Of a Boy (Popular Penguins)
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Of a Boy (Popular Penguins)

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  546 ratings  ·  91 reviews
The year is 1977, and Adrian is nine. He lives with his gran and his uncle Rory; his best friend is Clinton Tull. He loves to draw and he wants a dog; he's afraid of quicksand and self-combustion. Adrian watches his suburban world, but there is much he cannot understand. He does not, for instance, know why three neighbourhood children might set out to buy ice-cream and nev...more
Paperback, 188 pages
Published June 29th 2009 by Penguin Group (Australia) (first published October 19th 2000)
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Shirley Marr
I am debating whether to give this book a three or a four. I really like the idea of the juxtaposition about a suburb's obsession with three children who have gone missing - through the eyes of a child who nobody seems to want.

On one hand, Hartnett's prose at the best of times can be so achingly acute and drive an emotion straight home: "She watches him a minute, thinking it is strange - strange how love coexists with hate, how they render one another mute, how the swilling to them together mak...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amazing depth and description for a novel billed as a teen read.

Short but very fulfilling. Far more about Adrian's everyday experiences than about the missing children. They are a backdrop, perhaps emphasising that it can feel like there are worse things that can happen than disappearing. Or that one can disappear while still being present in body.

Hartnett skillfully and painfully portrays the harsh realities of school life, shifting friendships, the outsider perspective. She shows how children...more
Another book for the DO NOT READ shelf. I've read a couple of books lately from what I am calling the "oversensitive child" genre. It must come from adults having too much therapy or something. And from not having any real children. Can you say "Cipher in the Snow," only beautifully written? Beautiful writing is no excuse for morose, completely hopeless, depressing content. Sorry! but I've seen real children suffer excruciatingly and survive--this is not real, it's just depressing. Put down the...more
Holy moly. This might be one of the more depressing books I've ever read. Yes, it's beautiful, and yes, Hartnett paints a genuine portrait of loss in all its forms, but damn. I'm glad I read this, but I don't think I'll be able to read it again until I'm in a better mood.
Another book that makes you want to know what is going on and kept me reading, but solves nothing in the end and left me quite confused. Reminds me of a book I would have to read for an English class and then write essays that debated what we thought.
I have never read such a gloomy book. It was 100% sadness. I have also never read such a well written book. Although i hated the story, I didn't stop reading it because it was so beautifully crafted.

1 star for the story
5 stars for the writing.
Firstly if you are looking for a happy pick me up book I would recommend staying clear of this one. Secondly is there a reason my copy is called 'Of A Boy'? Anyway I really related to Adrian, probably a lot better than I do to lots of people in my own age group and timeline. The feeling of being a non-entity is scary for a child.
I found this book to be an easy read - gut wrenching yes - but still worth it. It's very similar in story to the sad tale of the Beaumont Children taken from an Adelaide...more
Lauren Schultz
After reading Sonya Hartnett’s mythical The Ghost’s Child, I didn’t know quite what to expect when I began reading her more “realistic” novel What the Birds See. Although it lacks the more fantastic elements found in The Ghost’s Child, What the Birds See actually has a fair bit in common with the former; no matter what her subject matter, Hartnett’s prose is lyrical and her tone extremely somber. I cannot stress the splendor and originality of Hartnett’s metaphors, in fact. This is a beautiful n...more
My Inner Shelf
L’histoire débute par la disparition inexpliquée de 3 enfants, avant de se recentrer sur Adrian, petit garçon timide élevé par sa grand-mère. Le personnage d’Adrian est terriblement attachant, on ne peut que ressentir une profonde empathie à son égard. Se sentant mal aimé, abandonné de tous, Adrian est un enfant digne mais solitaire, préférant la solitude à la mauvaise compagnie. La grand-mère, qu’il surnomme Grand-Monstre, illustre l’un des nombreuses peurs et angoisses d’Adam. Sa grand-mère, v...more
Kathleen Hagen
Of a Boy, by Sonya Hartnett, narrated by Humphrey Bowers, produced by Bolinda Audio, downloaded from audible.com.

This is a book taking place in Australia written by an Australian author. It is classified as a young adult or children’s book. Well, this is a children’s book in the same way that Andersen’s and Grimm’s Fairy Tales were children stories. Adrian was seven years old and lived with his grandmother. His own mother had abandoned him and took drugs. His mother’s sister wanted nothing to do...more
This is a strange book... and I think I don't get Sonya Hartnett's books. I wish they were quirky and odd but there's something about them I don't quite get. This is the second book of hers that I read and it is just as weird (though in a different way than The Ghost's Child ); it is depressing and leaves me feeling bereft somehow. Makes me wonder why she wrote it...

Maybe I find the world around me depressing and sad enough that I don't also want to read about abandoned and lonely children who c...more
Simone Guest
Of a Boy is a moving tale of a boy trying to make sense of his world. One word describes this book for me – sadness. I read this book quite some time ago and when I began to write this I had a chance to go back and back and re-read this fabulous book. A few pages in and I quickly remembered the pure pleasure of reading this five star novel.

