Julie Tillman's Reviews > How to Be Good

How to Be Good by Nick Hornby
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Nov 17, 2011

it was ok

** spoiler alert ** First, I have to say that I love Nick Hornby. When I read "About a Boy" I knew that if I opened the book and there were two pages of words facing me, at least one of those pages would make me laugh. Out loud. And I cried. It's one of my top 5 favorite novels. And "High Fidelity"? Forget about it. Hilarious stuff.

But "How to be Good" missed the mark for me. I felt the characters were unbelievable. David's transformation... GoodNews' 'healing powers'... and the constant contradictions that made up the main character, Katie. She thought one thing and would say another. She'd say something and you knew that she thought the opposite. I know that REAL people are filled with dichotomies, and I don't expect characters in a book not to have them, but there were simply too many contradictions in this story.

It frustrated me that the affair situation never really felt resolved. I also couldn't come to terms with the fact that she didn't really like her kids. And the ending... the very last line? What a disappointment. Here's a story about a sad, deeply troubled family. There was very little humor (or at least laughter on my part) and the ending was so sad. Not even sad, really. Just, "Blah." Disappointing, for sure.

I must've liked it enough to finish it. I think I was hoping for redemption. Not the kind that Katie was seeking... but some sort of ending that was either happy or tragic ... or maybe they would experience some sort of growth. Give me something ... Make me laugh or cry or say "Ah-hah! So THAT is why they went through all this!" But in the end, it was, well, boring. I should have given it one star, but I really do think Nick is incredibly talented. I guess we all have our off days (or stories, in the case of a writer). Would I recommend this book to anyone? No, not at all. Would I buy another Nick Hornby book? Absolutely.
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