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About a Boy

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Will is thirty-six but acts like a teenager. Single, child-free and still feeling cool, he reads the right magazines, goes to the right clubs and knows which trainers to wear. He's also discovered a great way to score with women at single parents' groups, full of available (and grateful) mothers, all waiting for Mr Nice Guy. That's where he meets Marcus, the oldest twelve-year-old in the world. Marcus is a bit strange: he listens to Joni Mitchell and Mozart, he looks after his Mum and he's never even owned a pair of trainers. Perhaps if Will can teach Marcus how to be a kid, Marcus can help Will grow up and they can both start to act their age.

307 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 1998

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About the author

Nick Hornby

97 books9,303 followers
Nick Hornby is the author of the novels A Long Way Down, Slam, How to Be Good, High Fidelity, and About a Boy, and the memoir Fever Pitch. He is also the author of Songbook, a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award, Shakespeare Wrote for Money, and The Polysyllabic Spree, as well as the editor of the short-story collection Speaking with the Angel. He is a recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ E. M. Forster Award and the winner of the 2003 Orange Word International Writers’ London Award. Among his many other honors and awards, four of his titles have been named New York Times Notable Books. A film written by Hornby, An Education – shown at the Sundance Film Festival to great acclaim – was the lead movie at the 2009 Toronto Film Festival and distributed by Sony that fall. That same September, the author published his latest novel, Juliet, Naked to wide acclaim. Hornby lives in North London.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,786 reviews
Profile Image for Anne.
4,059 reviews69.5k followers
March 11, 2023
3.5 stars

Not sure who I'd recommend this to, but I enjoyed it well enough.
It's basically a story about a fucked up guy with zero substance, a fucked up 12 year old dork, and his fucked up crazy hippie mother.


To me, none of these three were very sympathetic characters. I mean, Marcus was the only one who even slightly deserved any pity.


But even for a kid, he was gratingly dense. I just wanted to shake the shit out of him for being such a pussy! And, YES! I know how horrible that sentence sounds. Ugh. I almost hate myself for even typing it, but that's the way I felt. If there was an award for writing the most annoying pre-pubescent goober ever, then Hornby should get it.
Congratulations, Nick! You made me want to slap a 12 year old!
And now I'm going to burn in Hell. Thanks.


Most of Marcus' problems came from his idiot mother, Fiona. She was so irritatingly harebrained, that she managed to make Will (a morally ambiguous liar) look like an excellent choice for Marcus to run to for advice.


You could totally see where Marcus got his pathetic personality from, so I couldn't help but root for him to grow the fuck up and give her the finger. And I guess that's partially what this book was about.
Growing up, realizing that your parents don't always know what's best for you, and telling them to stuff it.
Although, the Mom in me thinks this is a terrible idea.
Kids, if you don't listen to your mother, you'll turn out just like Marcus...
Look at him! He's a zombie now!


*holds up hands*
Alright, alright! Maybe, just maybe, it's a really good idea to take a hard look at the values your parents raised you with, and decide if those are values that you want to live by. You probably won't turn into a zombie if you deviate off of their path and find our own way.
You should definitely stay away from lunatic girls. Seriously.
Nobody needs that kind of self-inflicted drama in their lives.


As far as Will goes, he's such a non-person that I can't work up any righteous indignation for the antics he gets up to. He figures out that he can probably get a better quality woman than he's used to if he can hook up with single moms. Because, you know, they're a bit more willing to compromise about certain things.
Now, having been a single mom, I should be irate with his character. But, hell, he's probably right.
I'm not saying single moms are desperate, but on the whole, your priorities change when it comes to dating. Or, at least, they did for me. I was no longer looking for someone who was the life of the party, I was looking for... Come to think of it, I wasn't actually looking at all.
But my husband managed to reel me in anyway. And he did it by pretending he loved children and was wanting to get involved in organizing some sort of Halloween thing for the kids in his neighborhood. <--he was a liar but it all turned out ok.

Will, however, did a bit more than pretend he enjoyed the company of children. He invented an imaginary kid of his own and then infiltrated a single parent's group in the hopes of getting a date with a vulnerable attractive mother.


Now, over the course of the book, everyone grows and changes a bit.
Will matures enough to face up to his insecurities, Marcus grows enough to stop letting his mother's weird beatnik stink permeate his life, and Fiona grows enough to...
Well, Fiona is still a fucktard, but at least she isn't crying every five minutes by the end of the book.

