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Boy's Life

4.32  ·  Rating Details ·  16,549 Ratings  ·  1,597 Reviews
In me are the memories of a boy's life, spent in that realm of enchantments. These are the things I want to tell you....

Robert McCammon delivers "a tour de force of storytelling" (BookPage) in his award-winning masterpiece, a novel of Southern boyhood, growing up in the 1960s, that reaches far beyond that evocative landscape to touch readers universally.

Boy's Life is a r
Hardcover, 440 pages
Published August 1st 1991 by Pocket Books (first published 1991)
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Boy's Life by Robert McCammonSpeaks the Nightbird by Robert McCammonThe Alienist by Caleb CarrJohnny Got His Gun by Dalton TrumboThe Bottoms by Joe R. Lansdale
My Twenty Favorite Books
1st out of 24 books — 3 voters
Gone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellThe Adventures of Tom Sawyer & Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeSilent We Stood by Henry ChappellThe Help by Kathryn Stockett
Americana Fiction
20th out of 41 books — 27 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
This is one of those books that I've beat myself over the head with how to rate it.
I'm going with five stars because it's a book I will remember. I think some of the story felt familiar to me because other author's have been influenced by this writing. And there is not a thing wrong with that, because this was superb.

It follows eleven year old Cory for a full year in his life. The 1960's growing up in a small town. A town that magic existed in. I had some trouble I do admit with some parts of t
There is no way that any review could live up to this book. It is utterly fabulous. It reels you in and never lets you go. It will bring back every good memory that you had while growing up. The feeling of freedom you experienced riding your bike, exploring wooded areas and just generally being a kid.

One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from this book:

We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out
Dan Schwent
Oct 01, 2015 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: man-tears, 2015
While riding with his father on the milk route, Cory Mackenson witnesses a car plunging into a bottomless lake with a dead man handcuffed to the steering wheel. Will they figure out who the man was before the memory destroys them?

Yeah, that's not a great teaser for this. How do you summarize a couple years in the life of a young boy?

I tried hard not to like this book. For the first quarter of it, it wasn't hard. Boy's Life feels overwritten for what it is and Robert McCammon was trying so hard t
Alisa Kester
Jul 23, 2008 Alisa Kester rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
If I had to pick JUST ONE book that was my favorite (with a gun to my head, obviously, which is the only way I could ever choose between my favorite books) I would choose this one. It blew me away the first time I read it, and it continues to blow me away each and every time I pick it up. I'm getting all shivery right now, just thinking of reading it.

My favorite quote -- "We all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to
Apr 21, 2015 Arah-Lynda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top, i-said
“Lyric” it said: “Melodic. Suitable for singing. A lyric poem. Of the lyre.” That didn’t seem to make much sense in regards to a movie theatre, until I continued following "lyre" in my dictionary. "Lyre" took me into the story-poems sung by travelling minstrels back when there were castles and kings. Which took me back to that wonderful word; story. It seemed to me at an early age that all human communication- whether it’s TV, movies, or books- begins with somebody wanting to tell a story. That ...more
Mar 15, 2013 Lou rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a Magical story of a boy Cory, he narrates to us about his life in the year 1964 in a small town of Zephyr Alabama where anything and everything happens. His experiences and friendships want to make you tearful and joyful he is on a journey of self discovery and of mysteries that haunt his father and the lake. A highly recommended read one to make my list of must reads, Robert McCammon is a underrated writer a master craftsman storyteller.
'Because Death cannot be known. It cannot be be
Edit: September 19th, Kindle version is available for $1.99

It’s 1964 and Cory Mackenson is a 12-year old boy living in a town and time where boys that age are fairly free of supervision to wander about town together, playing freely through their summers and Saturdays – Sundays are for church. Aside from Cory’s Dad, a milkman, and his Mom, there are Cory’s buddies, his classmates, and a cast of characters in this town, including the neighboring town of Bruton, where The Lady lives.

This captivati
Boy's Life is one of those books you do not want to end.A beautiful coming of age story that takes place in Zephyr, Alabama. The time is the early 60's; men still work as milkmen and women devote much of their time to baking, though it has its bad sides: racial prejudices and segregation are still actual problems.

