Full Book Summary
The 12-year-old Marcus has recently moved to London with his mother, Fiona, and he is forced to sit and watch as she deals with the unfortunately expected series of unsuccessful rebound relationships. Marcus, however, cannot quite figure out why his mother is sad, though he knows she is. He is hopeful, however, that her mother will meet the right person.
We moved sw
iftly on to the perspective of another, Will Freeman. We begin by seeing Will fill out a magazine questionnaire in which we see his traits exhibited when he awards himself five points for sleeping with a woman he did not know very well in the past three months.
Will is a fortunate person who has a father that hit rich when he wrote a Christmas song some years ago, meaning he can simply coast through life without a care in the world. Will thinks of his friends John and Christine, who have two children, and how, on a visit to their house, he couldn’t ignore the clutter. He cannot understand how anyone can live in such a state, blinded by his wealth and so forth. He then thinks of Jessica, a girl he used to court, and how, though they are still friendly, she is highly critical of his lifestyle.
Returning back to Marcus, we see how the new move isn’t successful school-wise. Marcus is quiet and antisocial but the supportive words from his mother encourage him to push through until all is normal. Marcus begins a day with double mathematics, which he isn’t averse to as he generally enjoys the subject.
However, when it comes to English, Marcus is exploited for his habit of unintentionally singing. The teacher, young and inexperienced but desirous of approval from her students, uses him as an example of someone who is mad when they are discussing which characters in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. However, Marcus is aware of why the teacher did so, knowing himself to be the only person more nervous than she.
Returning back to Will, we see him meet a woman named Angie and manage to schedule a date. On this date, Will ascertains that Angie has children. He desperately wants to escape but manages to keep himself in the scenario by reminding himself that he has never dated a mother before.
Angie then informs Will that it is a common trend in single mothers to dislike men, something that makes Will want to prove the trend wrong. Angie eventually breaks up with Will but this only causes him to spiral into a mission, dating single mothers exclusively.
Marcus sees his mother cry before breakfast, which concerns him. By this point, Marcus has managed to make two friends, Nicky and Mark, two people that share in his nervousness, all hiding in the form room instead of wandering the halls. However, though their friendship seems strong, both Nicky and Mark tell Marcus that he is too much of a bully magnet, meaning they will stop socialising with him.
Will schemes and pretends to be a single father in order to attend a single parents’ group, fabricating a son, Ned. However, when he arrives, he is dismayed to learn that this social group are not partying or laughing about, but nearly nonexistent. He sees one woman, Frances, preparing a table with drinks and so forth.
The others begin to arrive and Will is introduced by Frances. One woman, Suzie, catches his eyes for her appearance and her amiability. Suzie tells Will about her husband Dan leaving her a few days before her daughter Megan was born.
Marcus is sent to stay with his father and his new girlfriend, Lindsey, in Cambridge. Not much goes off in the university town but they do spend a day visiting Lindsey’s mother in Norfolk. Marcus is given £5 by Lindsey’s mother and they get on extremely well. However, this period of bliss is ruined when Marcus returns to his London school and is bullied whilst in a newsagent.
They push him around and stuff his pockets with various bits of food but the newsagents owner, Mr. Patel, informs him that he needn’t worry as he saw everything and that he should avoid them at school. Marcus returns home to find his mother on the floor watching cartoons and she tells him that he is going to a picnic in Regent’s Park next Saturday organised by SPAT (the single parents’ group infiltrated by Will).
Will also goes to picnic with Suzie and Megan and he tries to ignore the feelings of awkwardness though it is difficult to do so. Whilst he and Suzie talk about relationships, and he feels he is finally making the move to another stage with Suzie, but Marcus sudden to appears and announces that he thinks he has killed a duck.
The keeper is angry, naturally, and knows that either Will or Marcus killed it. He assumes that Marcus is Will’s son but Will does not deny anything. He protests that Marcus only did so to sink the already dead duck as it was upsetting Megan.
Marcus then thinks he sees his mother standing before them smiling, even going as far to tell Suzie that his mother has arrived, but when he looks again, she isn’t there. Suzie then takes Marcus home with Will and Megan but they find Marcus’ mother upon the sofa, her head angled down towards a pool of vomit. Will calls an ambulance.
Suzie accompanies Fiona to the hospital whilst Will drives Marcus and Megan. Upon arrival, Marcus finds Suzie in the waiting room. She tells them that Fiona has been taken away to have her stomach pumped. They wait and, whilst waiting, observe those who come into the A&E department. Will feels that people need to care for themselves more. A woman then tells them that Fiona will be kept overnight and Marcus is made to stay with Suzie.
Will then begins to wonder if Fiona and Marcus need him and he begins to construct a possible future in his head where he has bonded with Marcus and built a romantic relationship with Fiona.
