Book review of "About A Boy by Nick Hornby

Book review of „About A Boy“ by Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby is one of those writers, into whose books you get stuck, once you’ve started reading them. You can’t do anything else until you’ve finished them. Wherever you go, you take the book along, so you can stuck your nose into it, every free second. His stories are, as Hugh Grant says, mostly about “male, bachelor, single London life”. Hornby is a person with a fine sense of humour, and his books contain a mixture of both, cynicism and hope about the people’s desperate-looking situations.

“About A Boy” is about a 36-year-old man, Will, who invents a child to get onto single mothers. He joins a single parents group, where he meets a nice woman. They’re going on a picnic together with Marcus, a 12-year-old boy and the son of the woman’s friend Fiona, who’s considered weird. On the same day, Fiona tries to kill herself. After this occurrence, Marcus turns up at Will’s nearly every day after school. Even though Will doesn’t like Marcus in the beginning, he helps him to get “cooler” and to improve his reputation at school. They get used to each other after a while, Will’s feelings towards Marcus are similar to those of a father, or even better, a friend.

Will is a typical single in his mid-thirties. He’s living of the royalties of a famous song, his father wrote. His life is empty, it’s all about shopping, parties, drugs, alcohol and, of course, women. He’s very egocentric and immature and all he knows about is how to impress other people. And that’s exactly what Marcus’s mother has failed to teach him. She’s an individualist, who’s convinced that you shouldn’t act against your own feelings. And that’s just what the society doesn’t accept. So Marcus has problems at school, he doesn’t get along with the others. He’s too mature, too old fashioned, too shy, too weird, simply different from the others. And with this, Will helps him. So that Marcus in the end is more or less accepted at school and even has friends.

As I see it, the message of this book is that living in a world of your own is the wrong thing. You need friends, people you can trust, people you can help if they’re having a problem and who take care of you whenever you need them. Another message might be that it’s not necessarily the best to teach children being individualists, because on the one hand that often doesn’t mean “be who you are” but “be who I want you to be”. On the other hand, you should also teach them how to adapt to the world around them, to the other people. 31493jel93jhr9m

The book is marvellous. The reader’s feelings switch from depressed empathy to laughter, the characters are very well described by what they do, think or say and they are real in a way. They give you the impression that you could meet them anytime you get out onto the street. I’d advise anyone who asks me to read the book, and watch the film. It’s simply amazing, great work, done by real artists!

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