The protagonist is a 12 yar old boy, named Cory Mackenson. Cory doesn't have TV and video games; but he has no problem living to the fullest without these. After all, there are bikes,
Sep 18, 2016 Sue rated it it was amazing
Great, enjoyable book that hits on so many different emotional levels, and does it so well. I also very much appreciate the author's acknowledgement section at the end as the various cultural references take me back to moments from my youth and their attendant memories. And all just a week before my high school reunion! What a perfect moment to read such a memory-laden book.

As for the work itself, there is just so much here and I had so many different responses to it, all deftly drawn by McCammo
Mike (the Paladin)
This is a surprising book. My brother and I (who mostly agree on absolutely nothing) both enjoyed this book. We came to the conclusion it might be a generational thing. I'm a "Boomer" while he would be on the tail end of that designation if not just after it. A boy and his bicycle...a bike meant freedom then. I grew up in the foothills of the Smokies (Smoky Mountains)till I was 13. I was all over two counties on that bike. Then we moved to Dayton Ohio. There I covered the entire area on my Bike, ...more
Janie C.
Jun 23, 2015 Janie C. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! To say that I loved this book is an understatement. I don't know why it took me so many years to decide to read it. Perhaps it was the length that put me off; the book is over 600 pages. I shouldn't have let that stop me. Once I got started, the story flowed and kept my attention until the very end.

The book begins with the narrator prefacing his story as an adult. He tells us that he believes in magic, and then he proceeds to tell us about the year when he was twelve years old in a little t
The year is 1964. The place, small town Zephyr, Alabama. Back when there was something magical about a summer just starting. Childhood buddies Cory, Davy Ray, Ben, and Johnny are twelve years old.

It was impossible not to wax nostalgic while reading this coming of age story, as I, too, was twelve years old in the summer of 1964. No cell phones, no cable TV, no PCs. A simpler time, to be sure. Time was spent riding your bicycles, exploring, playing hard, and learning life's lessons, one by one. M
Aug 02, 2014 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"You Don't Have To Leave What Is, To Visit What Was"

Revisit the past by taking this sentimental journey into the 1960's in Zephyr, Alabama. Eleven year old Corey Mackenson and a memorable cast of well-defined characters (OMG Vernon) will make you both laugh and cry many times throughout the book. From a shocking murder comes haunting dreams, and from boyhood friendships comes both happiness and sorrow. There are creatures and ghosts, floods and bullies, and you'll not forget the wasp's from hell

Oct 18, 2016 Perry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Perry by: Cheri
A Splendid Southern Story
4.5*, rounded up

This 1991 novel will not make it to the syllabi in many university literature classes, but it has one of the most entertaining and heartfelt stories I've read in quite a while. It's one that seems to stay with readers for a while, without being weighed down by sappy sentimentality, affected dialogue or melodrama. Sometimes, this is exactly the kind of affable fable that I want and need to read.

The story's protagonist and narrator, Cory Mackenson narrates
Bill Khaemba
"No!!! Why did it end…I don’t want to close the book, I don’t want to leave Zephyr, Alabama." (Throws tantrum)

This was truly magical absolutely breathtaking & one of the best books I have ever read… So much life came out of this book, the author ( bless him ) managed to capture the true essence of childhood, the beauty of imagination and the importance of naivety . The way most people describe the love for this book and the countless recommendation for this one, I can finally say I unders
Aug 02, 2008 Steph rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You know how you can read a book, and when you are finished, you weep because there is no more? Well, this is one of those books. The story, the characters, the descriptive passages...oh, man, the descriptive passages. Positively magical was the passage about the young boys onthe last day of school before summer break. I had to put the book down and savor that for a while before I continued. Read the passage to my husband (and anyone else who would listen). Ya gotta read this book!
Jan 14, 2012 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012
5 super big stars

Wow, what a masterpiece. Robert McCammon has crafted, a timeless classic in this novel, Boy's Life. I can only try to give it justice with my review by comparing it to a great work of art. People are able to identify with great works of art. They can appreciate them, and attempt to understand them. They are worth "More than a 1000 words". So too is this novel by McCammon. This is a magical book that makes the reader “feel” the words and the stories. I feel that this book is ext
Franco  Santos
«We all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires and comets inside us...»

