About a Boy by Nick Hornby; 1998
About a Boy was my first Nick Hornby novel. I’m kind of confused how I’ve gone this long without reading one. Hornby’s writing is really charming and engaging.
Will Freeman is 36, single, hip, and hasn’t done anything with his life; he lives comfortably off the royalties of his father’s one-hit wonder Christmas song. Will is superficial in all ways, and he’s proud of it. While his friends are settling down and having children, Will doesn’t want any serious relationship commitments. A short relationship with a single mother makes him realize that there is an untapped dating pool for him – single mothers, where he can embark on his new career of a “serial nice guy.” Through a tangle of funny and poorly thought out lies, Will meets odd-ball twelve-year-old Marcus, and his hippy mother Fiona, who make him reconsider what he’s doing with his life.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was funny and heartwarming. However, Will sort of confused me as a character, even though he was probably my favorite. I felt like he wasn’t completely developed. It wasn’t clear to me why he lacked so much motivation to do anything with his life, and why Christmas depressed him so much, for example. About a Boy was also turned out to be a lot more morbid than advertised, although it sort of had a cheery ending. Basically the end message is: we’re all a little bit messed up in our own unique way.