Thing is, that's sort of how life goes. Not everyone is special, cool, or awesome, and we all have issues that make us unlovable and odd.
I guess one of the things we have in common is that we all hope to make a few friends along the way, and maybe even grow a bit before it's all over.
Or not.

Profile Image for Orsodimondo.
2,191 reviews1,819 followers
July 31, 2021

Il film del 2002 è costato circa 30 milioni di dollari e ne ha incassati al botteghino 130.

Best seller che scommetterei continua a vendere, questo libro di Hornby ha qualcosa di genialmente divertente.
Ma per quanto io abbia letto il libro prima di vedere l’adattamento cinematografico, per me vive soprattutto di riflesso all’ottimo film che ne è stato ricavato quattro anni dopo la pubblicazione (1998, e quindi, 2002).

Il divano di casa è uno dei posti che Will preferisce e l’educazione di Marcus comincia proprio dal divano guardando i film ‘giusti’.

Film diretto dai fratelli Weitz -che secondo me qui hanno dato il loro meglio - e interpretato da un magistrale Hugh Grant, che si va dimostrando sempre più attore di autentica bravura, soprattutto quando in parti di bastardo, ribaldo, figlio-di-puttana, che sono quelle che lo stimolano di più (mi verrebbe da dire a partire dal primo Diario di Bridget Jones, quindi da circa una ventina d’anni). Gentlemen di Guy Ritchie è lampante esempio di ciò.
Accanto a Grant, la sempre eccellente Toni Colette, madre single suo malgrado (con tendenze suicide) del giovane Nicholas Hoult, che all’epoca delle riprese del film aveva la stessa età del personaggio letterario, dodici anni, ma già con varie esperienze di recitazione alle spalle, e molte altre davanti, a seguire questa.

Fiona/Toni Colette ha la pessima abitudine di tagliare i capelli del figlil, oltre che i suoi.

Hugh Grant è Will Freeman, interpreta alla perfezione il protagonista del romanzo di Hornby (che non partecipò alla sceneggiatura), si direbbe che lo indossi come il suo abito di tutti i giorni, con un’aderenza strabiliante.
Will Freeman non fa nulla, non ha mai lavorato, può permettersi di vivere dignitosamente coi proventi dei diritti d’autore di una stupida canzoncina natalizia scritta da suo padre: della quale si vergogna e che preferisce non ascoltare, ma i cui ricavi gli hanno risolto la vita.
Cosa fa del suo tempo? Vede film, ascolta musica, vive gli anni Novanta cercando di essere perfettamente allineato all’aria del tempo, incluse droghe ‘leggere’.
Ma soprattutto incontra donne.

Incontra donne che cerca di rimorchiare, spesso con successo. Questa è probabilmente la sua attività preferita. Se diventa stressante, fa retromarcia, si tira indietro, sparisce.
Per aumentare le sue chance, decide di partecipare agli incontri di un gruppo di mamme single. Per entrare nella parte, Will si inventa un inesistente figlio per trasformarsi in padre single.
Ed è proprio qui che conosce Fiona/Toni Colette madre depressa e con tendenze suicide del dodicenne Marcus/Nicholas Hoult.

Nel cast anche Rachel Weisz.

Nonostante le notevoli differenze, tra Will e Fiona, col tempo nasce una bella amicizia. Ma soprattutto è con Marcus che si sviluppa il rapporto: Will lo prende sotto l’ala, all’inizio tenendo le distanze, man mano trasformandosi in un generoso fratello maggiore. O zio. Un qualche affettuoso parente più adulto. Lo scapolo Will riesce dove madre (e padre) hanno fallito.

Come dice il suo cognome, Will è un uomo libero, e nelle donne cerca divertimento senza impegno. L’educazione di Marcus, aiuta a crescere anche Will, e non sono certo che il titolo del romanzo si riferisca al solo Marcus.

Profile Image for Baba.
3,618 reviews986 followers
November 13, 2021
2021 review: Living off of his family legacy, lounging around in life, trying-hard-to-be-cool man-child Will has found the secret to dating 'hot' woman of his age… targeting single mothers. Insular, and almost on the edge of autism, straight talking 12-year old social outcast at school, Marcus having witnessed an attempted suicide by his (single-) mother, has come up with the idea that he needs to fill his mum's life with a man... Will! From this an unlikely and very readable friendship between a 36 year old man and 12 year old boy emerges.

