My Reading Of About A Boy

About a boy is a book written by Nick Hornby and released in 1998. I am now going to give you a review of my read of this book.


Will couldn´t resist it: he had a theory he wanted to test out. “Hey, Fiona. Why don´t you get your sheet music out, and we can murder Both Sides Now´” “Would you like to?”

“Yeah. Sure.”

“Please, Mum. Don´t”

“Don´t be silly. You love singing. You love Joni Mitchell.”

“I don´t. Not anymore. I bloody hate Joni Mitchell.”

You see the theme here especially clear. The theme throughout the story of the book is growing up. In this quote, you read that Marcus finally manages to stand up against his mother and you can see that her influence over him and his actions has weakened over time. In the first part of this quote, you can tell that Will is testing whether Marcus actually has changed and become more independent from his mother. Another theme in this book is depression and suicide. Marcus has throughout the book done anything possible in order to make his mum happy and proud, the only problem is that it doesn´t really help her in the long term. Towards the end, Marcus realizes that he has sacrificed a lot just to make her a tiny bit less miserable. The theme of depression and suicide can be shown in the quote underneath:

His mum was half on and half off the sofa: her head was lolling towards the floor. She was white, and there was a pool of sick on the carpet, but there wasn’t much on her-either she´d had the sense to puke away from herself, or she´d just been lucky. In the hospital, they told him it was a miracle she hadn´t choked on her own vomit and killed herself.


The story of “About A Boy” is set in London in 1994 in Marcus and his mum´s flat to pinpoint according to the book:

“Flat 2, 31 Craysfield Road, Islington, London, N1 2SF, England, the world, the universe.”


Marcus is a boy who lives in London in a flat with his single mother. Marcus is described as an introvert by his suicidal mother. At school, he gets teased for wearing cheap clothes and for his interests, particularly his taste in music. Will is a 36-year-old careless bachelor who lives by himself. He prides himself with being a cool and trendy guy. One day Will figures out that there are a lot of single mothers who would like some company, so he fakes being a single father in order to join the local S.P.A.T. club where he meets a woman he starts dating. The woman is a close friend of Marcus´mother and after a date with Will and Angie accompanying Marcus and Angie´s daughter, they discover Fiona who has passed out, lying on the couch in her own vomit. Will and Marcus become friends later on, and Will helps Marcus to adapt to 1990s youth culture by for example buying him Adidas trainers. The turning point is when Marcus and Ellie take the train in order to visit him, but Ellie who is depressed and drunk after the news of Kurt Cobain’s death gets in trouble. Later Will comes to rescue Marcus at the police station. roughout the story, both Will and Marcus become engaged in relationships. Will ends up with a woman called Rachel, and Marcus ends up with Ellie. When I read the novel, I saw the progression in both Will and Marcus´lives. Will become less selfish and Marcus become more social and independent. These quotes from the book describe the plot well:

“No man is an island…”

The quote above shows a conflict between Will´s early views on what is important and the people trying to convince him that there is more to life.

That was his mother. When she wasn’t crying over the breakfast cereal, she was laughing about killing herself.

A fitting description of Fiona´s mental state.

“I can’t be here to watch you all the time”

Marcus tells his mother that he is tired of taking care of her and that he needs to take care of himself.

“I bloody hate Joni Mitchell”

Marcus opposes his mother’s interests, which goes to show how much he has changed and grown up.

Character Development

At the beginning of the book, Will does not really have any tight-knit relations to others, he usually has short affairs and breaks them off before anything serious takes place. Will is a selfish person and don´t care much about others, even though he is invested in looking good at all occasions. Will views himself as an island.  When will and Marcus meet, Will starts changing his opinions on his isolation. Thanks to Marcus Will finds love at the mid-to-late story. And then there is Marcus. Marcus is at the beginning of the story, an insecure and introverted boy and he is being treated poorly both at school and at home. At school, he is being targeted by bullies and at home, he has to suffer at the hands of his deranged mother. Marcus is very committed to making sure that his mum is happy, even in the short term. Marcus turns into a cooler and more social version of himself throughout the book. His insecurities disappear because he knows that he would not be alone without his mother. He meets a lot of new friends and a girlfriend. When I read I saw the similarities between Marcus and Will and I think they helped each other in many different ways.

Examples of character development throughout the book:


“People often thought Marcus was being funny when he wasn’t”


“What you singing, Fuzzy?”


But one thing had changed… he was alone; now, there were loads of people”


“I bloody hate Joni Mitchell”


His career as a serial nice guy had begun


Will had spent his whole life avoiding real stuff


Will had never wanted to fall in love

My impression of About A Boy

I believe that the novel was better than I expected. I like the philosophy and the message. What I got from it was that you should be able to carry yourself but also have others who can do the carrying for when you are not able to. I also think that the book was quite hilarious and pretty relatable in some areas. In the “My first impression” task, I wrote that I didn´t really like novels, but I got to tell you that this one is better than other ones I’ve read, so much so that I actually watched the movie as well. The story is really one to my liking and the way Nick Hornby writes it makes it really good.


2 thoughts on “My Reading Of About A Boy

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