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Young Adult Fiction Canada

Boy O'Boy

by (author) Brian Doyle

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Feb 2005
Canada, Multigenerational, Sexual Abuse
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2005
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2003
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 11 to 13
  • Grade: 6 to 8
  • Reading age: 11 to 13


Winner of the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year, the Geoffrey Bilson Award, the Ruth Schwartz Award, and an ALA Notable Books List selection

Martin O'Boy's life is not easy. His beloved Granny has just died, his pregnant mother and father fight all the time and his twin, Phil, is completely incapacitated. Martin is the one his mother counts on.

But life in Ottawa's Lowertown is not all bad. He has his best friend, Billy Batson (a.k.a. Captain Marvel), the movies, his cat Cheap and there's the glamorous Buz from next door, who is off at the war.As the war comes to an end with the bombing of Hiroshima -- on Martin's birthday -- Ottawa is in a state of turmoil. Returning soldiers, parties, fights and drunks fill the streets.

It would all be very exciting, except for one thing. In their endless pursuit of more funds Martin and Billy have joined the church choir -- as summer boys. And the organist, Mr. T.D.S. George, is awfully fond of Martin. But Martin, despite his hardships, has a pure soul and his Granny's love, Billy's friendship, Buz's imminent return, and even his mother's reliance on him, which help him to deliver a kind of justice to Mr. George, and to heal himself and others.

About the author

Brian Doyle is a four-time winner of the Canadian Library Association's Book of the Year for Children Award. His American honors include being selected for the Horn Book's Fanfare List, the ABA "Pick of the Lists" and the New York Public Library's Best Books for the Teen Age. He has also won the NSK Neustadt Prize, the Phoenix Honor Award, and he has been named a finalist for the Hans Christian Anderson Award. He lives in Chelsea, Quebec.

Brian Doyle's profile page


  • Commended, ALA Notable Books List
  • Commended, Cooperative Children's Book Center Choice - Best of the List
  • Commended, CCBC Our Choice
  • Winner, NSK Neustadt Prize for Children's Literature
  • Winner, Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award
  • Winner, Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People
  • Winner, CLA Book of the Year for Children Award

Editorial Reviews

This is a heartbreaking book of uncommon beauty - not an unusual thing coming from Brian Doyle, but remarkable nonetheless because it gets straight to the heart of evil with extraordinary clarity and delicacy, and without a drop of sentimentality.

Globe and Mail

...Doyle's genius lies in the ability to temper his humorous nostalgia with a razor-sharp edge.

Vancouver Sun

...Doyle's writing is consistently lyrical and beautiful. He is able to convey through character dialogue a consistent and clear picture of setting and timeline.

CM Magazine of our finest writers for children...Here's a novel of richness, a mature artistic expression.

Toronto Star

An extraordinary writer, he neatly walks the fine line between tragedy and comedy, almost seamlessly melding them.


Doyle proves he is more than an award winner. He is a daring writer who skates on some dangerous ice, whirls through some complicated moves and is triumphant.

Guelph Mercury

With a writing style that gives a realistic impression of a story told by a child...Doyle pulls in the reader with descriptions and dialogue perfectly representative of the time.

Doyle can suck readers into a world like nobody else...his city neighbourhood teems with moments of vigorous human existence...

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Other titles by Brian Doyle