author : neil smith
pages : [paperback] 310
favorite character : boo
When Oliver “Boo” Dalrymple wakes up in heaven, the eighth-grade science geek thinks he died of a heart defect at his school. But soon after arriving in this hereafter reserved for dead thirteen-year-olds, Boo discovers he’s a ‘gommer’, a kid who was murdered. What’s more, his killer may also be in heaven. With help from the volatile Johnny, a classmate killed at the same school, Boo sets out to track down the mysterious Gunboy who cut short both their lives.
In a heartrending story written to his beloved parents, the odd but endearing Boo relates his astonishing heavenly adventures as he tests the limits of friendship, learns about forgiveness and, finally, makes peace with the boy he once was and the boy he can now be.
I can’t remember when this book first landed on my TBR pile. It’s been on my list for months, at least, if not since it was first released almost exactly a year ago. Finally I was able to get my hands onto a copy of it. I checked this book out of the library but, to be honest, I wish that I’d bought it. I feel like this is one of those books I need to read again over the years.
Boo hooked me in immediately. I don’t know why unique books about the afterlife (Everlost and Elsewhere are two that immediately come to mind) constantly fascinate me. Maybe because even though each religion has their own idea of what comes after death, even individuals within that certain religion can have wildly different conceptions of what the afterlife exactly is like. Although I really hope that Smith’s version isn’t so true, because if I’d died at thirteen and ended up stuck in a town filled with other thirteen year olds, that’d have been miserable. Middle schoolers are terrible–well, for the most part–and Boo kind of shows that, alongside showing how even thirteen year olds can be mature if they’re forced to remain thirteen for several decades.
I loved how easily I could immerse myself in the world. Boo has his quirks, so he immediately finds a group of people who are able to love him in spite of it, people who may have their own insecurities about themselves. It’s never established whether or not Boo possibly had some form of autism and I like how it is just implied that he is different, and lonely, and incredibly smart (maybe too smart, sometimes). Boo likes to look at everything from a scientific point of view, has trouble connecting socially, and struggles with emotions. But he’s a great friend, very observant, and immediately tries to understand things about the afterlife that would have remained incomprehensible to the less scientifically inclined.
Because it was just so interesting to see his world, I read this book in about a day and a half. I just couldn’t stop reading because I needed to know what was going to happen next. There was so much mystery surrounding Boo’s and Johnny’s deaths, because most of the afterlife’s residents don’t remember much about how they died in order to protect their own happiness. I won’t go into much detail because I don’t want to spoil it, but throughout the book you’ll definitely cry. But it is so worth it.
I’m definitely going to be recommending this book. I’ll probably be buying a copy for myself, eventually. It was so amazing, lasting, and touching that I just can’t resist.