About a Boy

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About a Boy

About a Boy - Hardcover - UK - 1st Edition - Gollancz.jpg

Hardcover - UK - 1st Edition.

Author Nick Hornby
Published 1998-08-01
Type Fiction
Genre Drama, Comedy
Themes Childhood, Friendship, Parenting, School
Age Group Adult

About a Boy is a novel written by Nick Hornby and published on 1998-08-01. This is the first work made with this story, it was later adapted into a movie in 2002. A pilot for television was written in 2003, but it wasn't picked up, but another was made in 2014, and it was made into a TV series.

The story is set in London in 1993 where Will, a self-absorbed lazy man, pretends to be a single father in an effort to find women eager to sleep with him. He initially sees success with his charade and meets several eager single mothers, but eventually he meets Fiona, who is new age and a bit disturbed, and her oblivious 11-year-old boy, Marcus. Will is all set to write them off when he Fiona tries to kill herself. In an effort to help them, he winds up befriending Marcus and learning what it means to be an adult.


Read?Audiobook read by Julian Rhind-Tutt.

I had heard about the movie before I knew it was a book because the girl I was dating in 2002 was a huge fan of Hugh Grant, although I never watched the movie with her. Later, after enjoying the movie High Fidelity so much I bought and read the book, which made me a fan of the author, Nick Hornby. I discovered that he also wrote About a Boy, and I eventually read it too. When I finally did, I absolutely loved it.




— This section contains spoilers! —


  • The book is fantastic. The entire time I was reading it, I didn't want to put it down. It deals with serious issues like divorce, bullying, and suicide, but still manages to be really funny and interesting.
  • Despite his shallowness, or, perhaps because of it, Will is a very exciting character. I like how, even though he doesn't need to work, he still has passion. In the beginning, that passion is just about being cool and meeting women, but, later, as he meets new people outside of his comfort zone, his passion shifts to caring for Marcus.
  • Marcus's inability to grasp sarcasm (it's not mentioned, but I assume he's on the autism spectrum) often leads to funny situations.
  • Ellie meeting the owner of the shop window she shattered was a great scene. It showed not only growth for her, but also Marcus because he realized that she was less of a guided-missile and more like nitroglycerine.


  • The primary female character, Fiona, doesn't have much personality of her own. She's described as being deep and aware, but she's written more as a damsel in distress than an independent woman. She also seems to forgive Will's blatant lies a bit too readily.


  • Nothing.


Strong female character?PassEllie is strong and grows throughout the book.
Bechdel test?PassEllie meets and talks to the record shop owner.
Strong person of color character?Unknown
Queer character?FailThere are no queer characters.


— This section contains spoilers! —

  • "I'm the one who should apologize," he said. "I want to help, but I know I won't be able to. I haven't got the answers to anything." "That's what men think, isn't it?" "What?" "That unless you've got some answer, unless you can say, 'Oh, I know this bloke in Essex Road who can fix that for you', then it's not worth bothering." Will shifted in his seat and didn't say anything. That was precisely what he thought; in fact, he had spent half the evening trying to think of the name of the bloke in Essex Road, metaphorically speaking.
  • He could see why his mum chose friends, instead of just putting up with anyone she happened to bump into, or sticking with people who supported the same football team, or wore the same clothes, which was pretty much what happened at school; he must have conversations like this with Suzie, conversations that moved, conversations where each thing the other person said seemed to lead you on somewhere.
  • This thing about looking for someone less different... It only really worked, he realized, if you were convinced that being you wasn't so bad in the first place.


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