Nick Hornby had been
on my to-read list for quite a while—ever since I saw the movie High Fidelity,
actually. I guess I was just curious to see what all the fuss was about—so when I found
a copy of How to Be Good, I snatched it up right away and dove
How to Be Good is the amusingly cynical story of Dr. Katie
Carr, a woman who’s spent her life doing everything in her power to be Good. That’s why
she became a doctor, after all—it seemed like the Good thing to do. But all that comes
into question when she tells her husband, David, that she wants a divorce. He’s angry
and argumentative and just plain mean. And he’s driven her (though he doesn’t know it)
to have an affair—and that’s not Good.
In the midst of their arguments and
negotiations, David goes to an alternative healer named DJ GoodNews, and his life is
changed forever. Suddenly, David is Good. He’s obnoxiously kind and understanding, and
he devotes his life to doing Good. Before Katie knows what’s going on, she’s sharing her
home with her two children, her crazy husband (who, she suspects, may have a brain
tumor), DJ GoodNews, and a homeless kid named Monkey. And she’s not sure which David she
hates more -- the Good one, or the Bad one.
How to Be Good is an
odd British novel. It’s bitter and cynical and even depressing at times. Yet, somewhere
in the midst of all that, it ends up being funny, too. Imagine that. And while the
story didn’t snag my interest as much as I’d expected it to, I really appreciate Hornby’s
talent and style—and the bizarreness of it all. How to Be Good is strange and
sour and a little bit gloomy and a little bit comical—and it’s worth the read.