Book: Secret Life of Owen Skye

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Secret Life of Owen Skye

Author: Alan Cumyn
Publisher: Groundwood Books

Owen Skye lives in a small village with his brothers Andy and Leonard, their parents, and their weird Uncle Lorne. The Skye boys have a knack for turning innocent events into full-blown escapades.

An argument about girls and God leads to a ruckus, and Leonard loses his glasses in the river. This induces the boys to skinny-dip, and they are promptly discovered by girls who chase them home. There they break out in a mysterious rash that confines them to bed for a week and subjects them to their mother’s homemade poultices. Another time, the boys sneak out on a winter night to listen for aliens on the crystal radio in their snow fort, which necessitates a rescue by Uncle Lorne. On another occasion, a plan to sell old comics leads to a melee with bullies, a boxing lesson from their father, and an eerie moment of truth at the site of a tragic train accident.

Owen’s days are magical and full of adventures with his brothers as they observe the curious world of adults and ponder the secret mysteries of life, death, and love.


Alan Cumyn is best known for his dark, acclaimed adult novels, including Man of Bone, Burridge Unbound, and Losing It. But he reveals a lighter side in his first novel for younger readers, The Secret Life of Owen Skye, in which Cumyn perfectly captures the life and times of his 10-year-old protagonist. With the help of his ever-more-intolerant-of-younger-siblings older brother, Andy, and his pesky tag-along-everywhere younger brother, Leonard, Owen confronts the treacherous Bog Man, who slimes his way through the neighbouring countryside sucking the brains out of cattle, and his equally awful wife who wreaks havoc at a nearby haunted house; becomes comic book hero extraordinaire Doom Monkey the Unpredictable when he’s invited to the birthday party of the girl with whom he’s desperately in love; helps his brothers fend off the unwanted attentions of a pair of pesky sisters who are far too interested in kissing; and finds himself embroiled in an alien adventure in which secret messages are transmitted from outer space and a local farmer’s prize cow goes missing. With a deft touch, Cumyn brings to life all the hardship and heartache of being 10 in this unforgettable fiction. (Ages 9 to 12) —Jeffrey Canton

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