As I read this book I kind of already started writing this review in my head, saying that as ever Hornby perfect captures a time in London to a tee; using yet again a man-child as a central character - BUT I just didn't feel comfortable on how the cast treated and behaved to someone with certain depression... BUT, by the end of the book I was in awe. So, yes, there likely significant triggers for people suffering from depression, but this book is about two children, one a man, one a boy, and the depression of another leading character is seen through their eyes, especially as chapters alternate between their perspectives. This is a contemporary masterclass taken the mundane and the cliché, with a spattering of mainstream humour, throwing in dead birds and the death of a rock star and altogether becoming a story about modern families, and two males finding themselves in this world.

Yep, I wrote what I wrote, this is a wonderful read - it's like watching an episode of Days of our Lives and realising that you just watched a masterclass in television! If you read just one Nick Hornby book, this is the onw to read; it's not escapist, but it is about change, personal growth and a great starting point for boys and men-children to learn how to live in the real world, whilst being a part of the real world! It's also an easy read, pretty entertaining and quite funny at times. Some of the women characters seem limited and/or pigeon-holed, but what can I say, this is from the perspective of two... children! 9 out of 12, my highest ever rating for a Hornby jam :)
Profile Image for Lee.
8 reviews61 followers
July 20, 2007
I have weird habit of reading books that were made into movies AFTER I've seen the movies. Dopey, right? I don't know why I love to do this. I guess just to see how it all turns out on the other end.

Anyway, this review is pretty straight forward: "About a Boy" is awesome. Like the rest of Hornby's work that I've read, it's hilarious in such a BRITISH way (so dry, the laughs usually coming from some poor uptight Brit's bumbling embarrassment). I also admire Hornby for writing consistently about men in a very honest and entertaining way.

In this case, he also gets into the mind of the eccentric, troubled Marcus, who's twelve and being raised by a depressed hippy mom who sings earnest folk songs "with her eyes closed" (this most spot-on description of Marcus' mother and uncool people generally comes up often in the book and always cracked me up) beautifully. Marcus is that tragically unhip kid who is completely deprived of television and pop culture. We all know him. He gets beaten up and teased, and his accounts of his life at school and at home (the narration tag-teams between Marcus and Will, the immature, lazy hipster that Marcus adopts as his own) are achingly painful.

This book is readable and touching. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Luffy (Oda's Version).
765 reviews757 followers
September 2, 2015
About a Boy is a book that I've dreamed about - a meaningful book about human relationships ( as opposed to adventures) that is to the point and not chock full of rambling and embellishing imagery. Sadly, I'm very honest, and I can't rate this 5/5. The reasons why I like this book and why I can't give it a bogus score are the same. I'm very like Marcus. The old me is like the old Marcus from before he changed at the end. The newer me is still like him. But enough of us.

The titular reference to Nirvana hit me after the umpteenth mention of the grunge band. It was kind of daft, so many dropping references to Nirvana. But though I can see the point, it felt still gratuitous. The tricky thing that Nick Hornby has gotten into was that, it was difficult to pull off treating the death of a real person, more so when he's such a celebrity. I once based an essay on the death of former manager of Manchester United, Matt Busby. A friend of mine told me it was not conducive to a good piece of homework. He was right.

The clear and superbly understandable writing of the author was a conscious decision. It makes me want to read High Fidelity. One distinguishing characteristic of this book is its strong chapters. I feel a lot of thought got put into when to end chapters. The endings are definite, strong, and meaningful. That decision was very apparently resonant around chapters 15 to 18. There are books that have chapter endings such as " she was relieved to find the window unbroken" or " she felt at home here in the doughnut shop". Yeah, I read a quite a few cozy mysteries. But my point is, whenever cliffhangers are propped at the end of chapters in About A Boy, they catch the readers' attention. It was only at the end of chapter 32 that I noticed there were only two cliffhangers in total in the book.

