Author: Nick Hornby
Written: 2001
Publisher: Riverhead Books/ Penguin Putnam Inc.

Hornby takes a rather dramatic leap from where he left off in About a Boy, not in terms of plot, but in terms of sheer scope and maturity.

The book certainly has it's amount of laughs and quirky details, but it will also do fascinatingly horrifying things to your conscience, your heart, and all of the bits of you which spend time dreaming and caring and thinking.

The main character, Katie Carr, is a doctor. She does her best to heal people, for a living, because she wants to help people. She's a basically good person, in much the way that any of us are good people...we care about world events, we recycle, we donate to charities, canned goods at Thanksgiving, try to think good thoughts about those around us, etc.

And she's having an affair, because she just can't deal with her husband's self-centeredness and vitirol anymore.

And then suddenly, one day, her husband "sees the light", and decides to become good. Entirely good. In that he no longer understands sarcasm, doesn't say bad things about people, give's away the children's computer to a shelter, and starts a program to get the other homes on the street to take in homeless teenagers.

Not to mention bringing the mentor of this "goodness" into their home.

The daughter apes the father in an attempt to one up the brother and irritate him, the brother turns to theivery at school as an attempt to strike back.

And Katie tries to remember what happiness truly is. What marriage means, after you've been doing it a while. What part love has in anything. How selfish we're allowed to be, as civilized people, when people are starving on the streets, and people in Africa don't have dishwashers.

There are no answers in this book. Just a lot of very difficult, but very worthwhile questions.

Is goodness reconcilable with being comfortable, or even happy? Is love really the same thing as charity? Is being good more important than your relationship with your wife, or your children, or other people around you? What is the price of civilization?

Care to be overwhelmed? Pick up this book.

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