Welcome to Day #2 of The Book of Boy Blog Tour!
To celebrate the release of The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (on shelves now!), blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from Catherine, plus 5 chances to win a copy of The Book of Boy!
by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
If I were saint — which, let’s just be clear, will never, ever, ever happen — I’d like my relic to be a barrette. You know: those wedge-shaped, snap-in-place “All-Day Hold Hair Clips” that are metal, and sometimes black, and in my case chipped. No matter how long or short my hair is, anywhere from one inch to two feet, it wants to grind into my forehead and poke me in the eyes. Not fun.
I’ve spent most of my life pushing hair out of my face. Then I discovered All-Day Hold Hair Clips and got my life back. I wear one. All. The. Time. Have spares in my purse, my backpack, my luggage, my travel toiletry kit, the kitchen, on my desk. . . . I’ll pull out a pair of pants I haven’t worn in a year, and dollars to donuts the pockets will hold at least one A-DHHC. So there are more than enough relics to share between the myriad places of worship that might want to honor me. It’s nice knowing that people will be able to venerate simultaneously my All-Day Hold Hair Clips.
Note my use of the word venerate. Venerate does not mean worship; it means “regard with great respect.” Christianity has always frowned upon worshiping anything that is not God. You can pray before a relic, but you shouldn’t pray to a relic. A relic is simply a tool, a shortcut if you will, to bring the devout closer to God, because saints are of course in heaven and thus close to God themselves.
I’ve received some criticism that The Book of Boy is “un-Catholic” in its descriptions of pilgrims collecting relics, often illicitly, and fawning over them. These critics have an excellent knowledge of theology but not much of history, because the Middle Ages were a centuries-long relics mart. Wars were fought, and cities founded and vanquished, for the bones and blood of saints and martyrs.
To be fair, the average medieval Joe didn’t have a nuanced grasp of “worship” versus “venerate,” and didn’t care. Nor did people spend too much energy fretting over whether a specific relic was authentic — if it might be the finger of Saint Whosit or the veil of Saint Whatsit, that was good enough.
Church leaders agreed, on the argument that anything which inspires thoughts of salvation and penance is doing good. I like that. If it helps you to be good, then it is good. [Brushes off hands.] On the other hand, if you’re offered a brand-new Catherine Gilbert Murdock All-Day Hold Hair Clip, decline. Hold out for the scratched one covered in pocket lint. The second one is surely mine.
For a fascinating introduction to relics in the medieval mind, check out Patrick Geary’s Furta Sacra: Thefts of Relics in the Middle Ages, Princeton University Press, 1978.
October Blog Tour Schedule
The Book of Boy
- Pages: 288
- List Price: 16.99 USD
- Ages: 8 to 12
A young outcast is swept up into a thrilling and perilous medieval treasure hunt in this literary page-turner by acclaimed bestselling author Catherine Gilbert Murdock. This epic and engrossing quest story is for fans of Adam Gidwitz’s The Inquisitor’s Tale and Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, and for readers of all ages. Features a map and black-and-white art by Ian Schoenherr throughout.
Boy has always been relegated to the outskirts of his small village. With a large hump on his back, a mysterious past, and a tendency to talk to animals, he is often mocked by others in his town—until the arrival of a shadowy pilgrim named Secondus. Impressed with Boy’s climbing and jumping abilities, Secondus engages Boy as his servant, pulling him into an action-packed and suspenseful expedition across Europe to gather the seven precious relics of Saint Peter.
Boy quickly realizes this journey is not an innocent one. They are stealing the relics and accumulating dangerous enemies in the process. But Boy is determined to see this pilgrimage through until the end—for what if St. Peter can make Boy’s hump go away? A surprising and unforgettable tale for readers of all ages.
Praise for The Book of Boy
— Booklist STARRED review*
— Kirkus STARRED review*
— Horn Book STARRED review
My Review of The Book of Boy
I absolutely loved The Book of Boy. Though I do read a lot of middle grade books, The Book of Boy is very different from the types of books I usually read. It is filled with mystery and adventure. The main characters are wonderfully written, and I loved following their journey. It is a book you may want to read along with your kids since there are a lot of complex elements to the story. I loved the unexpected turn this book took. I didn’t expect it! This is a book I definitely recommend!
About the Author
Catherine Gilbert Murdock lives in Philadelphia with her husband, two brilliant, unicycling children, several cats, and a one-acre yard that she is slowly transforming into a wee but flourishing ecosystem.