Cory Mackenson, age 12, lives in Zephyr, Alabama, a quiet town that has an odd air of magic to it. One day, while Cory is out with his father delivering milk, the two witness the aftermath of a horrific murder, the victim disappearing in a lake. Tom Mackenson is deeply haunted by this, and Cory attempts to find clues to the identity of the murderer.
...and yet, despite the above event, this book is truly about the life of a boy. The murder provides a story arc. a conflict and a climax, but Boy's Life is, at its core, a Slice of Life novel, alternating between Heartwarming and heartwrenching events in one year of Cory's life.
Not to be confused with the official magazine of the Boy Scouts of America titled Boys' Life or Tobias Wolff's "This Boy's Life.".
This novel contains examples of:
- Animal Motifs: It's subtle, but there are recurring themes of birds and flight. Yes, they are extremely relevant.
- Cool Old Guy: Mr. Lightfoot
- Darkest Hour: The better part of "Winter's Cold Truth", but especially "Faith".
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: NO...well, maybe for the readers, but the people of Zephyr definitely don't appreciate the aptly named Lucifer.
- Hurl It into the Sun: At the end of the second part, Nemo, enraged by the fact he has to move yet again literally hurls a baseball at the sun and stalks off. The ball never comes down.
- Kill the Cutie: Davy Ray.
- Magical Negro: The Lady, quite literally.
- Magical Realism: This book pushes the Willing Suspension of Disbelief quite far with the amount of ridiculously prevalent supernatural happenings, including but not limited to: ghosts, a magical woman who can turn bullets into snakes, a dog being brought back to life through prayer, a completely unexplained triceratops/rhino thing, a baseball apparently thrown INTO THE SUN, and a magical biting bike.
- Most Writers Are Writers
- Mr Fix It: Mr. Lightfoot can fix anything. He even disarms an atomic bomb.
- Snow Means Death
- Subliminal Seduction: According to Reverend Blesset, the Beach Boys do it. ("The Devil Is My Strawberry!")
- Unexplained Recovery: Rebel. This is not a good thing.