Nick Hornby


How To Be Good



Been a few weeks since I finished it, so I won’t do it as much justice as it probably deserves (still, it did get an A). Hornby manages to get away with a very tricky subject by giving everyone some room (it’s the issue of 1st to 3rd world). There isn’t a clear moral, and different readers may sympathise more with one character than another. He exposes double standards, but doesn’t stop there (that’s too easy and has been done a thousand times anyway). The protagonist could do more, she’s totally aware of this, but she doesn’t respond by either becoming a saint, or just shutting it out. Or even just with mere tokenism. What’s really wild is that there is a guru and a saint in the story too. And it’s all around a believable family.


It’s not a powerful and challenging book, although he does give the bleeding hearts some good lines here and there. But it keeps the readers there with the players - it’s too easy to lose us by saying the truth about our greed and apathy, we even agree, but we’re not about to do ‘what we should’. Hornby doesn’t stop with ‘his’ ringing point, he doesn’t seem to have one, but he keeps having the conversation, suggesting ideas, kicking things around, not really judging. He allows you to respect different characters who may have opposing ideas - a surprisingly rare thing.


July 2002