Marcus then telephones Will to tell him that Suzie has confirmed that he will take him out for the day, but Marcus insists that he should take out his mother as well. They both arrange to meet the next Saturday and Will manages to weasel his way out of producing a real life Ned.
Whilst he is waiting for Will to pick him and his mother up, Marcus imagines that Will could be the perfect candidate for his mother and he ponders how he can make it happen. He then debates that Fiona and Will could have another child. Marcus has been secretly following Will to figure out where he lives and what he does and he tells his mother that he desires to go to Planet Hollywood in the hopes of meeting a celebrity.
Will introduces himself to Fiona on this second meeting and Marcus feels proud of his mother, seeing her in her best attire. All agree that Planet Hollywood is to be the destination. However, when they arrive, they find that the queue is too long and so choose Twenty-Eight to be their eatery for the day.
However, whilst dining, Will is thinking that Fiona is not his type, instead being fond of tall and long-haired women whilst he reckons Fiona to be something of a hippie. Fiona invites him to supper a few days later and Will agrees. He finds the food mediocre but is made especially sure of the fact that he does not consider Fiona a suitable partner when she begins to sing and play the piano.
Some time later, Will is visited by Marcus. Marcus makes it known that he is aware of Ned’s intention. Will cannot cover for his lies and Marcus decides to spend more time with Will, watching Countdown. On one of these occasions, Marcus opens up to Will to tell him about his hatred of school.
Will inquires if there are bullies and Marcus undersells their effect on him but he still tells him about his habit of mistimed singing. Marcus is also concerned that his mother may try to commit suicide again, as she did on the night of the picnic. He visits Will in order to postpone his return home. Marcus is also afraid to admit that he thinks about that night all the time and Will identifies his fears, allowing him over more often.
One night, Will hears loud banging on his window and the ringing of his doorbell and opens the door to see Marcus being attacked by two older boys with hard sweets. Will swears at them and tells them to shew. Will decides that he will take Marcus out to buy him some new trainers and he does purchase him a pair of £60 Adidas ones. However, the next day, Marcus comes to Will’s house in his socks, declaring his new shoes to have been stolen.
Will takes Marcus home but Fiona takes him straight back, insinuating that Will is a paedophile for hanging out with a 12 year old so much. Will loses his temper and shouts that he has to take care of Will as he is being bullied cruelly.
At home,Fiona states that she is the only one capable of raising him but Marcus protests and says that she only makes his mind up for him and never allows him any independence. He then tells her that he wants to keep seeing Will because he wants a father. Fiona cries.
Some time later, Will thinks of how relaxing his Christmas will be, spent at home drinking and enjoying himself. He then thinks of Marcus who he hasn’t seen for a week since the argument. He then realises that he and Marcus are not so different, with his own father killing himself with alcohol and Marcus’ mother attempting suicide with pills.
Fiona calls Will and they arrange a meeting the next day over drinks. Fiona accuses him of being selfish with Will riposting that, being alone, he has seldom anyone else to care for. Fiona then says that Marcus is in his life now and he cannot leave him.
Whilst Will and Fiona debate, Marcus does his school work at his flat and generally spends the evening well. The next day, he sees Mrs. Morrison, the headmistress, about his stolen trainers. His mother had complained. Whilst waiting, he must be in the presence of Ellie McCrae, an infamous year 10 girl.
Ellie is waiting to be reprimanded for refusing to abide by uniform rules, instead wearing a graphic sweatshirt with a face of a rough man with half a beard (Kurt Cobain) Whilst talking to Mrs. Morrison, Marcus loses his temper as she tries to tell him that he should just keep out of the bullies’ way. He leaves without being dismissed.
Will is driving around London and spots Marcus wandering along in school hours. When home, Will hears that Marcus is ringing his doorbell but he doesn’t answer. After thirty minutes, he lets him in and asks him about his afternoon.
Marcus tries to lie but Will tells him that he saw him on the street, which Marcus says was because he had to leave to get something. Will then decides that he must use his position to teach Marcus about being a kid, something he hasn’t been taught, being too concerned with growing up.
The next day, Marcus meets Ellie and her friend, Zoe, at break time. Ellie asks for his name and, after being answered, she tells him that Marcus is an interesting name. Marcus is thrilled and eager and asks if they really think so but Zoe quickly says no and the pair laugh. The pair say that they will see Marcus around.
The next day, Marcus sees Ellie and Zoe again and they greet him in a friendly way, with Ellie putting her arm around him and messing with his hair. Mrs. Morrison then orders Ellie to her office and Ellie obeys begrudgingly. Mrs. Morrison then tells Marcus that he and her have unfinished business, Ellie then smiles at Marcus. At lunch, Ellie and Zoe find Marcus and the trio socialise. The other students are amazed, feeling it to be impossible that Ellie has chosen Marcus as a friend.
