Book Review – Nick Hornby – A Long Way Down

‘Can I explain why I wanted to jump off the top of a tower block?’

For disgraced TV presenter Martin Sharp the answers pretty simple: in his own words, ‘pissed his life away’. And on New Year’s Eve he’s going to end it all… but not, as it happens, alone. Because first single-mum Maureen, the eighteen-year-old Jess and lastly failed-musician-turned-pizza-boy JJ turn up and crash Martin’s private party. They’ve stolen his idea – but brought their own reasons.

Yes it’s hard to jump when you’ve got an audience queuing impatiently behind you. A few heated words and some slices of cold pizza later and these four strangers are suddenly allies. But is their unlikely friendship a good enough reason to carry on living?

We’ve all heard of Nick Hornby, the author of About a Boy, Fever Pitch and many more, I am a huge fan of the films so I thought I’d see what I thought of the books.

I like that there aren’t chapters so-to-speak, there’s just headings for the separate characters of the book. The plot is basically how the four of them haven’t had the best time in life at the moment so they feel it’s a good idea to end them. And when it comes to the time to do the deed they find each other in the oddest of circumstances.

I think Hornby’s writing is ingenious. Every book has characters that follow a storyline, but with A Long Way Down it has a storyline being told by four different perspectives. We have Jess, the loud, sweary, teenager who is cheeky and a little bit outrageous (she’s my favourite). Then there’s Maureen, she’s an odd ball. She has a mentally and physically disabled son who she feels she can no longer look after because he needs a higher level of care than she can give him herself.

JJ is another guy from the roof, he’s sweet but is going for the whole misunderstood character with a temper – and he’s the only American of the group.

Last up is Martin. I cannot stand Martins character, his attitude stinks, plus Peirce Brosnan played him in the film (and if that’s not a good enough reason to dislike him, I don’t know what is).

So anyway, they don’t kill themselves but instead they form a weird friendship and make a pact to not kill themselves, at least until Valentines Day. Which in reality, turns out to be a really good idea because it gives the group something to focus on and gives them some clarity in their life.

We go through the story and see the group escape real life and go on holiday to Tenerife, which is after they meet up on Valentines Day and see a man at the top of Toppers Tower (in London) who really did kill himself, and with that, it makes them realise that they never really wanted to commit suicide in the first place.

I have watched the film adaptation and must admit I prefer the films ending to the original one of the book. It just sort of ends, it doesn’t wrap up the story, nor does it explain what is going to happen to the characters, it just ends…

Perhaps his other books have better endings, I’ll have to see!

If you have any suggestions for my next blog, comment below or tweet me @LHutchon

Lucy.

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