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About a boy by Nick Hornby
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About a boy (original 1998; edition 1998)

by Nick Hornby

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8,213127381 (3.74)154
Member:jurjanpaul
Title:About a boy
Authors:Nick Hornby
Info:London : Gollancz, 1998.
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:fiction

Work details

About a Boy by Nick Hornby (1998)

  1. 40
    High Fidelity by Nick Hornby (Maurizio70)
  2. 10
    May We Be Forgiven: A Novel by A. M. Homes (millihelen)
    millihelen: Another book where an incongruous group of people come together to form a buoyant, chaotic family.
  3. 10
    A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (derelicious)
  4. 10
    Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts (shesinplainview)
    shesinplainview: both are examples of people who make a family in a nontraditional way.
  5. 00
    This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper (BeckyJG)
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» See also 154 mentions

English (119)  German (2)  Italian (2)  Norwegian (1)  Dutch (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (126)
Showing 1-5 of 119 (next | show all)
I absolutely loved the film of this novel, watched it many, many times, so thought it time to read the novel and compare. The first half of the film is practically word for word the same; but then the film and the book gradually diverge with different storylines - although the outcome is the same, they all live happily ever after.
Not sure what I'd have thought of the book if I didn't know the film so well...
As things stand I liked the book, but preferred the film. ( )
  Sergeirocks | Jun 15, 2016 |
I don't remember it very well, but I did recommend it to my husband, who normally reads mystery/thrillers and sci-fi, so it must be pretty good. ( )
1 vote Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
Even better than the movie -- and I LOVED the movie! ( )
  evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

Will Freeman is a thirty-six year old man who lives off the royalties of a song that his father wrote nearly seventy years ago. Will is commitment-phobic, so when he meets a single mother and discovers that this type of woman is just as reluctant to commit as he, he makes up a two-year old son so he can join a single parents group. Through this group Will meets twelve year old Marcus, a child who is completely opposite of Will. Marcus pushes himself on Will, hoping at first that Will might marry his mother, but later realizing that Will has all the knowledge Marcus needs to help him survive middle school. Together, Will and Marcus will struggle through everyday life and somehow help one another mature.

Marcus's mother has been depressed since moving to London and breaking up with her latest beau. At the same time, Marcus finds himself a target for all the bullies at his new school. Marcus attempts to get sympathy from his mother, but she is so focused on her own depression that she does not see how desperate Marcus truly is. At the same time, Will Freeman, who is commitment phobic, has recently discovered that despite his dislike of all children, dating single women can be beneficial to both him and them. Will has dated a single mother who is so jaded by the breakup of her marriage, that all she wanted from Will was a sexual relationship. This causes Will to decide that the only women he should date is single women. Will makes up a two year old son and joins a single parents support group.

After one meeting of SPAT, Single Parents, Alone Together, Will meet Suzie. Suzie is blond and beautiful. She is deeply angry at the man who left her for his secretary while she was still pregnant with their only child. Will manages to wrangle a date with Suzie, a picnic with the entire SPAT group. Unbeknownst to Will, this include Marcus, the son of Suzie's best friend. During the picnic, Will makes a halfhearted attempt to get to know Marcus, but Marcus has a dark sense of humor that Will cannot understand. However, when Marcus accidentally kills a duck by throwing a loaf of bread at its head, Will wins some respect on Marcus' part by lying to the wildlife officer about Marcus' intentions in throwing the bread.

Will and Suzie take Marcus home. When they arrive, they find Marcus' mother passed out on the couch from a drug overdose. Will accompanies the group to the hospital, unsure why he is there and unable to offer any consolation to Marcus. Over the next few days, Marcus finds himself dealing with the idea that his mother attempted suicide. Not only this, but tension at school has grown considerably worse. Marcus gets it into his head that his family needs to be increased by one more person so that he will not be alone should his mother succeed the next time she tries to commit suicide. To this end, Marcus decides his mother should marry Will.

Will offers to take Marcus out one afternoon to help him through the stress at home. Marcus insists that Will include his mother in the day out. However, Will and Marcus' mother have little to say to one another. However, Marcus is determined to continue bringing them together. To do this, Marcus invites himself into Will's home, blackmailing him with the fact that there is no two-year-old son. Will allows Marcus into his home and even buys him new shoes to help him fit in at school. When Marcus' mother learns of this, however, she jumps to the wrong conclusions and refuses to allow Will to see Marcus again.

