Nick Hornby
About a Boy
Book Review by Author/Illustrator Ross Anthony

I'd seen the movie and loved it: humor and heart, blunt honesty about tricky real life situations, personal growth. What's not to love? So when I stumbled across the screenplay, I bought that too. An enjoyable read on its own, and one better -- it came with notes by the directors. They talked about the challenges involved in adapting the book to the screen. All fascinating, but when the Weitz brothers wrote "It would be redundant to say that the end of the film is less novelistic than the book," that was that, I had to read the book.

Surprisingly, the film and book are quite similar up to just about exactly halfway - page 150. The filmmakers did a great job of adapting Hornby's narrative style to film using the dual voice over thoughts of Marcus and Will. In the book, these expressions are part of the "author omniscient" narrative. In most other literary expressions, this narrative is a distinct voice of its own, but in Hornby's book the voice of the narrator takes on the personality of whomever it's talking about at the time. And in "About a Boy," that's most often Marcus or Will, so the film translation VOs makes sense. Reading the novel takes a second to get used to, because the narrative sounds like the character is talking about himself, but really it's the author talking about the character, apropos poor grammar and all. Strange, but it works.

So anyway, I enjoyed the book up to the halfway point in a "reliving the movie experience" kind of way. But, at that halfway point, the experience changed. It felt like a new work. I become completely enthralled and could not put it down until I finished it. Yes, the book ends differently -- there isn't even a school talent show. But, the biggest difference is that the character of Ellie and her relationship with Marcus enjoys greater development. I appreciated that. Additionally, far more subtle insights into Will's transition into humanhood are granted. As a matter of taste, I like the film's ending better, but that's not to say Hornby's ending is weak. It's a great book any way you slice it. I laughed out loud, I teared up a few times, and (despite not having a life similiar to these people) I felt "connected" as a human. What more can you ask for than that?

Read more Book Reviews by Author/Illustrator Ross Anthony.

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Copyright © 1998-2023 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

Last Modified: Sunday, 05-May-2013 09:56:24 PDT