people get high by smoking chamomile leaves instead of dope. . . . [Boo] might seem lighthearted . . . but there is an undercurrent of deep loss.” —Montreal Review of Books “A very fast-paced, original and inventive story, with a foundation in emotional intelligence, honesty and flaw. . . . The voice of the scary-smart weird teen, in tandem with the narrative setting, leads you to think this is some crossover between The Lovely Bones and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Though the book exhibits qualities of both, it takes a quick turn to Lord of the Flies. . . . [The] novel’s thematic questions—a terrifying high-wire act—are huger than huge. Smith ventures to convey a reality about bullying and mental health that is far braver than any you’ve ever read, as Boo is a spelunking adventure deep into the caves of life, death, good, evil, mortality, loss and grief. . . . The construction of plot is unlike any you’ve ever seen. . . . You’ll find that the very devastating thoughts of this thirteen-year-old are shockingly intimate, relatable and, in their own way, true” —Lambda Literary
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