A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
Published May 2nd 2006 by Riverhead Books
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Rating: 4/5 stars
Buy it here
“Meet Martin, JJ, Jess, and Maureen. Four people who come together on New Year’s Eve: a former TV talk show host, a musician, a teenage girl, and a mother. Three are British, one is American. They encounter one another on the roof of Topper’s House, a London destination famous as the last stop for those ready to end their lives.
In four distinct and riveting first-person voices, Nick Hornby tells a story of four individuals confronting the limits of choice, circumstance, and their own mortality. This is a tale of connections made and missed, punishing regrets, and the grace of second chances.
Intense, hilarious, provocative, and moving, A Long Way Down is a novel about suicide that is, surprisingly, full of life.”
I really enjoyed reading this book. The idea that four people can be so sure that they want to end their life, then in each other find the will to live, was a truly heartwarming concept. I found that I could understand them even though I myself have never been in that situation. Hornby’s writing captured the mindset of this group of people so well I felt as though I was experiencing everything with them. I loved all of the characters, they were each funny, crazy and completely normal all at the same time and I couldn’t get enough of them.
Soon after reading this book I saw the movie adaption for it. I would like to say that it was almost better than the book. The movie captured the characters very well and I thought the story was portrayed in a happier way than it was in the book. Because after all who wants to read a sad book, maybe that’s why I liked the movie better. However there were a few things that I didn’t think were great in the film. For example, Jess is meant to be a strong, independent character, but she was portrayed otherwise in the movie. They made her look fragile and crazy, I mean she is most certainly crazy but a good crazy. Fragile would not have been a word I would have thought of in relation to Jess. And they changed the ending as well, which made for a more cinematic effect but non the less didn’t stick to the original story and the impact that the true ending gave.
I have to say that Jess was my favorite character. She was so full of energy and really cared for the others although it may not have seemed like it. Jess wasn’t perfect, and knew that she often got on people’s nerves, but tried to be kind anyway. She said things that came across quite crass, but were never intended to be that way. She was actually a very intelligent character it seemed. Reading from her POV was so interesting and hilarious at times, without Jess the story wouldn’t have been the same.
I found the plot for this book to be intriguing, but at times it went a tad slowly and I got a bit bored. The whole concept of four people banding together agreeing to live and seeing where that takes them was really fascinating. This is an emotional subject and reading about these kinds of things always pulls at my heart strings. But at some points I found myself getting bored. I can’t really say why. Maybe it was because the characters were older than me, or there wasn’t anything happening at that point in the story. I don’t know. There were just some points where the story lulled, but there are moments like that in every book. Overall I found it a compelling read and the story was choc-a-block with humor, which helped to balance out the fact that they were going to commit suicide. The characters all seemed like normal people, but as you got to know them that seemed to change.
Nick Hornby is a truly captivating writer and I found my self enthralled with this book. In the future I will most definitely be reading more of his books. Probably About a Boy, since I saw the movie and liked it, which will give me more motivation to read it. He seems to write about touchy subjects or things that aren’t the norm, which always guarantees a unique read for me. Those types of books are the kind of thing I pick up when I’m feeling like I want to read about something real and not the silly contemporary crap I read most often(even though I still love that stuff). The individuality that springs forth from Hornby’s work is something I strive to read, and hope to learn from.
This was genuinely a great book and I would recommend that people read it. It’s won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like eccentric characters and lots of humor alongside a serious topic, then this book is for you. This book is suitable for readers 15+ due to a mature story line. (Oh and if this doesn’t sound like your kind of thing, I would still suggest to watch the movie, it was really good).