I just finished reading About a Boy by Nick Hornby; here are my impressions!
STORY AND PLOT
‘Hi, Will. It’s Marcus.’ ‘Hi, Marcus.’ ‘Suzie said you want to take me out for the day on Saturday. I’ll come if my mum can come too.’ ‘What?’ ‘I’ll come if my mum can come too. And she hasn’t got any money, so we’ll either have to go somewhere cheap, or you’ll have to pay for us.’ ‘Well .. . wouldn’t it be better with just you and me? Your mum could stay at home and have a rest.’
The book is about the relationship between the 12 year-old boy Marcus and the 36 year-old shallow and selfish Will who happily lives his “meaningless” life, and how they end up impacting each others lives. Both Will and Marcus are in need of help, while not really knowing it themselves. After their first meet, Marcus gets more and more involved in Will’s life, and Will gets more and more involved in Marcus’s life.
Dear Marcus, A big part of me knows that I’m doing a wrong, stupid, selfish, unkind thing. But unfortunately that’s not the part that has control of me now. None of this is about you. I’ve loved being your mum, always, although I’ve found it difficult sometimes. And I don’t know why it isn’t enough for me, but it isn’t. I just feel very tired, and there doesn’t seem to be anything to look forward to. Things will be better for you than they were before. Really. You can go to your dad’s, or Suzie has always said she’d look after you.
The book examines a lot of different themes; the struggles of small families (which Marcus definitely knows all about) the difference between kids and grown-ups, the difficulties of being a kid whose parent is suicidal, but most of all, the theme of the book is friendship; mainly between Will and Marcus, however also between Marcus and the hardcore Nirvana fan Ellie (the exact opposition of Marcus in almost every way).
The first time, Will wasn’t very pleased to see him. He stood in the doorway and didn’t invite Marcus in. ‘What?’ ‘I just thought I’d come round. What are you doing?’ ‘Watching Countdown! Marcus knew about Countdown — the most boring programme in the history of television. But he wanted to get inside Will’s flat.
The story of the book is held in mostly three places, Will´s flat, Marcus´ school and at Fiona´s apartment. The mood is often not described as the book is much more focused on diverging into the minds of Will and Marcus, while at the same time being very dialogue based. The events described in the book were always set in the daytime, or early night.
Will was looking for ways to meet single mums like Angie, but he didn’t know where to find them. Where did single mums go and how could he get their phone numbers? Then he had a wonderful idea. He would pretend to be a single father and join a single parents’ group. So he invented a two-year-old son called Ned.
The book is filled with a lot of interesting characters, all of them being quite different and. The book also offers amazing character development; especially with Marcus and Will, who change each other plentiful throughout the book. Will evolve from being self-centered, cold and immature to, well, get less self-centered, more caring, good-hearted and definitely more mature. Marcus also changes a lot during the book; he gets way more independent from his mom and other people on general, and starts to understand the “norms” of people; the unwritten rules which were unexplainable before.
About a Boy is filled with lots of dialogue, which makes the book very easy to read. I flew through the pages of this book and thought it was interesting and entertaining all the time; I really liked it! After watching the radio interview of Nick Hornby I did believe the book was going to be good but it surpassed my expectations.
I would recommend this book to everyone who wants an easy, yet capturing read.