No es algo de todos los días encontrar un libro que exprese tan bien la dulzura de la niñez. No es común que una historia pueda hacerte sentir la vida como algo más de lo que se ve. Este relato es brillante. Una travesía por la infancia, la tristeza, la verdad, los sueños, la esperanza, el amor, la muerte y la amistad. McCammon nos sube a su bote y nos hace navegar por las letras de una historia in
Richard Vialet
*4.5 Stars*
Robert McCammon's coming-of-age classic, Boy's Life, is almost universally loved. So when I started the book and got about 5 chapters in, I was initially horrified to find that I didn't have the same warm feeling in my stomach the way others seemed to have when reading it. Had I finally realized that my taste was in fact not as impeccable as I'd thought? Was I going to have to write an unfavorable review for a beloved book and get roasted and trolled for it and lose the respect of my
Jul 31, 2016 Bandit rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is why I read. Books like this one. Of course, once encountered with such perfection of storytelling, how can words adequately describe the sheer joy of reading this book. Well, one can try. This is a story about a year of a boy's life, set in the simpler times (early to mid 1960s) in a small Alabama town of Zephyr. But no, that's too bland. This is a story about the magic of childhood. Yes, that's more accurate. This is a story about a time in your life where things are pure potential, whe ...more
Tom Mathews
Oct 12, 2016 Tom Mathews rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
We ran like young wild furies,
where angels feared to tread.
The woods were dark and deep.
Before us demons fled.
We checked Coke bottle bottoms
to see how far was far.
Our worlds of magic wonder
were never reached by car.
We loved our dogs like brothers,
our bikes like rocket ships.
We were going to the stars,
to Mars we’d make round trips.
We swung on vines like Tarzan,
and flashed Zorro’s keen blade.
We were James Bond in his Aston,
we were Hercules unchained.
We looked upon the future
and we
Oct 13, 2015 Mona rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Engrossing Southern Gothic about One Boy's Childhood

Is it a murder mystery? A coming of age novel? A Southern gothic?

This wonderful cross genre novel about Southern boyhood suffers from a bit of an identity crisis. It can't decide whether to be a murder mystery, a coming of age story, a Southern Gothic, an adventure tale, a children's book, or a novel of magic realism. It's a bit of all of these, and much more.

Who's the murderer?

While the murderer is a complete mystery for the first half or two
Paul Nelson
Boy’s Life is my second book by Robert McCammon and I have to say the guy is a master story teller, set in the small town of Zephyr, Alabama in the 1960’s, the author takes us through the early teenage years of aspiring writer Cory Mackenson, his family and various incidents that occur in this rural town.

The story starts when Cory and his father while out on the early morning milk delivery witness a car plunge off the road into the deep water of the quarry. Cory’s father dives in to try and save
This was the monthly read of a group that I am a member of. This is also the first book that I completed under my resolution of reading atleast one book of the monthly read of my groups. I was a little hesitant reading it (specially after the disaster of The Ocean at the End of the Lane). But this book was nothing like that. In every sense it is better than that. It just left me spellbound.

Story captures a whole year of a boy's life named Cory Mackerson. While reading the book I couldn't help bu
Think Something Wicked This Way Comes without a focused antagonistic plot line. Think Alice Hoffman. Think of something slow, and winding, with just a trace of the unreal. Think of stories from your southern grandpa, told from the perspective of a master storyteller.

Think slooooow.

The rest of this review will be displayed at
This is what a novel should be; nostalgic, thrilling, and has tiny bits of magic.

Not the abracadabra magic. But magic enough to amaze you, and still feel real. This a wonderful coming-of-age, fantasy, mystery story rolled into one. Reading this made me feel good about reading in general. That joy... almost magical feeling books give you? Ahh, best feeling in the world, man. Boy's Life will give you that.

