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Finding something you’re good at is a big part of growing up. Our parents and the surrounding society expect us to be particularly good at something. Hobbies and after-school activities are encouraged and advised. But what if the quest for a personal skill and extraordinary talent becomes a weary task? In the short story, “Every Good Boy” (2011), by David Nicholls, the main character is eager to find something he can do well, despite numerous failures. He wants to impress his parents so badly that he has to find something outside himself to blame for yet another failed attempt.
The first person narrator of “Every Good Boy” is also the main character, who looks back at his childhood experiences some years later. At the time of the events, the main character is 9 years old. Living with his father, mother and two siblings, the narrator seems a happy little boy, although he has not yet found something he’s...