May 7, 2013
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I started Every Boy Should Have a Man without much knowledge of just what it was about, other than it was classified as SciFi at my library. The story isn't as simple as a boy (as we know them) needing a man (as we know them), in some way. Rather:
A riveting, poignant satire of societal ills, with an added dose of fantasy, Every Boy Should Have a Man takes place in a post-human world where creatures called oafs keep humanlike “mans” as beloved pets. One day, a poor boy oaf brings home a man whom he hides under his bed in the hopes his parents won’t find out. When the man is discovered, the boy admits it is not his—but the boy is no delinquent. Despite the accusations being hurled at him, he’s telling the truth when he says he found the man aimlessly wandering in the bramble. Nevertheless, he must return the man to his rightful owner. But when the heartbroken boy comes home from school one afternoon, he finds wrapped up in red ribbon a female man with a note around her neck: Every boy should have a man. You’re a fine son. Love, Dad.With something - or a lot of something, at times - to say on the topics of race, religion, war, slavery, what we eat, and more Every Boy Should Have a Man gives readers a lot to think about. There isn't one issue or problem that is then exactly mirrored in this fictional world. Instead, it's the conglomeration of the different topics and issues that make the tale Allen's created so thought provoking. And make the story work.
It's a strange book to review -- some because of the length and all that happens within that short number of pages but mostly for the plot. Every Boy Should Have a Man is a book very much worth reading. The characters, both those that are 'man' and the 'oafs' have very human characteristics that allow you to connect to them right away. There are differences in them - both from us and from each other - that allow the story to proceed - but they're still very relateable characters.
The way the story is told can, at first, leave you wishing for a bit more of wherever the previous part left off but it is very soon easy to see why things moved to where they did. A lot of ground is covered in less than two-hundred pages, giving readers a full view of this imagined world.
Every Boy Should Have a Man concluded differently than I was expecting -- both where the story went and then the resolution it came to. I enjoyed both, though, for what it was for the characters and well as as and ending. It was different from the start of the novel and almost like a different story without a bridge between them (mostly impossible without changing the structure and/or length of the book) but also necessary for concluding things.
There's no doubt this is an original story and one you should read.