I don't know why the movie version's finale centered about a stupid music day at Marcus's school. I was relieved when the book turned out to be different. In any book, there is a character most responsible for the book to end. A book needs to have an end, of course. In Lord Of The Rings, the person most responsible for the ending was Gandalf. Here the candidates for this accolade (is that the right word?) are Marcus, Rachel, and to a lesser extent, Will. They all precipitated events and the breakthrough, which was the emerging of Will and Marcus as healthier members of the society. Marcus allowed Will to get closer to Rachel. In a way Rachel got Marcus together with Will. It's not apparent, but it's there. So there we have it, my honest review and my honest rating. Bye.
May 25, 2023
This is one of those unusual moments where I have read the book, but after watching the film adaptation, and actually, I've watched the film of 'About A Boy' quite a number of times over the years. I won't lie, Hugh Grant as 'Will' does make me cringe a little, but honestly, his character works, and he does a great representation of a male thirty-something oddity,with way too much time on his hands.

I don't wish to focus on the film too much here, but I do feel that having already known the story, my experience with the book wasn't as exciting or vibrant as I expected it to be. Throughout the majority of it, I had the film playing out in my head.

Marcus is my favourite character. I love how thoughtful he is, how terribly realistic he acts in awkward situations, but above all, I love how he is always himself. There is no sugar-coating with Marcus, what you see is quite literally what you get.

I love Marcus's and Will's friendship, and how they are like chalk and cheese, but whichever way one looks at it, their relationship works. I particularly like how Marcus could visit Will's flat in a sad mood, and Will could read that, so they sat in a comfortable silence until he was ready to talk. Being a twelve year old is never easy, and I think Hornby does a wonderful job of Marcus's portrayal.

This book is funny and emotionally charged, with a range of cleverly created characters, and even though it was fun finding differences between the book and the film, I think I preferred the film just that little bit more.
Profile Image for Gabrielle.
1,016 reviews1,181 followers
November 23, 2020
Nick Hornby’s writing makes me smile. His dry British wit, his honesty, his quirkiness, his nerdiness. It’s all so damn charming! I cannot file him as junk food reading because he is much too earnest and positive: reading his book has an uplifting effect on me and that if definitely not a guilty pleasure.

This is the book that inspired the movie with Hugh Grant, which inspired the TV show with David Walton and Minnie Driver. I will shamelessly admit to liking all 3, but the original work is still the best! I think that the movie and TV show (while it lasted) worked as well as they did because Hornby created wonderful and endearing characters you want keep seeing over and over again.

The book takes place in 1993, which is important in terms of musical references (the title is a wink to Nirvana’s “About a girl”, which is only one of the many references to Nirvana peppered throughout the book) and current events that end up influencing the plot, but not crucial to the overall arc of this wonderful little story. Will is a mid-30’s slacker man-child, living off the royalties of a terrible Christmas song written by his father. He had musical aspirations of his own at some point, but he abandoned them in favor of simply enjoying the lifestyle his inheritance could afford him. In his quest for single women, he winds up at a single parents meeting – and can only justify his being there by posing as a single parent himself… This leads to an accidental friendship with Marcus, a hopelessly eccentric (read: lame) 12 year-old, raised by a depressive hippie mother. This friendship will ultimately change Will and Marcus’ lives and help them both grow up.

Hornby describes some tough situations in this book, and while his style is light, it never makes fun of or trivializes the issues tackled, such as depression, suicide, single-parenthood. I admire Hornby’s capacity to be honest and sensitive about these topics: he avoids melodrama while being very touching, which is not an easy feat.

The narration alternates between Will and Marcus’s POV and they play off each other so well. Will is cynical, selfish and immature. Marcus is naïve, candid and much too literal, but uncannily aware of what is going on around him. Children who are old for their age often can’t relate to other kids in their age groups. Marcus doesn’t want to bother his mother with his problems, as he sees her own issues are taking their toll on her and he doesn’t want to add to her worries. All of Will’s friends are married and have children while he just sits around being “cool”. Both of them are effectively isolated until they meet and find a weird place where they can talk to each other. Their friendship is unconventional but they obviously care about and understand each other the way no one else in their lives does. They have plenty to learn from each other and their evolution is often hilarious as Marcus tries to become a little more hip and as Will attempts to enter into a real relationship with Rachel. I also love Fiona, the wacky hippie mom who infamously sings “with her eyes closed”; Will and Marcus’ opposite perceptions of her never fail to make me giggle.

This is a lovely, surprisingly deep little book about friendship, coming of age, love and family. It’s a heartwarming story that will not change your life nor will it reinvent the wheel, but it’s a pleasure to read and I warmly recommend it to everyone.
Profile Image for Maciek.
567 reviews3,410 followers
March 7, 2015
Like most, I have read this book after seeing the movie adaptation with Hugh Grant years and years ago. The movie turned out to be a rather faithful adaptation of the novel, but featured a completely different ending.

