Thursday, January 7, 2010

About a Boy by Nick Hornby

A friend gave me her copy of About a Boy with the caveat, "it's not a very good book." She described Hornby's book as fluffy and meaningless. I decided to read it anyway - there's never anything wrong with occasional fluff.

While I would not describe About a Boy as award-winning or worth writing home to mom about, I enjoyed reading it. It is relatively fluffy and yet it had a good message.

The plot is largely identical to the movie of the same name staring Hugh Grant. The ending of the novel is different and better than the movie. There are heavy themes involving depression and suicide so I would not hand this book to all readers.

What I appreciated about the book was the point of view and the choice of main character. As a reader it is hard to like Will, the protagonist. He's shallow, he's self-absorbed. And yet Hornsby keeps you reading despite your frustration with Will. In some ways Marcus is as frustrating a character as Will, but as an adult I had distinctly more sympathy for this poor wandering twelve year old. Intermixing the two characters allowed me to read through the Will chapters to get back to Marcus until their lives intertwined.

I give Hornsby credit for writing a non-sympathetic character that I enjoyed reading. His characters felt more real than many books; there were multi-dimensional and flawed.

If you liked reading About a Boy...

I would be curious what else you would recommend. Hornsby's book does not fit the mold of my typical reading so I don't have other similar suggestions

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