Nick Hornby was born in 1957. He is the author of four international bestsellers; About a Boy, High Fidelity, Fever Pitch and How to be Good. In 1999 he was awarded the E.M. Forster Award by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives and works in Highbury, north London. In 2002 About a Boy was made into a film. The film follows Hornby's book closely, taking a lot of conversations directly from the book to the film. It only differs from the book in a few scenes, this is mostly because of differences in what would make Will “cool” in 1993 and 2002.
About a Boy takes the reader to London, in the year 1993. Here we get a view in to the lives of Marcus, the oldest twelve-year-old boy in the world and Will, the 36-year-old who still acts like a teenager. In the beginning these to widely different boys live separate lives with no connection to each other in any way.
Will is an immature, single man who reads the right magazines, knows what clothes to wear and has the right hair cut. Apart from this he doesn't really do anything, and he doesn't want to do anything much either. Since his father wrote a famous Christmas song several years ago, and later passed away, Will gets all the money he needs by living off the royalties.
Marcus is a weird kid. He has the wrong hair cut, wears the wrong clothes and while most twelve-year-olds listen to music like Nirvana and Snoop Dogg, Marcus prefers Mozart and Joni Mitchell. Worst of all is the fact that he suddenly, without warning and without noticing himself, starts singing out loud in the middle of class. Marcus just wasn't right for schools, not secondary schools, in any case. Marcus' mother, Fiona, is clearly a depressed, suicidal hippy who spends most of her time crying.
After introducing these two boys' lives, the time for them to meet has come. It happenes after Will invented a imaginary two-year-old boy of his own and joined SPAT - Single Parents Alone Together - with one objective; to find single mothers to date. This starts out great. Will meets Suzie, a good looking single mother. At a SPAT picnic in a park, Will meets Marcus for the first time. Marcus has joined Suzie at the picnic to give Marcus' mother some time alone. The picnic ends and Will drives Marcus home together with Suzie. When they arrive they all go inside where they find Fiona lying in her own vomit after a suicide attempt. They all rush to the hospital. Fiona recovers, but Marcus is having trouble coping with the event. Up until now the relationship between Will and Marcus is close to non existent. They both seem uninterested in further contact with each other. After a few more encounters, Marcus, suddenly and without warning or invitation, starts visiting Will at his apartment. At first they only watch some television together, but this develops into longer visits where they have both meaningful and meaningless conversations. Their relationship keeps developing and they become close friends, talking about big and small events in their lives. Will helping Marcus with his image problems, and Marcus helping Will with finally growing up and becoming a mature man, even though Marcus doubtfully is aware of this himself.
In their lives, which now have a connection, they both make new relationships with others. But most of these really aren't that important to the story. One exception is Marcus' relationship with Ellie, the rebellious, three year older girl from his school. She helps Marcus become a teenager, breaking rules and defying authorities. Marcus really never does anything wrong, but by accompanying Ellie on her many encounters with the authorities, he develops into a little rebel himself.
Hornby gives us a view into Will's and Marcus' lives by placing us inside their heads and listening to their thoughts. I find this the most enjoyable and brilliant thing about the entire book. By telling the story this way, you can better understand their actions and lives. I have never felt this connected to a fictional character in book before. I simply love the long, often several pages long, even entire chapters of internal monologues. And when the story isn't taking place in the minds of these two boys, it is often a conversation between the two of them, or between one of them and someone else. At least one of them are present in the story at all times This makes the plot narrow and focused, something I like. You get only relevant information of importance to the development of our two main characters.
By the end of the book, both Will and Marcus have confronted and dealt with lots of the conflicts and problems they had had before. Marcus has become accepted and he feels more right for schools. After advice and guidance from Will, his haircut and clothes are now right and most important of all, he has friends that care about him. Will has also matured and developed, from being the “couldn't care less about other people” 36-year-old boy, into a caring and involved 36-year-old man, who means something to someone else than himself.
When we leave our two men, the future is looking bright for both of them. Will has the first girlfriend he has ever really cared about. And Marcus has a new attitude and new friends, which together helps him feel like a more normal and accepted person. With the last sentence in the book - “Will knew then, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that Marcus would be OK.” - Hornby describes the changes that both of them have gone through. Will is finally shown as a person who really cares about Marcus' future, while Marcus is simply shown as a person who has adapted and now will be OK.
Even though Hornby's meaning isn't put on display, it doesn't require a lot of contemplation before you get it. What Hornby has been trying to tell us all along is that no matter how hopeless a person is, there is always a way of changing and developing into someone better and more successful. Something that helped me understanding this, was that I was able to imagine myself in the place of both Marcus and Will on several occasions. At times, I felt that Hornby had taken my own thoughts and written them down. It was truly amazing to read something , that I could relate to at such an extent.
Personally I found About a Boy very enjoyable. The same thing goes for the film with the same name. They both tell a touching story about two boys maturing towards becoming men. The book is especially great for people who have seen the film and liked it, because it gives you a much more thorough view into the lives of the main characters. In the end I found myself quite fond of both Will and Marcus, our two men.