January 3, 2012 (first pub'd March 6, 2001)
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Miles Newell and his family are leaving their Minneapolis home behind, settling out on the Ali Princess, a contraption Miles invented, before it's too unsafe for them not to do so.
Memory Boy charts their course on an uncertain journey across a, now, very different world.
Miles and his family aren't hoping to go far - with gas rationed and their not driving a car, that much is obvious, but we do get to see a lot about how different even just Minnesota has become in the two years since all of the volcanic eruptions.
Memory Boy is told in three stories almost: that of Miles two years ago, around the time of the eruptions/explosions; Miles now; and through another character whose who and when are explained later on in the story. As the book is short (the novel itself just over 200 pages), it's nice to get some of the background while also getting the current story.
The book is short, though. It's best described as a glimpse. A glimpse of what Miles was like two years ago. A glimpse of how Miles helps his family now. A glimpse of how his family interacts with each other - now and before. A glimpse of how the ash is affecting the country - or, at least, the towns the Newells pass through. A glimpse of what different people will do - or choose to do - to survive.
Memory Boy is not hugely complex. It is short and sweet. In fact, it stopped right when I really wanted it to keep going. (I've stared the sequel The Survivors, though, and am hoping that will give me some more.) I do think it's shortness and not have a complicated plot is to its benefit. It will be great for younger readers and also, those who it's hard to get to read. I know someone I have trouble getting to read things and this being short and a fast read, I think I can get them to read it. And then draw them to other books (including The Survivors with it).
Thank you to Harper for my copy for review
Other Books You Might Like: Life As We Knew It (& the rest of the Last Survivors series) by Susan Beth Pfeffer and Hatchet by Gary Paulsen