The general plot of About a Boy is well known. Will is a 36 year old single man, who lives off royalties from a famous Christmas song that his father wrote. Will doesn't have to worry about money and work, and spends his life largely without responsibilities and commitments. Looking for a new way to pick up women willing to go out with him, Will invents an ingenious scheme - he makes up a fictional ex-wife and son which are to be his ticket into a single-parent group, where he hopes to interact with eager single mothers. Despite having to constantly pretend to have a family the plan seems to be working, until Will meets Fiona and her 12 year old son, Marcus - who quickly discovers Will's act. Marcus agrees to not expose Will, if Will will teach him how to be cool like he is - what shoes to wear, what haircut to get, what music to listen to. Like it or not, Will takes the troubled youth under his wing - and in the course of their relationship both will learn much not only about one another, but about life itself.

This is a very entertaining and fun book to read, if not particularly memorable. Horbny writes with ease and the novel is full of dry humor and references to the time it was set in (1993). The growing relationship between Marcus and Will is a pleasure to see develop - how Marcus changes from an always serious, socially awkward and culturally oblivious young into a more typical teenager and slowly learns to enjoy life, and how Will slowly stops being the man-child he always was and learns about responsibilities of adults. It is a predictable book, but not unpleasantly so - and although it was probably overshadowed by the film made out of it, it is still worth reading. It'd be a good summer read, without meaning the category as an insult; those interested might consider putting it on their lists for the upcoming holidays.
Profile Image for Samilja.
111 reviews18 followers
December 18, 2007
Brilliant - ok, that's just a bad homage to the Brits but really, this was a funny, sweet book. I'd have given it a 3.5 but with no half-stars at my disposal, I'll give it the benefit of the doubt. Anyway - bought it b/c I was looking for High Fidelity at our local used shop but this was the only Hornby on hand. I'm glad since I saw the movie version of H.F. but not this so it was a good surprise. It's a love story of sorts - but not between lovers. Rather, between a mid-thirties man-child (Will) and a peculiarly wonderful twelve year old (Marcus). It's a book-long question as to just who is the 'boy' in question but ultimately we find maybe both are and again, maybe they're both men as well. The cast of characters also includes Marcus' hippie-dippy, suicidal mom, a handful of Will's female conquests & Marcus' Nirvana-loving fifteen-year-old dream girl (the setting is early 90's London). In combination they tread what could be dreary ground with endearing & funny psychoses, self-righteousness and sincerity. The dialogue is what's best here - you'll hear the English accents and rhythms in your head with every wacky conversation.
Great for a laugh. An easy read.
Profile Image for Lyssrose.
19 reviews1 follower
September 7, 2007
Originally, I picked up a friend's copy of this while watching babysitting, simply as a means of amusing myself while the kid was happily playing with some toys. I'd already seen the movie, and figured the book would probably be something that I could pick up and put down fairly easily.

I was wrong.

See, I went into this thinking I obviously knew the story and the characters - but what happened was I quickly forgot about the movie version, and became fascinated with the story of Will, the selfish slacker who doesn't really have much of a point, and Marcus, the nerdy little boy who makes Will realize that yes, he does.

Once I started reading, I was hooked, and ended up purchasing my own copy, which I quickly devoured in about 4 days.
Profile Image for Janelle.
1,214 reviews164 followers
April 17, 2021
This was a fun read. As I’ve seen the film a few times I was familiar with the characters . The major difference between them is the book being about 10yrs older (ie set early 90s) Nirvana and Kurt cobain are an important part of the story as Ellie is a big fan. The chapters alternate from the points of view of Marcus and Will making it evenly balanced over the two characters.
Profile Image for Michelle.
1,379 reviews140 followers
June 23, 2023

Loved the whole awkwardness of Will, being 36 without kids, a job or a girlfriend.

Nick Hornby always brings his characters to life in my opinion, Will came across so uncomfortable, Fiona was great and Markus really really funny in his thinking process.