Will decides that a solitary Christmas is not ideal as people judge others for how they spend their Christmas. Will feels that he cannot spend Christmas with Fiona and Will as it won’t be fun but he is shocked and forced when Marcus invites him. Whilst at the Christmas affair, Will is surprised to see Suzie and Megan arrive, a pair he hasn’t seen since Ned’s nonexistence was proven.
Will can’t deal with the embarrassment and goes to leave but Marcus wants him to stay, believing that he truly tried to help him when he was down as opposed to his mother who is much like Mrs. Morrison in her approach to his bullies.
Come New Year’s Eve, Will meets a woman named Rachel at a party, and he falls in love. Rachel illustrates children’s books. Will finds her immensely attractive. Will fears, though, that she will lose interest in him when she finds out who he really is.
Rachel says that Nirvana sounds like Led Zeppelin and Will replies that he knows a 12-year-old boy that would kill her for saying that. Rachel inquires for a name and then offers the name of her son, also 12 years old, Ali. Will does not stop Rachel from assuming Marcus is his son. They then kiss at midnight and then arrange for Ali and Marcus to meet.
Marcus, for New Years, goes with his mother to a party hosted by Suzie. He finds Ellie there and she presents her mother, who is dancing rather oddly. Ellie then gives him a coke with sherry in it. She then tells Marcus that she knows that his mother tried to commit suicide when she overheard a conversation between her and Suzie. Marcus is proud to be having a conversation and, in a desperate attempt to keep the interaction going, offers a dance.
The next week, Will takes Marcus to an arcade and informs him that he needs to play along with the act of him being his son for Rachel. When the date arrives, Marcus is wearing corduroys and a hairy jumper, which embarrasses Will but he tries to act fatherly and accept it.
When they arrive at Rachel’s house, Marcus is introduced to Ali, who is playing games on his PC. Rachel then proposes that the two share each other’s company whilst she and Will interact downstairs. Marcus agrees and Will feels intense appreciation for Marcus for being willing to help him.
Whilst Will and Rachel are downstairs, Ali threatens Marcus with death if Will and Rachel get together. Ali persists to threaten Marcus with death until Marcus suggests that Rachel may also be interested in Will, causing Ali to claim that she is interested in him instead. Marcus leaves and Will picks him up when he finds him at a bus stop. Marcus explains the situation and Will counters that Ali is currently crying, and has apologised.
Later that week, whilst on the way home, Marcus is ambushed by Lee Hartley, a bully, and has his boys surround him. He steals his glasses but Ellie, leaving the newsagents, orders him to give the glasses back before hitting Lee in the face.
Will fears that he cannot base a relationship with Rachel on a lie and tells her whilst at a restaurant. He only leaves out the part about his strange hunt for single mothers with SPAT. The pair return to Rachel’s for coffee.
By now, it has been some time since Marcus has been bullied and his routine with Will, Ellie, and Zoe is a regular one. However, Fiona begins to fall into a depression again, with her episodes of crying increasing in their intensity. Marcus then goes to school a day after telling Will about his mother’s condition and finds Ellie in a bad mood.
Zoe informs him that Kurt Cobain had recently attempted suicide with a drug overdose. Ellie then says that Kurt will inevitably kill himself because of his nihilism. Marcus flies into a fit and starts shouting, saying she doesn’t know what Kurt is like and that he isn’t even real (being a singer). Ellie apologises as she quickly ascertains the link between the topic and Marcus’ mother.
Will consults Rachel for advice on how to help Marcus and she says that Marcus adores him and that he must be an admirable person to be able to get by without a family or a job. Rachel then tells him that she had fell into depression a few years ago but Ali made her refrain from attempting suicide. She suggests that she should have a talk with Fiona in order to help, which makes Will intensely happy.
Some time later, Fiona tells Marcus that he must go to Cambridge to see his father and, after telling Ellie about it, she tells him that he must give him a piece of his mind and say all that he has been thinking. She also wants to go herself to give him a piece of her mind, too. When on the underground train, Marcus sees a headline on a newspaper announcing the death of Kurt Cobain and Ellie, who is with him, produces a bottle of vodka with the intention of getting drunk.
Will then begins his plan for the meeting between Fiona and Rachel. He starts by arranging a chat over drinks in a pub with the intention that, sometime through, he will form an excuse to leave and therefore have Fiona and Rachel alone together, where they can talk about their mutual experiences. Come the night, Fiona and Will arrive and Will noted that Fiona seems a little erratic.
The pair talk about Marcus for a while until Will notices that Rachel is taking her time to arrive. Will then goes to the telephone to call her but comes to realise that Rachel never intended to show and simply schemed to have Will deal with the problem himself. Will then takes Fiona to Pizza Express and he ponders life before all of this, when he was uninvolved and distant from everyone.
