About a Boy
by Nick Hornby
Category: Fiction / General
286 pages; ISBN: 0575400951
Rating: 8/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Dan Champion
Will Freeman, thirty-six, does not want children as far as he knows, and he can`t understand why everyone keeps recommending them. He lives in a fashionable, Lego-free flat in Islington, with jam-free compact discs and lots of time on his hands thanks to the royalties on an annually mortifying Christmas song his father wrote in 1938. Will does, however, see the point of single mothers, especially if they look like Julie Christie, which is how he gets involved in a single parents` group and invents a two-year-old son whose absence needs constant explanation.
Enter Marcus, whose parents have split up and whose mother`s tears over the breakfast cereal are getting scary. Marcus`s progress at his new London school is not enhanced by the wrong clothes, the wrong hair and an inherited preference for the music of Joni Mitchell. In fact, the bullies are crucifying him. since circumstances have put Will in his path, and since Will at least knows how kids dress and that Kurt Cobain didn`t play for Manchester United, why shouldn`t Marcus make as much use of him as possible?
Failed and successful suicides aren`t generally considered appropriate central themes of light-hearted comedies of relationships. In the hands of Nick Hornby, however, the result is a readable, entertaining tale of angst, adolescence and insecurity, and that`s just the adult characters. Many men will identify immediately with Nick, the juvenile thiry-something, a man of disposable income and no repsonsibilities. His predatory antics with single-mothers is expertly portrayed, as is his horror when the persistent Marcus weadles his way into his life.
As a serious consideration of the social issues of our time - the break-up of the family unit, single parenthood and disaffected youth - the book is shallow, lightweight stuff. Thankfully it isn`t meant to be, so if you`re looking for something humourous and touching for your holiday reading you could do much worse than this.
Buy About a Boy at amazon.co.uk
Buy About a Boy at amazon.com