By: Jonathan Friesen
Publication Date: April 2011
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: March 2011
Young adult books are getting better and better, flooding the marketplace with stories that not only promote the popular ‘fanged-ones,’ but also offer extremely fun, charming, hilarious novels.
In this great work of fiction, we meet Martin Boyle. Martin is a young boy who has, to say the least, a very odd home life. While he spends his time writing fantasy stories, his mother spends her time repeating the story of Martin’s birth…over and over again. To his extreme embarrassment, she even talks about it at the dinner table. Tears well up in her eyes as she tells how the umbilical cord was wrapped around her poor baby’s neck, and the fact that he was pronounced dead by the doctor. But, amazingly enough, Martin began to breathe and his father rushed over, picked him up, and screamed the words that all past generations of Boyle’s screamed when a son was born: “I name you Martin!”
Martin’s mother is a germ-o-phobe who truly believes that Martin and his sister will catch anything and everything once they walk out the door. She is a true paranoid loon who even makes Martin wear a portable air-pack when he rides the school bus, which is supposed to keep him 90% safe from all car accidents. Dad works at the Living History Museum and spends all his time dressed up in uniform, re-enacting battles, and discussing nothing but war.
Charlie is Martin’s best friend, and Julia is the girl of his dreams that he can’t seem to talk to because he’s too scared…opening the door for Charlie to become her boyfriend.
D-Day soon arrives, which is a yearly occurrence in Martin’s household that commemorates the Boyle family dead. Each year, Dad drags Martin and his sister out into the middle of nowhere to Martin’s aunt and uncle’s house. Aunt and Uncle Boyle are a truly hysterical couple who have a three-legged pit bull named Tripod, a mink living in their outhouse, and they spend a lot of time killing and cleaning all their own food. And Aunt Boyle is pregnant.
As Martin looks around the cemetery, he discovers something he’s never noticed before. All the graves read Martin Boyle, the name of all the males in his family, but what Martin has never realized before is that on the date that one Martin died - the next Martin was born. There were never two Martin Boyle’s in the world at the same time. It’s a curse!
With the help of Charlie, Julia, his fantasy stories, and a strange boy named Poole who appears in the boxcar that sits on Martin’s property, he must find a way to stop the curse. If he can’t, then the day his Aunt delivers…Martin will die.
The characters in this story are beyond amusing, especially Mom Boyle who has every phobia on Earth. The author has put together an extremely funny lot, rich in detail, with an ending that is absolutely perfect!
Quill Says: Talk about a ‘new’ idea! This YA novel is fantastically fresh, and readers will laugh hysterically as they follow Martin through his extremely “crazy” world.