The Loblolly Boy

No, I didn’t know what a loblolly boy is, either. And to be honest, you don’t want to know too much.

This New Zealand novel is about an invisible boy who can fly. He can be seen by a few ‘sensitives’, but otherwise he leads a lonely life. It’s not much fun having no one to talk to, or never to be seen by others, or not needing to eat or sleep.

You become a loblolly boy by meeting your predecessor and swapping lives with him. You will do this because your own life is miserable. But it’s a frying pan into fire situation, and when you realise this it’s too late.

James Norcliffe, The Loblolly Boy

I almost got annoyed when reading one of the quotes at the front of the book, because I felt it gave away too much. But as I read on, I was quite comforted by the spoiler, and perhaps that was the intention. And to be perfectly frank, I would not have been tempted to pick up this book by either the title or its cover. But as we know, these things can be deceptive, and James Norcliffe has written a wonderful story about looking at what you’ve got before you leap. Things could be worse.


There are some truly horrible adults in this story, but one or two nice ones too. People aren’t always what they first seem. And I can’t point out often enough that you should think before you act.

The main loblolly boy is Michael. He is a nice boy, and that’s just as well. If it weren’t for him, then …

This foreign reading challenge continues to be interesting. Had it not been that I quite wanted to read a recent NZ book, I’d have ignored this one. I’d like to think that the whole exercise does broaden the mind. We must read books from the rest of the world.

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