Boy's Life



            Imagine watching a car drive of a cliff into a lake. Would you jump in after it like Tom Mackenson did, only to discover that man was already dead – strangled? In Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon, Cory saw the car, he saw his dad jumping in, and he watched his father slowly go mad. Cory’s left with this mystery, the death, and his family trying to get back on their feet. But there’s still a problem: he’s just a boy.


            Cory Mackenson just wants to grow up. He wants to be with his friends, family, and dog. But faced with death after death, he’s forced to grow up and mature quickly. He has to deal with seeing his dad, Tom, grow more and more scared of revisiting the nightmarish event. As Tom’s wife, Rebecca, encourages him to visit The Lady, a black mystic, Tom grows even more fearful of what he might learn. Cory meets new people like Nemo Curliss, a thin, pale kid with a great arm and Vernon Thaxter, a grown man stuck in the mindset of a child. The third-person view from Cory’s perspective adds a personal touch as the reader feels each heart breaking blow.

            McCammon added a touch of fantasy to this mystery/contemporary realistic fiction novel. The magical bike The Lady gives to Cory, the dinosaur at the fair, and the forever racing baseball makes the book supernatural.

            Something else McCammon included are events from the 60’s. He especially focused on the KKK and on racism in general. Some characters in the novel are in the KKK and plot against the town of Bruton, filled with primarily blacks. People are scared of The Lady not only because she’s a mystic, but because she’s black. They throw insults at her and even go as far as burning a cross in her front yard. But, some people change. A black man saved a white man’s life, and even though McCammon didn’t address the aftermath, it can be assumed he changed for the better.

            This entire novel is centered around death – the murder, a passing of a loved one, and even one of Cory’s best friends. Cory’s struggle to cope with these deaths points to the themes of letting go. He can’t get over them but has to so he can fully function and be happy. Tom Mackenson, however, is more affected. He has visions of the dead man’s murderer and is slowly driven to insanity. It’s necessary for him to accept that it’s not his fault so he can still be a good father, husband, and friend.

            To fully move on, let go. If someone like Cory is hung up on grief, everything else is going to be affected – Cory’s grades drop, his relationships suffer, and he does reckless things. This can happen to anybody because loss can tear down even the strongest hearts. But by letting go, everything benefits. By moving past all the grief, life moves forward.