He then begins to think about Marcus and Ellie when he hears of Cobain’s death and worries for them. Marcus has left a message on Fiona’s answerphone and Marcus recommends they listen to make sure he is alright, however they find he is calling from a Royston police station.
We then witness the events that led up to Marcus’ presence in the police station. Ellie acts strangely and aggressively on the train, threatening to do things to people who even so much as look at her. Suddenly, Ellie leaves the train at Royston station and Marcus, nervous and unsure, follows her. They wander into town and Ellie finds a music shop with a cardboard cutout of Kurt Cobain in the window, causing Ellie to accuse the owner of capitalising off of his death. Ellie breaks the glass and takes the cutout before they are arrested.
The police are accepting and genial, finding amusement in Ellie’s explanation. Marcus explains their trip and Ellie says they should let him go as he did nothing wrong. His father and Lindsey arrive and all wait for Will, Fiona, and Katrina, Ellie’s mother. Will thinks about how this day compares to the picnic. Before, the attempted suicide of Fiona didn’t entirely affect him as he was distant emotionally but now he cares a great deal for them both. Will then realises that he actually enjoys his new social life.
At the police station, Ellie announces that she is going to show the shop owner what she really thinks of the sign being put up. However, when the owner arrives and turns out to be a young woman, wearing a Cobain sweatshirt and makeup, Marcus assumes it is her sister.
Ellie doubts the authenticity and demands to know if the police set it up but the young owner reveals that she deeply loved Nirvana and this is the saddest day of her life. Ruth, as she is named, also adds that the cutout has always been put up and Ellie apologises. Ruth hugs her. Fiona then suddenly gets up and hugs Marcus, announcing out loud to everyone that she has not been a good mother. Will observes all of this and cannot comprehend the difference between his period of social exclusion and now.
Will then asks Marcus what he was doing on the train with Ellie. He cannot remember but he has confirmed in his mind that she is not the one for him. She is too different. Katrina then says that most people have wasted half their life searching for the ‘less different’ person. Will then, after hearing all of this, comes to the conclusion within his mind that people only search for those wildly different to themselves because they are not comfortable with who they are themselves.
Whilst staying with his father and Lindsey, Clive, his father, admits that he should not have left Fiona but Marcus replies that it doesn’t matter and that he should enjoy what he has now as he can always contact his father if he needs to. He realises that this web of people is imperative to secure happiness in life. Marcus then says that he’d be happy if Clive and Lindsey were to have a child together.
Will, by now, takes Marcus and Ali out together on Saturdays and, though Ali is still a bit aggressive to Marcus, the trio get on well. Will also realises that Marcus is becoming truly content with who he is and his friendship with Ellie and Zoe is stronger now than it has ever been.
Some time later, Fiona confesses to Will that Marcus is growing up too fast and she fears he may have started smoking, but Will merely laughs it off and mentions how much happier Fiona seems now. She agrees that she is feeling better but she cannot explain why.
Will thinks to himself about how he, Fiona, and Marcus have all had to sacrifice certain bits of themselves to gain more in other areas. Will lost his distance but gained Rachel, Fiona lost Marcus’s dependence but gained happiness, and Marcus lost who he is but is no longer tormented.
About A Boy
Marcus was a twelve-year old boy who struggled at school as a result of his mother, who bought him clothes that were not out of fashion. Marcus’s mother was known however to be divorced and depressed. Marcus was annoyed as he was never told why his mother was upset. The third main character of the story, Will (a 36-year old man) was out of touch as he was very rich because his father wrote a famous song and he consequently received royalty payments.
Will was wanted a relationship but not a wife. Marcus went for a picnic with a friend of his mother’s, called Susie, who became Will’s girlfriend. When Marcus went home, his mother was lying on the floor. Susie called the ambulance and the doctors said that she tried to commit suicide. Marcus had met Will at the picnic where he had gone with Susie and, one day after school, he followed Will to his flat.
Will allows Marcus into his home and they had dinner together. Afterwards, Will decided to go shopping with Marcus. Will buys him new trainers and the next day at school they were stolen. Marcus went to talk to the head teacher and saw a girl who was known for not observing any rules in school. Her name was Ellie. After some time, Marcus and Ellie became close friends.
At Christmas time, Marcus’s father (Clive) came to spend time with him. After Christmas, Will met a girl who had a son called Ali and Marcus met him also, however Ali was very impolite. After some time, Marcus’s father broke his arm and asked Marcus if he wanted to come and stay with him and Marcus invited Ellie to accompany him. On the train, Ellie heard the news about her favourite singer’s death and got drunk. Marcus attempted to stop her, but she was already drunk. After that, when all the problems in Marcus’s life were solved, Marcus became a normal 12-year old boy.