About a Boy

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1st edition UK hardcover.

About a Boy is a novel written by Nick Hornby and published on 1998-08-01. The story is set in London in 1993, and follows two people: a self-absorbed man named Will who, in an effort to find women eager to sleep with him, pretends to be a single father, and an oblivious 11-year-old boy named Marcus, son of a single new age mother. This is the first work made about this story, it also made into a movie in 2002 and a TV series in 2014.

I had heard about the movie before I even knew it was a book because the girl I was dating around this time 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, I became a fan of Nick Hornby's work and started reading his other books. It took me a long time to finally read About a Boy, but when I finally did, I loved it.

Status

I don't own the book, but have listened to it as an audio book and finished it on 2018-09-01.

Review

Good

  • 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 (perhaps Asperger's syndrome?) is quite funny.
  • 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 guided-missile and more nitroglycerine.

Bad

  • 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.

Ugly

  • Nothing.

Quotes

  • "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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