Review: About a Boy

Nick Hornby (1998)

Will Freeman thinks he’s hit on the perfect way to meet hot mommies when he joins a support group for single parents. There are just a few kinks in Will’s plan, starting with the fact that he doesn’t have any kids. No problem, he’ll just invent one. But interacting with single moms means involving yourself in real life and all the messy complications that come with it. Soon, this guy who’s managed to isolate himself from any messy interpersonal relationships, is smack in the middle of a mother-son dynamic that forces him, against his nature, to grow up and be a man. Sort of.

The awkward relationship between Will and Marcus, a troubled teen who latches on to Will, is a wonderfully developed yin and yang. Will, a sort of Peter Pan on the brink of middle age, can relate to Marcus in a way the boy’s even more troubled mother never can. And Marcus, wise beyond his years, learns how to act his age under Will’s tutelage.

Nick Hornby writes immensely readable prose populated by real people; his characters are funny, they’re flawed and you care what happens to them. If, like me, enough time has passed since you first saw the movie based on this book, reading it will be an experience filled with pleasant surprises. It doesn’t even matter if you can’t separate Hugh Grant from the main character in your mind’s eye. It really is perfect casting.

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