Determined to have the right to think for himself, Marcus defies his mother and begins visiting Will regularly. Marcus has decided that Will will never marry his mother, but is determined to remain his friend anyway. At the same time, the truth has come out about Will and his scam to date single mothers seems to have died. However, on New Year's Eve, Will meets another single mother for whom he falls instantly in love. Afraid of this feeling at first, Will pursues this woman and eventually discovers that commitment is not such a bad thing. At the same time, Marcus becomes involved with Ellie, a rebellious girl from his school and learns a few lessons of life himself. ( )
  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
I've been meaning to read this for a while since I've loved the film. I really enjoy the dynamic of each chapter being told from the point of view of one of the 2 main characters. Maybe the this theme is nothing new an adult who has no clue how to act like one and a kid that just doesn't function like one. I've had my share on this matter, but I really loved how things worked, how they interact with each other, how they make you feel with them and sometimes laugh at them. Another great book by Nick Hornby. ( )
  Glaucialm | Feb 18, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 119 (next | show all)
If it's comedy you want, there's a whole hilarity industry busily supplying the world of American entertainment -- except when it comes to the book business, where heroic exemplars of drollery have been a dwindling species in recent years. Despite the boom in waggish humor on television and in the movies, in the United States the comic novel is virtually a dead genre.
added by stephmo | editNew York Times, Hal Epsen (Jun 28, 1998)
 
A follow-up to High Fidelity, British writer Hornby's superb 1996 novel about pop-music obsession, About A Boy (the film rights to which have reportedly been sold for $3 million) is an acerbic, emotionally richer yet no less funny tale. Will (36, single, lonely, in search of a girlfriend and a life) meets Marcus (12, lonely, in search of happiness for himself and his suicidal mother). At first, befriending Marcus is merely an attempt to assuage a guilty conscience brought about by a life of leisure.
 
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Epigraph
Dedication
Love and thanks to David Evans, Adrienne Maguire, Caroline Dawnay, Virginia Bovell, Abigail Morris, Wendy Carlton, Harry Ritchie and Amanda Posey.
In memory of Liz Knights.
First words
'Have you split up now?'
Quotations
It was terrible.  Terrible! But driving really fast behind the ambulance was fantastic.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0141007338, Paperback)

Will Lightman is a Peter Pan for the 1990s. At 36, the terminally hip North Londoner is unmarried, hyper-concerned with his coolness quotient, and blithely living off his father's novelty-song royalties. Will sees himself as entirely lacking in hidden depths--and he's proud of it! The only trouble is, his friends are succumbing to responsibilities and children, and he's increasingly left out in the cold. How can someone brilliantly equipped for meaningless relationships ensure that he'll continue to meet beautiful Julie Christie-like women and ensure that they'll throw him over before things get too profound? A brief encounter with a single mother sets Will off on his new career, that of "serial nice guy." As far as he's concerned--and remember, concern isn't his strong suit--he's the perfect catch for the young mother on the go. After an interlude of sexual bliss, she'll realize that her child isn't ready for a man in their life and Will can ride off into the Highgate sunset, where more damsels apparently await. The only catch is that the best way to meet these women is at single-parent get-togethers. In one of Nick Hornby's many hilarious (and embarrassing) scenes, Will falls into some serious misrepresentation at SPAT ("Single Parents--Alone Together"), passing himself off as a bereft single dad: "There was, he thought, an emotional truth here somewhere, and he could see now that his role-playing had a previously unsuspected artistic element to it. He was acting, yes, but in the noblest, most profound sense of the word."

What interferes with Will's career arc, of course, is reality--in the shape of a 12-year-old boy who is in many ways his polar opposite. For Marcus, cool isn't even a possibility, let alone an issue. For starters, he's a victim at his new school. Things at home are pretty awful, too, since his musical therapist mother seems increasingly in need of therapy herself. All Marcus can do is cobble together information with a mixture of incomprehension, innocence, self-blame, and unfettered clear sight. As fans of Fever Pitch and High Fidelity already know, Hornby's insight into laddishness magically combines the serious and the hilarious. About a Boy continues his singular examination of masculine wish-fulfillment and fear. This time, though, the author lets women and children onto the playing field, forcing his feckless hero to leap over an entirely new--and entirely welcome--set of emotional hurdles.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:43 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A comedy on a bachelor in London who specializes in affairs with single mothers. To improve his chances, he joins a single parents' association and gets a boy to pretend he is his son.

(summary from another edition)

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