Five stars.
Profile Image for Paul.
177 reviews59 followers
September 24, 2021
I love an effortless read with depth. This is an interesting and at times hilarious story with very relatable characters and a delightful perspective on relationships.
5 stars! :-)
Profile Image for Scott Rhee.
1,884 reviews74 followers
January 30, 2020
I can't recall if this was the first Nick Hornby book that I read, or if it was "High Fidelity". It's toss-up. I will say that "About a Boy" is probably one of my favorite Hornby novels. The story is about a spoiled rich man-child (in the movie adaptation, played brilliantly by Hugh Grant) who befriends an awkward high school kid and, in the process, learns how to be a better person and man. Very funny and very moving.
Profile Image for magali she|her.
144 reviews
April 28, 2021
TW fatphobia, suicide attempt and jokes, misogyny, depression, bad parenting, the whole book really

if i really wanted to try and see something, anything , in this book, i certaintly could. but alas i don't fucking want to. No one, and i mean, no one was likeable in the fucking slightest and i cannot believe there are ppl who actually gave this abomination of a book more than one star. Will, for one, is:

- sexist
- misogynistic
- lowkey fatphobic
- honestly a sociopath for all the shit he pulled in the book

every single adult put their child through some kind of shit and put all their baggage on them and then wondered why the fuck their children were so messed up... have y'all seen yourselves? with you as examples it is NO surprise the kids turned out so bad. There ware so many issues in this book and i hated all of them. I don't think I have ever hated a book more than this one and honestly this book doesn't deserve any fucking rights. I had such a bad time reading this shit.

"It takes a writer with real talent to make this work, and Hornby hast it - in buckets." Literary Review

now, why are you lying? This is not talent. where was this book funny? emotional? NICE? NOWHERE. i had the worst experience ever reading this book. from the casual suicide jokes (continuous i might add), to the misogyny, to the fatphobia, the fact that Will lied TWICE about having a kid to fuck some woman because all he thinks about is railing someone (really), single-mothers being described as raging feminst man-haters... eye. This was released in 1998, that was 23 years ago, you can't tell me feminsim was actually seen like that now c'mon. I could go on on, but honestly?... no.

don't read this book. it was awful. i fucking hated it. bye.
Profile Image for Daniel Clausen.
Author 11 books467 followers
November 2, 2013
What a surprising read!

I found this book in the Fujisawa library in Japan. My other choices were D.H. Lawrence and other books that boasted intimidating thickness. I suppose I chose this book because I thought it would be a breezy read. It was a breezy read! A breezy, enjoyable read with a surprising amount of depth and charm.

I had previously read one other Nick Hornby book: A Long Way Down, which was a morbid look at the lives of several people who try to commit suicide. About a Boy shares some of the morbid outlook of that book, but comes up feeling lighter and more entertaining. If I was entirely secure with the word "trash novel" I might call it that--as a compliment of course.

Despite its entire lack of pretensions (or perhaps because of it) it turns out to be a minor masterpiece.

It doesn't try to be overly deep, and it sort of rejects any sort of glib endings or hints at elaborate and deep structures to the world other than: "We're all messed up someway and we do our best to go on." Despite sharing some of the pessimism of A Long Way Down, the book finds ways to be funny and upbeat. It has the basic elements of great fiction: even despicable characters are likable, they go through important changes by the end of the book, and we are forced to come to terms about how we feel about these changes and whether they are good or bad.

So, if you're holding a can of beer or a glass of wine, let's cheer this no-so-trashy trash novel: a light read of great literary quality that also happens to have Hugh Grant's face on the cover.
Profile Image for Laurie  (barksbooks).
1,751 reviews698 followers
December 4, 2009
This was a terrific book from beginning to end. Equally funny and sad but never dreary despite the very serious overtones of the book. Marcus was a peculiar, wonderful boy with a huge burden on his shoulders and I really enjoyed watching him become a stronger, confident person. Will was also great. I loved the fact that he was a such a self-centered jerk and completely content to remain that way. No guilt, no remorse, no commitments. Until he meets Marcus, that is. Their relationship was laugh out loud funny and so very believable. I had a very difficult time putting this book down.
Profile Image for Nastya.
6 reviews13 followers
September 24, 2012
I can't help it, I just adore his STYLE. The way he writes. The way his characters develop. His humour. The ending is somewhat vague, but that is so not the point, the actual point is in the process itself, in Horny's style, his characters whom he has the power to describe so believably that I can see right through them, can understand everything they're feeling; in funny moments which the book is full of. I just laughed out loud several times during one chapter. I fell in love with the way Hornby describes things. I fell in love with "About Boy" almost at first sight. That is certainly a book to savour.
Profile Image for Helene Jeppesen.
688 reviews3,628 followers
February 6, 2014
This is an interesting book with a lot of different characters and character development. It was my first book by Nick Hornby but it's definitely not going to be my last :)
Profile Image for Sterlingcindysu.
1,392 reviews51 followers
May 16, 2017
A very easy, breezy book that doesn't have the (to me anyway) expected ending. I know, I'm late to the party on this one (and it explains finding it at a book sale) but I'm guessing the book was better than the movie. This would be a nice summer read that's a little more serious than the usual beach/chic read.

