Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Book Review: About A Boy

If this title rings a bell, it's because it was made into a movie a couple of years back with Hugh Grant in the role of Will. IMHO, it was one of Mr. Grant's better roles.

Marcus is 12. He and his mum have moved from Cambridge to London, where they are building new life--including a new school. And where the kids at his old school were tolerant of Marcus's peculiarities, the kids at his new school aren't. He's having a difficult time blending and his mother, Fiona, is no help. She is a hippie-type who loves Joni Mitchell and Bob Marley songs, who thinks that paying attention to fashion is a waste of time (people should love you for who you are inside, not for what you wear), and who is a vegetarian. Furthermore, Fiona is having relationship problems of her own.

Will is 36 and has perfected the art of living on the surface. He might not be happy, but he is, he thinks, "content." His father was a "One Hit Wonder," writing a Christmas song (Santa's Super Sleigh) that brings in enough money so that Will has never had to work.

Marcus upends Will's carefully constructed life. In return, Will shows Marcus how to blend in. Both are surprised by love: Will falls in love with Rachel and begins to understand why someone would want to open themselves up to the mess in life; Marcus with Ellie and begins to realize that sometimes toughness hides weakness.

Nick Hornby, the author, alternates between Marcus's point-of-view and Will's. But it is never jarring, even at the beginning before Marcus and Will meet. The story takes place over a couple of months and at the end, both Will and Marcus have grown up. The ending is not as "neat" as the ending of the movie, but just as satisfying. And we learn more about Will's relationship with his father and why Santa's Super Sleigh is both a blessing and a curse.

On the March Hare scale: 4 out of 5 bookmarks.