Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Review: A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

A Long Way Down is the story of four very different people who all meet at the top of a building on New Years Eve whilst planning to commit suicide.
First there is Martin, a TV presenter who has recently spent time in jail and been hounded by the tabloids after the scandal of 'accidentally' sleeping with a fifteen-year-old girl. His career is in ruins and his wife and children have left him. His suicide attempt is interrupted by Maureen, a middle-aged mother and full time carer to her severely disabled son, who has been in a vegetative state since his birth nineteen years ago. Then there is Jess, an out-of-control eighteen year old who decided on the spur of the moment to commit suicide after being ignored by her ex boyfriend. As Martin and Maureen are sitting on Jess to prevent her from jumping, along comes JJ, an American pizza delivery man who has recently split from his band and his girlfriend.
Despite its morbid premise, this story is filled with dark humour and is surprisingly uplifting, in the way that these four different people come to develop a dysfunctional yet caring relationship. Each chapter is told from the point of view of each of the four characters, and through this we get to know them intimately, and  despite all of them being very flawed and not entirely likeable, we end up rooting for them and hoping that they all end up getting what they want.
I am a huge fan of Nick Hornby's novels, and this one is no exception. He manages to capture every little awkward detail about the way people interact, which makes his characters very vivid and relatable, and there are loads of little bits that make you go 'Oh! I do that too!' A Long Way Down is filled with ridiculously funny yet somehow totally plausible moments, such as them lying to the tabloid reporter that they saw an angel who looked like Matt Damon, and then getting into an argument about why Martin didn't ask it to appear on his talk show.
I've read that there might be a film of this being made soon, and I hope it is, because this book seems like it would translate very well into a film and (hopefully) wouldn't lose too much of its detail. I always have a soft spot for the film version of About a Boy so I have high hopes for this film!

Anyway, I give this book a 4/5, mainly because I feel like I'm a bit too generous with my book reviews and I have to avoid giving everything I read a 5, because otherwise there's not much point in even having a scale!

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