Review: A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
Author: Nick Hornby
Publisher: Riverhead Books, a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Publication Date: May 2, 2006
Age Group/Genre: Adult/Contemporary
In his eagerly awaited fourth novel, New York Times-bestselling author Nick Hornby mines the hearts and psyches of four lost souls who connect just when they’ve reached the end of the line.
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. (From Goodreads)
A Long Way Down was the July selection for my book club, and I was pretty excited to read it because I love the movie version of one of Nick Hornby’s other books, About a Boy. I liked that book, too, but I LOVE the movie. Anyway, I knew going into this book that I was most likely going to enjoy it. And I was right!
It’s kind of a dark subject matter, because all of these people have decided to commit suicide on New Year’s Eve, and they all decide to jump off the roof of the same building, but they get in each other’s way. So there is a lot of talk about suicide, about what it means to want to be alive, why life is worth living, etc. But I think, for the most part, this story is pretty uplifting. And it can be downright funny a lot of the time.
I loved the characters in this story. I started out not liking a couple of the characters, but after a while, after I got to know more about each of the characters, I ended up liking all of them and understanding why they acted the way they did. And I love how Hornby wrote it just like how you get to know someone in real life–you don’t learn everything all at once, and first impressions are not always the best, but as you spend more time with someone you learn more about them.
A lot of the blurbs on my copy of the book compared A Long Way Down to The Breakfast Club, and I think that’s pretty spot-on. These characters all meet in a certain place when they’re having really hard times in their lives, and they don’t really like each other too much but they get each other through it, and they end up being there for one another.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from A Long Way Down:
- A Friends reference = 10,000 points
- An X-Men reference = 15,000 points
- A Harry Potter reference = 50 million points
- A Doctor Who reference = 100 million points (this one is extra because the joke in which the Doctor Who reference appears is really darn funny!)
Disclaimer: I purchased this book myself. I was not compensated in any way for this review.