So I’ve been trying to keep things pretty relaxed over at Holville and picking books that won’t do anything to spike my adrenaline. You’d think it’d be easy to find books that fit that category, but it’s harder than you might think. I recently stumbled on Nick Hornby when I read High Fidelity and he seemed to fit the bill, so right after finishing that one I went straight onto this.
I’d never much wanted to read About A Boy after being bombarded with pictures of Hugh Grant playing the part of Will in the movie adaption. To put it mildly, I’m not a Hugh Grant fan- I hate the whole stereotypical English gentleman shit and it was like his mug was burned in my brain whenever I thought of this book. I wouldn’t have picked this up if it hadn’t been for High Fidelity and that would have been a mistake because this was just my thing.
Predominately a character-driven book, About A Boy tells the story of Will, a thirty-something year-old man who’s life becomes intertwined with that of a teenage boy called Marcus. Apart from the fact it was character-driven, which is one of my greatest loves in fiction, it was also told from the perspectives of both Will and Marcus in alternating chapters. I love books that utilise this technique as I’ve always believed it injects freshness into the narrative. The only problem with this technique is that usually readers prefer the perspective of one of the characters and rush through the bits devoted to the other. I, too, was guilty of this and much preferred the chapters that were told from Marcus’s point of view.
So, the story. Will is essentially a man who has no desire to grow up. He doesn’t work and lives off the royalty checks from his dead fathers one-hit wonder Christmas tune. He spends his days watching T.V, getting up with what’s current with the kids and basically doing fuck all. Will believes that single mothers are the cream of the crop as far as relationships go and starts attending a single parent’s support group, even though he has no children. By this point I’m sure you’re getting a fairly good impression of how fickle Will is. Soon after attending the support group Will meets Marcus through a friend and they form an unlikely friendship and ultimately end-up helping each other grow.
I really didn’t like Will at all, although this may have been in part due to the fact I couldn’t scrub bloody Hugh Grant from my mind every time I read Will’s bit. He was a bit of a twat regardless, so I’m assuming that’s why Hugh Grant got the part in the film! The best thing about him was that he helped Marcus and understood him in a way that no-one else could. I also can’t deny that he grew throughout the novel and became slightly less of a twat, so I suppose that’s something.
Marcus was a great character and showed a lot of wisdom for someone his age. He was the main reason I loved this book. I really felt for him and was so glad to see the positive impact Will had on him, regardless of the fact I didn’t much like the guy.
Very well paced and structured I’d highly recommend this book if, like me, you love your character-driven books chocked full of humanity.