Nick Hornby Just Like You

 

There was a time when I couldn’t get enough Nick Hornby, his novels were so funny and addictive for me, especially High Fidelity, About A Boy and Fever Pitch. He’s still an author whose every book I will consume, but the past few I’ve struggled with, including his most recent, Just Like You. It’s not dislikable, it’s just not very interesting. That sounds so harsh, I do like Hornby’s writing, it’s very distinctive and observant, often amusing. Just Like You is about a 42-year old divorced woman with two sons who forms a relationship with a 22 year old man. Their age difference is a thing, as are their backgrounds and different races – he’s black working class, she’s white middle class. There’s a lot to be said about how these issues are navigated in both their relationship and wider society, and it’s remarkable coming from a male writer that the female character is more realistic than the male one. It just wasn’t a book I was keen to get back to, and I think that’s partly to do with all the tedious Brexit stuff (it’s set around the time of the referendum for this), plus the way in which both characters are secretive, not just with their families and friends, but with the reader too. I didn’t care much whether they stayed together or not. I’m sure this will end up as a film, as most of Hornby’s novels do, and it would useful for the way race can be talked about in our changing times. Maybe it’s just pandemic cabin-fever, I’m becoming very unforgiving with any book, film or TV show that doesn’t grab me straight away. Even though I have more time I need more stimulation, and I won’t put up with anything below a solid 7 out of 10.

 

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