Where the Boys Are

There are a lot of girls in my family. Not only do we have the powerful 75% majority in our house, but the house I grew up in was three daughters to go with the standard mother-father duo. What I mean is, I'm used to girls, girls are what I know, girls are what (most of the time) seems less scary to me.

I'm not sure when I realized that there was something to envy in having a brother. But eventually it became clear to me that girls with brothers weren't as terrified of boys as I was. They accepted boys as part of everyday life, where to me they just appeared menacing. And the books I read, now that I think about it, didn't do much to change this. Boys in books were either sympathetic, kind, and wonderful, or they were rough and mean and the bad guys. There weren't a whole lot that were both.

Diana and I have both recently read this:

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Now, I don't mean to say that reading about a boy like this is the same thing as hanging around regular old boy boys. That is something, no doubt, it would do most girls well to try. But there was something so amazing about reading this boo. It's about a boy named Crash, who tries to plow through, over, and on top of everything in his path. It seems in some essential way very honest about what it means to be a boy (or at least my imagination of it), and how it feels to be a boy. He doesn't mean to hurt things, exactly, except he sort of does. That's just what he's like. He does the wrong things, he thinks the wrong things. And the book lets him learn what he needs to learn while keeping him true to himself.

Both Diana and I really liked it. And she, let it be said, is someone who has all but sworn off realistic fiction, and abhors anything without what she calls "strong female characters," most of whom wield scepters or secret powers or terrifying martial arts.  I think, though, that her liking it shows that when a book is as true to itself as this is, it can reach just about anybody.

So to all of you, those with girls, those with boys, and anybody in between, maybe give this a try. It could be a good read aloud, or an excellent something for someone who is maybe 10, to read. It can do that difficult thing: take you out of your own self and give you another self to try on, just for a minute.

3 thoughts on “Where the Boys Are

  1. I am one of three girls, too, and had a daughter first. Now I have two sons as well, aged eight and eleven, and I absolutely love it. I like to say that boys are “simple.” And they are. There’s a purity about them that I just can’t put my finger upon — a purity that has nothing to do with “maleness” or stereotype — it’s just simple, I guess. Thanks for the book rec. — I’m wondering whether or not my big boy has read it or not.

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  2. Have you read Chris Lynch’s novel Slot Machine? I thought that was also a good one for visiting boy-world. From a dorkier perspective, but the main character has good friends who are real guy kind of guys but tolerate his dorkishness.

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