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How to be good - A review

February 28, 2008
Posted by mmarvs in : Books
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By Cristina González Blanco

how-to-be-good.jpgHow to be good by Nick Hornby, is an enjoyable novel that makes you think about the behaviour in our normal life. The starting pages would make us imagine that we are going to follow a love history, and how to be good in it, but in fact, it is not only like this, it goes further than that: it is about our relationships, work, family and several aspects of common life.

Katie, the main character, is a doctor, a wife and a mother of two lovely kids. So she is living what it is called a “perfect” life. Surprisingly, after years of marriage she has an affair with another man, and due to this, she is considering getting a divorce from her husband, because she is not sure of liking the life she is living. However, instead of telling him face to face, she does it through a phone conversation. After that, she wants to go deeper in the subject, but her husband David, a not very bright writer, doesn’t seem to be highly interested. Moreover, he wants to live their lives as if nothing had happened. However, his behaviour will change, as he previously was an angry and a bitter man, now he is keen on turning the world into a better one.

For instance, David begins to attend a kind of eccentric healer named DJ GoodNews, with whom he develops a close friendship. In a very little period of time he will end up living with Katie, David and their children, as another member of the family. Although Katie doesn’t like the idea at all, she has to cope with it, maybe as a penitence for her fault. Furthermore, David and DJ GoodNews try to host all the poor children in the neighbourhood, and the rest of the fellow residents are involved in it. In summary, they do plenty of things, some of them slightly weird, in order to change bad things into good ones. Katie insists that it is impossible to make a 180 degrees change in the whole world. Furthermore, the children begin to have a pretty unusual behaviour too. So in the end she is on the verge of exploding because of this life.

As a result she needs to go away of this crazy and odd environment. And she finally ends up living in a friend’s flat, but only for the night hours, because she doesn’t want the kids notice her absence. What makes her feel better is that she can live a bit more free at least for a couple of hours.

As the time goes by, she realises that she can not live in a lie any longer, sleeping alone, and the rest of the day living with the family as a normal one. As a consequence, she decides to come back home. In the end, after a long struggle they reach their goal, living together as a family, but no one knows if they will be happy enough.

“How to be Good” is so easy to follow, that once you have started it is difficult to put it down. The story doesn’t ramble for very long, and the characters are quite well-drawn, so you don’t lose their roles in the story. The writing style is quite colloquial sometimes, so it helps you learn some words and expressions of real life.

I would recommend it mainly because it is highly readable, and for those who are not sure of what kind of genre they prefer this book is appropriate for all tastes. The story makes you meditate whether we are living the life we wanted and expected to live, or we are only going with the flow… Katie, the main character, contemplates this idea all along the book and I am sure that many people might see themselves reflected in her.

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