Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A LONG WAY DOWN by Nick Hornby

I was going to review middle-grade books all summer long, but this hilarious book about suicide derailed my intentions.

One New Year's Eve, four people with very different reasons but a common purpose, find their way to the top of a fifteen-story building in London. None of them has calculated that, on a date humans favor for acts of significance, in a place known as a local suicide-jumper's favorite, they might encounter company. A Long Way Down is the story of what happens next, and what doesn't..." New York Times Book Review

With four main and distinctive characters, Hornby succeeded beyond expectation in bringing each voice to life through his first-person narratives.

Three of the characters are British, and one is American. Hornby's humor is honest and wry, and he captures British 'isms' as well as American 'isms.' There is a scene at the beginning of the book where they're all sharing stories about why they're up on that roof. It's quite hilarious as they each feel compelled to outdo one another---whose life is the most miserable? The American --who ends up on the roof with a few pizzas--had to make up a life-threatening disease. His breaking up with his band didn't feel worthy enough a reason to jump off the roof.
By the end of the book (nobody jumps, but then you realize that right away), each character finds a patchwork of peace to their lives. It's not about the grand solutions or sweeping fixes (which are both both boring and fake), it's about the smaller moments of decision which allow each character to grow.

The dialogue is fast-paced and the characters are flawed and real. If you like Richard Russo's characters, I think you'll like this book. I read it in two sittings.

1 comment:

fairyhedgehog said...

I love this book too. I especially loved seeing the same scenes from the viewpoints of different characters.