About a Boy is a modern novel set in London in 1993. It is told from two different points of view, although it is written in the third person. The first point of view is through the eyes of Marcus, a 12-year-old boy who is considered to be ‘uncool’ by other children, and who lives with his mother, Fiona. Marcus used to live in Cambridge when his parents were still together, but after they split up, his dad remained in Cambridge while Marcus and Fiona moved to London to start a new life. Marcus has a lot of responsibilities for a young boy, since his mum suffers from depression and often finds it difficult to cope with life.
The second point of view is through the eyes of Will, a 36-year-old single man who considers himself to be ‘cool’. Will is independently wealthy, because his father wrote a famous Christmas song years ago, and Will receives a lot of money in royalties. Will has no responsibilities – in fact he runs away at the first sign of commitment or responsibility. While his friends are marrying and having children, Will continues to live like a teenager and feels sorry for his friends because he thinks that they have lost their freedom.
Through his two main characters, Nick Hornby investigates how we mature, and how we react to the problems which life throws at us. In effect, Marcus has grown up too fast and needs to learn how to be a child, whereas Will has never grown up and needs to learn how to be an adult! The narrative moves equally between the two characters, with each odd-numbered chapter (1, 3, 5 etc.) being from Marcus’ point of view and each even-numbered chapter (2, 4, 6 etc.) being from Will’s point of view.