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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Stuff, easy to read, 6 July 2004
This review is from: About a Boy (Mass Market Paperback)
Nick Hornby was born in 1957. He is he author of four novels to date (Fever Pitch, High Fidelity, About a Boy, How to Be Good). The first three novels have all been filmed.
Nick Hornby lives in Highbury, in north London. Once married, he has an autistic son.
About a Boy, is about two boys actually: Will a 36-year-old bachelor, and Marcus, an eccentric, introverted, bullied 12-year-old with a suicidal mother. After a pleasant relationship with a single mother, Will comes up with the idea of attending a single parents group as a new way to pick up women. Through one of these meetings he gets to know Marcus. Will helps the old-fashioned Marcus to fit into the modern world.
As the story progresses Marcus and Will make many more friends, which also causes complications. In the end Marcus develops and becomes a "normal" kid. Will in the end turns out as an adult, who begins to live a proper life. So both of them have started to act according to their age.
Another main character besides Will and Marcus is Marcus's mother Fiona.
Marcus has almost no friends and he is told how to live, what to eat, and what clothes to wear by his mom. He is very sensitive but in a childish way also quite nave.
Will never had to work thanks to the royalties from his father's Christmas hit. Therefore he has a lot of spare time. Most of it is spent smoking, watching TV, listening to albums, and looking for female companionship, preferably short-term, sex-based relationships.
But both protagonists change in the course of events.
Fiona is a very depressive single mother, who often cries and doesn't care for her son properly. She even attempts suicide one day.
In my opinion, the novel's main issue is about raising children properly. Of course, Fiona has to do this job on her own, but anyway, her ways of educating Marcus are false sometimes. She wants him to have a critical mind of his own. He should be a non-conformist, but she's not aware of the fact that Marcus lives as she wants him to live. He needs Will to find out what he wants, he needs to get away from Fiona's authority.
The novel also tries to give help to single parents. Hornby tells single parents that they need to look for company, if they want to cope with problems well. Fiona only begins to feel better, when she has somebody to talk to, who really understands her.
About a Boy plays in the London of 1993 and 1994. People, who lived 10 years ago, will come to the conclusion that Hornby succeeded in accurately depicting the society of these years. He refers to the pop-culture of the early '90s, as well as he tells us about the feelings of the young generation in particular. He shows what consequences Kurt Cobain's death had, for example.
I think that this book has many strengths. The plot is very appealing. The novel is narrated alternately by Will and Marcus which I believe, is a very good idea, because you get to know their opinions on the same subject. The book never appeared boring to me.
Often it was fun to read, because Hornby knows how to play with his characters. He also really makes you understand, what is going on inside the main characters, their inner conflicts. The reader is able to identify with the characters and to feel as they do.
The diction of this novel is easy to read and understand. Hornby doesn't write hypotactic sentences and long chapters. Therefore the reader does not have to concentrate that much to grasp the story.
In my opinion the ending of the book has not turned out so well. I didn't like the new Marcus in the end. He had developed from a completely shy and inarticulate boy to a tough guy who then seemed to have understood everything that is going on on the globe and wants to give advice to Will. I liked him more in the beginning, when he was more sensitive, calm and a bit naive.
Anyhow the ending is a satisfying happy ending. Every character seems to know where his place is, or will be, and how he can cope with life the best way.
I recommend reading the book! It is entertaining, illustrates interpersonal relationships in a touching way and demonstrates the characters and 90s' society very well. If you are willing to get involved with thinking about educating children, the sense of life (yes, Hornby also talks about that), what the nature of true love is or single families then read this novel!
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