The book is set in 1977 and tells the story of Adrian McPhee, abandoned by his parents and left with his grandmother and uncle. Adrian is a shy boy scared of...more
May 19, 2014 Ally rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ally by: Prospect book club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I was completely caught up in this story & could not put it down - read it in one sitting. Thought it was fantastically written and the air of impending doom throughout was brilliantly done. I'd add this into what I term "Australian Gothic" only instead of the "the bush" as the sinister external setting/character, this is suburbia - the schoolyard, home, the streets & park take on a dreadful aspect. Adrian is heartbreaking in his lonliness & how abandoned he is by the adults in his l...more
TeenFiction Teton County Library
YA Hartnett

This dark little book focuses on a young boy who doesn't quite fit in at school, and who lives with his artistic but reclusive uncle and his uptight grandmother. In the background of the book is news of the disappearance of 3 siblings, who went to get ice cream and never came home. Adrian becomes friends with his new neighbors and the plot revolves around his relationship with the oldest of the 3 children who move to his neighborhood.

While this book is beautifully written, the plot se...more
Clare McConnon
I have always been a fan of Sonya Hartnett and this novel only reinforces my admiration for her as a writer. This is an exquisitely written story about a young boy trying to make sense of a world that doesn't seem to want him.

The character of Adrian is a beautiful and tragic one: I kept wanting to give him a hug. He wants to understand why his community seems so caught up in the disappearance of the three Metford children when he seems to be invisible in plain sight. The themes of betrayal, del...more
This is a sad story which follows the life of a little, neglected boy. It is beautifully written, and comes close to home to how some children exist.

This book is know as OF A BOY in Australia.
Nope. I did not like the main character, and I did not like the main character's friend. It was a struggle to get through this book, and the ending was so bad I wish I hadn't struggled through it.
Marissa The barbie doll
Feb 28, 2008 Marissa The barbie doll rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who can read big words
that its okay to be afriad and that somethings cannot be explained .. also i learnt that alot of childern are abducted and disappear. because they are varnable. and that everyone has their own issues and that not all familes such as adrian's is perfect and not everyone lives with mum or dad, some live with Grandma, Grandpa, uncle etc.....

Ioved this book it had alot of big words which i like verrry good usage of words which is good i liked the poem at the end which was quite good. I really liked...more
Adrian is 9 years old and a lost soul. He is being raised by his maternal grandmother, since his mother is mentally unfit and his father has lost interest in him. His one school friend is leaving him for a student higher in the playground pecking order. Adrian's fears and anguish are very real. He has somewhat positive interactions with his housebound Uncle Rory (agoraphobia) and three neighbor children with a moribund mother. I didn't find the book as depressing as some others have, nor as the...more
My copy is called Of a Boy, this was a disturbing little read, but tonight I will be a little more tender with my boy to ensure he knows he is loved and wanted.
I thoroughly enjoyed 'Of as it was simply written yet intricate with the outside events of his society connecting to the main character, a young boy,and how his life would pane out. As he was only a young boy the complications of his family life were uncertain to him, the innocence of his voice and personal thoughts of the world are intriguing as in doing this Hartnett makes you highlight on thoughts or ideas that you hadn't connected to the understanding of the story prior. Of a boy is a intere...more
I think Hartnett explores the beauty in hopelessness. I don't have another way to explain how she writes the most amazing descriptions, ones that make me feel and smell and even taste images of my past, good memories...and still leaves me completely devastated. I read and reread the paragraph of Adrian touching the cherub - could almost feel it myself (page 31), and his experience in the park, with the green grass (pg 46) reminded me of the Green Grass where we played as children. It was near an...more
Kristen Shae
Beautifully written and just pulls you in and makes you fall a little in love with the beautifully sensitive child Adrian. But also incredibly bleak. It is a book that starts sad and increases until the devastating end.
Like her other 2 books I've read (Surrender and Thursday's Child), this is pure poetry. Her writing is gorgeous and engrossing; you don't want the story to end (in part because you just know it won't end happily) because the writing is just so lyrical.

This lacks the surreal elements of the two other novels mentioned above, and it's a little harder to get into, but it's worth the effort. This poor kid, with all his irrational fears and his completely rational ones. Hartnett captures the pain and...more
This book was rather dark and depressing. Within the first few chapters, three children go missing, a young boy lists the things he finds frightening (including sea monsters, getting lost in grows, being forgotten at school, and spontaneous combustion), a young man dies in a car crashed by his best friend, and a father dies of cancer. The book is powerfully written — you get a strong impression of who Adrian is and what concerns him day by day — but the conclusion is dark and dreary. I’m not sur...more
BCL Teen Librarians
It's the fall of 1977, and nine-year-old Adrian, rejected by his parents, questions why someone would want the three children from his neighborhood who seem to have disappeared from the face of the Earth during a trip to buy ice cream. Haunting in its simplicity and detachment, Hartnett's story explores the feelings of a child who just can't quite find acceptance, at home or at school. The ending is a head-scratcher, but the book is worth reading for the believable emotions and observations of A...more
Marion Brownlee
Pretty good. Athough I didn't agree with the ending. All the way through you think you know how it will end. Mysterious.
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UK and US title 1 4 Apr 17, 2009 12:10AM  
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Sonya Hartnett (also works under the pseudonym Cameron S. Redfern) is, or was, something of an Australian child prodigy author. She wrote her first novel at the age of thirteen, and had it published at fifteen. Her books have also been published in Europe and North America. Her novels have been published traditionally as young adult fiction, but her writing often crosses the divide and is also enj...more
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“...it's stupid to be that way, so easily hurt; it's better to be like a plank of wood, an emotional mule. It's best not to feel,...best to have your nerve endings cauterized.” 4 likes
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