The Graveyard Book is a coming of age story. Not your typical one though. Firstly, most coming of age stories are about a kid who goes through a trial and grows as a person and realizes they are no longer a child. Yeah, this story has one of those, but it isn’t the story itself. The story itself is about a boys life between ages one and a half and fifteen. We literally see him ‘come of age’.
Secondly, and most importantly, this story is about a boy who grows up in a graveyard. He finds himself out of his crib and scurrying off into the night when he is awoken by the sounds of his family being murdered, although he doesn’t know that at the time. He is just a toddler who managed to escape from his bed and saw an inviting open door out onto the street.
He is raised by two ghosts, Mr. and Mrs Owens who name him Nobody, Bod for short, and his guardian Silas, who is not quite a ghost. The Graveyard Book is about Bod’s life in the graveyard, and what he learns from the dead.
I adored this book. And I don’t even usually use words like adored. I don’t tend to ‘adore’ things at all really. But that is exactly how I felt about this. It has everything that a good children’s book should. It doesn’t leave out the pain that kids feel when they lose a friend or are bullied or get frustrated because they can’t understand the world and no on will explain it to them. I never thought that a book about a kid who is raised by ghosts in a graveyard could accurately depict everything I ever felt as a child. I was wrong. It’s wonderful.
I would recommend this to anyone of any age. On the back there is a quote by Kirkus Reviews that says, “Wistful, witty, wise- and creepy. This needs to be read by anyone who is or has every been a child.” It is totally true. I would have loved this book when I was a kid. I am actually pretty sad that it didn’t exist back then, I could have used it. I suppose books come to you when you need them though, don’t they?
Also, the paperback that I have has illustrations in it by Dave McKean that are absolutely gorgeous.
It even had a copy of his speech that he gave when The Graveyard Book won the Newbery and it is so good. I even did a post about my favorite quotes from it here 🙂
Bonus of having a physical copy and not an audiobook: quotes!