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Boy's Life

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  26,981 ratings  ·  3,015 reviews
An Alabama boy’s innocence is shaken by murder and madness in the 1960s South in this novel by the New York Times–bestselling author of Swan Song.

It’s 1964 in idyllic Zephyr, Alabama. People either work for the paper mill up the Tecumseh River, or for the local dairy. It’s a simple life, but it stirs the impressionable imagination of twelve-year-old aspiring writer Cory Ma
Kindle Edition, 625 pages
Published October 18th 2011 by Open Road Media (first published August 1st 1991)
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Badri I finished it and boy, am I glad I did it! Do yourself a favour and work through it! You will find why it is a masterpiece.

But to answer your question…more
I finished it and boy, am I glad I did it! Do yourself a favour and work through it! You will find why it is a masterpiece.

But to answer your question, and anyone else's, I'll quote from the book, what Vernon says to Cory:

"And maybe there wasn't a real plot to it, maybe there wasn't anything that grabbed you by the throat and tried to shake you until your bones rattled, but the book was about life. It was the flow and the voices, the little day-today things that make up the memory of living. It meandered like the river, and you never knew where you were going until you got there, but the journey was sweet and left you wishing for more. It was alive..."

This book ought to become a classic, perhaps will become a classic. (less)

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Average rating 4.36  · 
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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 ou
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have neither the words nor the talent to adequately describe what this book did to me. It should be on your bucket list, no matter who you are.

On the surface, this book is a murder mystery. Forget the minimal supernatural elements, it plays a much smaller part than you might think.
It's a coming-of-age story about a twelve year old boy, Cory Mackenson, growing up in a town called Zephyr in the early sixties. And the story begins with him and his father, witnessing the aftermath of a murder and
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Update: $1.99 Kindle US 9/21/19

I am almost at a loss of words about this book. It is one of my favorites now. I thought it was going to be just about a mystery of who murdered someone and and father and son trying to find out the mystery!

Even though it was a little before my time all of the things that happened in Corys childhood is so familiar growing up hearing all of the stories from family. Granted a lot of the same things were in my childhood but I digress.

I loved the mystery that went on
Elyse  Walters
Nov 07, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I can't stand this book any longer! I mean ....I REALLY can't stand it!!!!!

After about 4 hours of my time listening to the Audiobook...I'm DONE!!!
I don't care what the hell happens -- I can't remember when I've completely disliked a book more

The guys voice on the Audiobook sounds condescending to me most of the time.
Other times the writing itself is too syrupy sweet.
I was bored to death -- I felt everything was OVER-DESCRIBED. My God....I didn't care if the door was shiny. If the damn
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
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: favorites
A magnificent coming-of-age standalone.

Fantasy and sci-fi will always be my favorite genres to read. I’m not ashamed to say that I haven’t read a lot of novels outside SFF; mainly because I found the popular and the highly acclaimed non-SFF books that I've read so far to be mostly disappointing or just not satisfying enough. However, there will always be that rare occurrence where I pick up a random book outside of my favorite genre and realized that I have been transported by a magical portal.
This was a very good book with two main plot lines and a separate smaller plot in almost every chapter. It reminded me of, and I have read this comparison elsewhere as well, Different Seasons era Stephen King.

One of the great things about this book is that it perfectly embodies pre-pubecent innocence and coming of age. I was discussing this in one of my book clubs and we talked about how the main characters had yet to reach the the point of disenchanted teenagers driven by angst and hormones whi
Sadie Hartmann
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You know, it's a weighty thing when you've read as many books as I have over my 41 years of life and you finish a book that becomes your new favorite of all time.
I never thought I'd read anything that impressed me as much as a Stephen King book. I mean, for a long time Salem's Lot was the gold standard, then it was The Shining, then IT. My favorite book for many, many years was IT. Until just now.
Boy's Life is my new favorite, standalone novel.
It's literally everything.
It's an adventure, it's a
Dan Schwent
Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, man-tears
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
Em Lost In Books
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
Johann (jobis89)
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
"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 ages. Told to grow up, for God's sake. And you know why we were told that? Bec ...more
Alisa Kester
Jul 23, 2008 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
Diane Barnes
Oct 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 stars because nothing else will do. 5 stars for the writing, the characters, the plot, the magic. For letting me be inside the mind of a 12 year old boy who is all of us at 12. For the town of Zephyr, Alabama. For Old Moses, The Lady, Mona and Little Stevie Cauley. For 600 pages of sheer entertainment and good writing.