Very odd cover though.
Profile Image for AZ Book Guy.
167 reviews13 followers
February 21, 2023
Haven’t seen the movie or read any reviews after picking this up at a library sale, but I’ve read Hornby in the past and enjoyed his writing style.
The book didn’t disappoint and there were some laughs but the themes of attempted suicide, depression and immaturity seemed a constant throughout. Will’s plan to date single Moms was a different angle then quickly became overdone so I found myself racing through to move on to my next TBR.
Profile Image for Sarah.
402 reviews138 followers
February 6, 2017
3.5 Stars.

I enjoyed this book a lot more than the first book I read by Nick Hornby, How To Be Good. One similarity between the books though is that all of Hornby's characters seem to be really annoying. But unlike How To Be Good, I actually liked reading this. I wanted to see what would happen with Will & Marcus and I thought their relationship was interesting for lack of a better word. I thought Will & Marcus had two different voices that were easy to distinguish. Will cared about nobody but himself and I thought that some of the things he said and did were absolutely repulsive but he was also very self-aware and I thought that was interesting to read. Marcus perfectly embodied a 12 year old who was very mature because of his circumstances but yet also very naive and innocent because he is only a child.

The story itself focuses on relationships. Relationships we have with friends, family, strangers, lovers etc and the impact that those relationships have on us. Will ends up realising that maybe being intertwined with people isn't such a bad thing while Marcus learns that relationships come and go. If you don't have a solid relationship with your mother, it doesn't really matter as long as you have other healthy relationships with people who support you. Perhaps it's not a typical happy ending but the sentiments are realistic ones. The only thing that annoyed me about the ending was that in the last chapter, Will describes Marcus as having changed dramatically. I know that some time passed but he transforms from being the odd, quirky kid that made him Marcus to being a typical teenager. I'd have preferred if that chapter wasn't there or we got more from Marcus that explained why he changed so much. Throughout the book it was like Marcus had an inability to understand certain things like pop culture, appropriate things to say and what to wear but then at the end he knows what to say, he knows what to wear and he seems to know more about pop culture.

The writing was good enough. The best thing about the writing was definitely the characters Hornby wrote. They were so elaborate and even though the story is quite ordinary, I think everything about the characters were top notch. They were just so three-dimensional and I'm just really impressed with how good they were. I would have liked to have seen a good likeable character but just because I'm curious to see how Hornby would write that character.

I would recommend this book & I would read more by Nick Hornby.
Profile Image for Kylie&#x1f43e;.
72 reviews48 followers
May 27, 2020
“Ellie was killing Katrina, and Marcus was killing Fiona, and they would go on killing them for years and years.”

I love the movie because it makes you feel all sorts of things happiness, anger, sadness and it really makes you think about how hard others have it. The same goes for the book

To narrow down each MAIN character;

Fiona - Fiona is Marcus’ mum, she has no partner, she’s manic depressive and possibly manipulative.
Marcus - clueless, doesn’t seem to think like others, and is basically looking for a father figure.
Will - spoilt rotten lonely man, liar and doesn’t give a damn about others, let alone himself
Ellie - misunderstood, hates the world and us a lost cause.

The minor and supporting characters are equally interesting and for some (like Marcus’ father and partner) they only showed at the end and what I read about them spoke volumes about what type of people they were, in short: not that great or caring.

Out of all the characters I think Will was my favourite. He went from a lying womaniser who didn’t care about others, to actually falling in love, telling the truth and helping Marcus and Fiona out.

Ellie and Marcus’ friendship was a highlight for me since they are complete opposites and it was nice to read about their heart to hearts, gradually towards the end they started to understand each other.

