76 pages 2 hours read

Nick Hornby

About a Boy

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1998

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Caring and Indifference

The subject of caring, and how much one should care, is at the heart of Hornby’s novel. It is integral to Will’s character development. In the beginning, Will regards caring about things—a job or a family, for instance—as life-complicating “clutter” (7). While periodically embarrassed that he has reached the age of 36 without finding a purpose that drives him, Will thinks a life of self-preservation and indifference is preferable to considering other’s needs. Will enjoys that he lives in “a bubble” of material comforts, feeling that entering someone else’s bubble or letting them into his would risk exposure to harm or outside influence. Nevertheless, boredom causes Will to emerge from his bubble—primarily to meet single mothers. He did not count on becoming involved in Marcus and Fiona’s life, but he likes the idea of helping them out.

He does not take his involvement seriously at first, as he assumes he can bow out whenever he feels like it. However, when Marcus forces Will to make space for him in his life, Will finds himself caring more than he could have imagined. While his idea of caring for Marcus is mostly on a surface level, Will finds that it makes him feel good about himself.

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By Nick Hornby