There are few surprises as Justin, the average kid, gets to know Michael (the Buddha boy of the title). What surprises there are in this novel come as Michael's history is explained and how he comes to believe what he believes. Through Michael, whose spiritual name is Jinsen, teaches Justin is a basic Buddhist truism--everyone wants to be happy. This is never directly addressed. Whatever moral lessons may lie in the pages of this book reveal themselves without being stated outright. The title obviously suggests that there is some spirituality involved within the story and there is no denying that some Buddhism is mentioned but it is not detailed enough to convert anyone. Even the protagonist, after asking his father if they can visit a Buddhist temple, never goes to one. There is no discussion of meditation or the Four Noble Truths, although these are mentioned. And how Jinsen becomes a Buddhist is not typical of religious converts.
It’s nice to find a deeply spiritual character who is not trying to convert nor acting crazy. Odd that this should be refreshing, when one really thinks about it. It would be nice to see more novels in which spiritually strong characters are just like the rest of us, only different. You know . . . like the rest of us.