Fiona was my least favourite character, look I know mental illness is serious and should not be ignored but to do what she did (SPOILER) try to kill her self was some what selfish on her part, she has an only child and she needs to think about him, he should be a distraction and help her in some areas. She continuously embarrassed and manipulated her son, telling him to start and think for himself while contradicting and twisting his and her words to get him to end up doing what she wants. I truly felt bad for Marcus but other times I wanted to shake him and tell him to stand up for himself.

The bullies were just fucking assholes, hated them all for giving Marcus a hard time, a hard time at school is the last thing he needed considering his home life. I just wish adults were more understanding of teens and children. The ending was the best part because it seemed as though things were starting to look up and they all became as close to family as anybody else is.

I’m just glad Will and Fiona finally saw the errors of their ways and decided to act like adults... for Marcus, Ally, Ellie and themselves.

All in all it was a remarkable read and I strongly recommend. I’d definitely read again.
Profile Image for Titas .
201 reviews32 followers
March 5, 2016
This is the story of the most immature adult meeting the most mature child. Who's right? Who's wrong? You decide!

First of all Nick Hornby, I bow to thee for your awesomeness! You write like you are actually telling me the story sitting in front of me. As if you have known me for a long time and everything just rolls right out of your tongue!

Will is the cool dude, the funky awesome one who doesn't even have to work; money just falls right into his laps. And that leave him with endless amount of free time to do 'things' ranging from eating ice cream to planning long schemes to bang single mothers (because in his opinion - they are are best) all day! While executing one such plan he meets with Marcus who is always the odd one in his class yet the most mature child in the universe.

This book should not even exist. It is too good to be true! I don't even know how to characterize this one. Sometime it is too funny, sometime it's gut punching. A dictionary full of wonderful characters and a saga of self-realization may be one way to put it.

Do yourself a favor and read this book at least once in your life (just a humble request from a fellow passenger of life)!
Profile Image for Senf Dazu.
131 reviews59 followers
July 29, 2020
4.8/5 - Hammer Buch, mit dem ich so nicht gerechnet habe. Bin begeistert.
Freundschaft. Heranwachsen. Depression. Humor. Kurt Cobain. Und der Sinn des Lebens.
Profile Image for Karen ⊰✿.
1,414 reviews
June 3, 2017
What an absolutely delightful book. I watched the movie many years ago and I have to say that Hugh Grant is the perfect Will.
Hornby does magnificent character writing, but with quite a lot of humour - there were so many laugh out loud moments!
Fabulous audio narration too - highly recommended
Profile Image for Annalisa.
547 reviews1,378 followers
July 2, 2008
I almost find it sacrilege to claim a movie is better than the book. But I'm taking that stance here. No that the book wasn't good. I enjoyed it. I just think the adaptions they made to update the book (it's set in the era of grunge music) were improvements and the cast well played (especially Marcus). Since I didn't read the book before I saw the movie, I kept picturing his interpretation to the character, even when I would not have interpreted it that way I found his version better. About the only thing I liked better in the book was the relationship between Will and Rachel.

But enough about the movie. The book is enjoyable. It's a quick read, the characters are strong in all their quirkiness. I enjoyed watching Will grow from a sheltered outcast boy to one understanding the social set up and trendiness of society and his place in it, learning that what his mom says isn't law (but you still don't argue with your parents) and that maybe he shouldn't always strive to please her instead of fit in. His thoughts and realizations are poignant and interesting, as much as being stuck between a shallow non-committal child of a man and his depressed hippie mother.
Profile Image for Dale.
58 reviews6 followers
September 21, 2007
Nick Hornby is a master of writing a heartwarming book that isn't heartwarming (I mean that as praise, in case that wasn't clear). His brilliant method is to make the main character as self-centered and unadmirable as possible, then make him do something incredibly good, but rationalize his or her actions to him or herself in self-interested reasons.

In this book, an unemployed, consumerist slacker named Will (he doesn't need to work as his father wrote a pathetically embarassing Christmas song, and Will now lives quite comfortably off the royalties) discovers that dating single mothers is a dream-- the sex is great, the women are generally gorgeous, and they generally end the relationship relatively quickly because of unresolved issues with the ex. Will soon joins a single-parent support group to meet more single mothers. But when one of their children, a bizarre and introverted boy, starts visiting his apartment after school, (sorry, the language can't be helped) he changes both their lives for the better. Albeit for selfish reasons.
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