This was not what I expected, but I enjoyed it; it was so easy to care about Marcus and Will, as well as secondaries such as Fiona, Rachel, and Ellie. The story was about creating (imperfect) family and community, shown from the evolution of a 12-year-old's perspective, and it was about being distinct, crazy-different individuals who all need to first find self-love and self-contentment, and then second, find connection with the right (and imperfect!) people for us.
I was disappointed by the romance element; Rachel seemed less real than all the other players because of her vast importance to Will and yet her short page time.
What really stood out as special in this novel? The friendship between a young-minded middle-aged guy and a old-minded preteen boy and how this relationship impacted each of them. The short chapters, clippy pace, constant (often humourous) happenings, and snappy but real dialogue, as well as the brief, succinct, naturally-occurring insights, all added up to a rewarding read.
About a Boy alternates between the perspective of 12 year old Marcus, and thirty-something Will as they begin an unorthodox friendship. Will doesn’t do anything, and just lives off the royalties from a Christmas song his father wrote decades earlier. Marcus doesn’t have any friends, and he doesn’t know how to help his depressed mother after her suicide attempt. The friendship between Will and Marcus seems odd at first, but becomes endearing, but not sappy, as the book goes on. Like other Nick Hornby works, music is a big part of the novel, with the music and life of Kurt Cobain being a driving force in the novel.
I read High Fidelity when it first came out and it forever changed the way I look at London and Londoners.
About a Boy is a chip off the old block, which is good and bad.
Good, in that there are lots quirky, funny-sad-weird characters. Good, in that the great Hornbyesque humor is there. [The Kurt Cobain finale!] Good, because it is packed with music and musicians.
The bad is that it felt derivative. To be sure, there are some dark forces operating in this novel, which is new. And some insights on men and boys. But the plot never really crackles, and the (lite) characters, though funny and very human, lack the gravitas the plot deserves.
This book was delightful. Upbeat, funny, and lighthearted--exactly what I needed after slogging my way through two melodramatic Wally Lamb novels. Will is so endearingly clueless and although there were some heavy bits with Marcus's mom, the fact that Marcus always thought of that horrible day as Dead Duck Day made it impossible for things to get too serious. Loved, loved, loved this book and will be adding everything else by Nick Hornby to my to-read list.
funny and sad and vintage hornby. i love him.
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