This is a story of a 12 year old Cory Mackenson in Zephyr, Alabama in the 1960s. There's mon
Jul 30, 2014 Gary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book works its way through the seasons of what is a very slowly unfolding murder mystery. At first, the pace at which the mystery progressed frustrated me as I wound my way through path after path of digression. Soon, the digressions themselves drew me in and time and again I found myself feeling as if I was a part of the story itself.
The author does a masterful job of bringing the characters to life. By the end of the novel, I felt as if I knew them and would miss them when I closed the co
Jun 09, 2012 Algernon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, favorites
this is going to be a bit long and rambling, because I really, really liked the book and had a lot to chew on before putting my thougths on paper:

My third book by Robert McCammon took me a little by surprise by the change in style, but in a good way. I liked The Wolf's Hour for its Indiana Jones type of campy adventure and Swan Song for its disturbing depiction of the aftermath of a nuclear war. But Boy's Life is where I became a true fanboy, where he has shown what he can really do with a
Apr 10, 2008 badfae rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: general-fiction
I read this book as a teenager, and again as an adult...and both times, it affected me.

On the surface, Boy's Life may see like another fluffy, cross-genre book--is it a crime novel? Is it horror? Is it fantasy? Is it a coming-of-age story?--but that would be selling it short. There's a kind of magic in here, the same sort of magic McCammon refers to himself in the first few pages.

It contains the nostalgic magic of childhood, sure (which we've all experienced, whether we grew up as boys in the
Sep 26, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book made me think of To Kill a Mocking Bird, with an added hint of the paranormal. A young, respectful boy growing up in the 60's becomes intrigued and obsessed by a murder in his small and uneventful community. With his sharp, inventive imagination of that of a writer, he starts out on quite an adventure to solve the crime and save his father from his own tortuous and ethical conscience. Great friends, great adventure, great tragedy and Robert McCammon's great mystery writing, make this a ...more
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On the Southern L...: * Boy's Life, October, 2016 88 74 Oct 21, 2016 06:24AM  
  • Summer of Night
  • Dweller
  • The Shadow Year
  • Dead Sea
  • Godmother Night
  • The Throat
  • Dread in the Beast
  • Thraxas (Thraxas, #1-2)
  • The Ceremonies
  • The Elementals
  • Cropper's Cabin
  • Stranger
  • The Bottoms
  • Only Begotten Daughter
  • Doctor Rat
  • Jack & Jill
  • The Missing (Keeper, #2)
  • Falling Angel
Robert Rick McCammon was a full-time horror writer for many years. After taking a hiatus for his family, he returned to writing with an interest in historical fiction.

The sixth book in his Matthew Corbett historical fiction series, Freedom of the Mask, was published in May 2016.

The second book in the Trevor Lawson I Travel by Night series, Last Train from Perdition, will be published in October 20
More about Robert McCammon...

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“You know, I do believe in magic. I was born and raised in a magic time, in a magic town, among magicians. Oh, most everybody else didn’t realize we lived in that web of magic, connected by silver filaments of chance and circumstance. But I knew it all along. When I was twelve years old, the world was my magic lantern, and by its green spirit glow I saw the past, the present and into the future. You probably did too; you just don’t recall it. See, this is my opinion: we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allowed to wither in themselves.

After you go so far away from it, though, you can’t really get it back. You can have seconds of it. Just seconds of knowing and remembering. When people get weepy at movies, it’s because in that dark theater the golden pool of magic is touched, just briefly. Then they come out into the hard sun of logic and reason again and it dries up, and they’re left feeling a little heartsad and not knowing why. When a song stirs a memory, when motes of dust turning in a shaft of light takes your attention from the world, when you listen to a train passing on a track at night in the distance and wonder where it might be going, you step beyond who you are and where you are. For the briefest of instants, you have stepped into the magic realm.

That’s what I believe.

The truth of life is that every year we get farther away from the essence that is born within us. We get shouldered with burdens, some of them good, some of them not so good. Things happen to us. Loved ones die. People get in wrecks and get crippled. People lose their way, for one reason or another. It’s not hard to do, in this world of crazy mazes. Life itself does its best to take that memory of magic away from us. You don’t know it’s happening until one day you feel you’ve lost something but you’re not sure what it is. It’s like smiling at a pretty girl and she calls you “sir.” It just happens.

These memories of who I was and where I lived are important to me. They make up a large part of who I’m going to be when my journey winds down. I need the memory of magic if I am ever going to conjure magic again. I need to know and remember, and I want to tell you.”
“After years of having a dog, you know him. You know the meaning of his snuffs and grunts and barks. Every twitch of the ears is a question or statement, every wag of the tail is an exclamation.” 189 likes
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