I dedicate this review to Mike Sullivan, moderator of the group ON THE SOUTHERN LITERARY TRAIL. He assigned this one as his October moderator's choice, and I sighed and thought t
Janie C.
Jun 07, 2015 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
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
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

“Don’t be in a hurry to grow up. Hold on to being a boy as long as you can, because once you lose that magic, you’re always begging to find it again.”

Boy’s Life is a selection I’ve actively avoided ever since it first popped up on my radar due to its unprecedented 4.55 rating amongst my Goodreads’ friends. (If you aren’t familiar with them, let’s just say they aren’t a real forgiving group of readers and leave it with that so they
Sep 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-said, top
“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
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,
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
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
We filled up life with living,
with grins, scabbed knees, and noise.
In glass I see an older man,
but this book's for the boys.

"In me are the memories of a boy's life, spent in that realm of enchantments."

What. A. Wonderful. Book.!!!

Boy's Life goes directly into my favorites shelf. This novel which is about a boy's life, is special, magical, exceptional and feels so real.

The narrator of this autobiographical fiction, Cory Mackenson, tells us:
"We all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlw
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddy-reads
Look, up in the sky!! Is that Lil' Nemo’s baseball hurtling to Earth with such an impact that it’ll wipe out all of mankind?

Sucker! Made you look.

I almost gave this three stars!

Oh, the inhumanity!!

I wasn’t quite as smitten by this book as some of my more learned friends – you know who you are.

McCammon is a fine writer; he creates some evocative characters; he lays out some of the most remarkable scenes that I have ever read; some of his passages threw me back to my own youth; he can turn a phras
Heidi The Reader
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction
Boy's Life is about Cory Mackenson, the southern town of Zephyr and the magic of every day life.

We had a monster in the river, and a secret in the lake. We had a ghost that haunted the road behind the wheel of a black dragster with flames on the hood. We had a Gabriel and a Lucifer, and a rebel that rose from the dead. We had an alien invader, a boy with a perfect arm, and we had a dinosaur loose on Merchants Street. It was a magic place." pg 10, ebook.

The story begins with a death and a myster
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 sa

Boy’s life is like colorful, multilayered crazy patchwork woven from boyish dreams and desires, a dash of magic and forgotten long time ago by our adult self power to fly. It’s a dish compounded from carefully chosen ingredients that tastes of sweetness of children’s smiles and bitterness of their tears. It’s entering to our dreamed secret garden, realm inhabited both by bloodthirsty monsters and noble sheriffs, heroes that occupied our childish imagination. It’s a nostalgic journey into the p
Do you know the feeling of eating some fresh-fresh-from-the-oven cornbread drizzled with some honey butter?

That's this entire novel.

A 12-year-old boy getting out of school, enjoying summer, then going back to school, in 60's Alabama. Sounds simple, right? But this is charming in not just a nostalgic kind of way a-la Stephen King's IT, but full of love, consideration, adventure, magical realism, murder, mystery, courage, and some of the best Coming-Of-Age writing I've ever come across.

It's more
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I could go on and on about this book. Quite simply it's one of the best American stories ever written. Just amazing. If you've never read BOY'S LIFE, you are really missing out. ...more
May 08, 2010 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
May 10, 2013 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

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
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
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Robert Rick McCammon was a full-time horror writer for many years. Among his many popular novels were the classics Boy's Life and Swan Song. 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.

His next novel, a standalone book called The Li

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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.” 268 likes
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