Because I am in so many book clubs, it’s rare that I read a book simply because I wanted to read it. I am not complaining. My book clubs have expanded my reading tastes and exposed me to many new authors. Still, I was excited to finally choose my own book.
I have been a fan of Nick Hornby since I read “High Fidelity” in the ’90’s and I loved the movie which starred John Cusack. I was excited to read “A long way down” because the movie was opening this summer and the premise sounded interesting and unlike any other: 4 strangers unexpectedly meet at the top of a tall London building on New Years Eve. Each of them intend to jump to their death and end their personal misery. The four characters have nothing in common with each other; there is a party girl teenager, a disgraced TV star, the mother of a disabled boy and a failed rock star. Couple this interesting premise with these characters and the incredible talent of Nick Hornby and you would think this is a recipe for success.
While interesting and entertaining, the book didn’t hold together well. I am not spoiling the ending when I tell you the characters decide NOT to jump and the remainder of the book is about the journey they take to make sure each of them live to see Valentines Day. However, even as talented and witty as Nick Hornby is, he had a hard time making their ensuing shenanigans hold together for me.
The format of rotating first person played well to learning the quirkiness of each character. There are some hysterical bits of dialogue between the characters and I found Jess, the party girl teenager particularly hilarious. At one point she is talking about her boyfriend claiming to stalk him and she says: “I don’t think you can call it stalking when it’s just phone calls and letters and emails and knocking on the door. And I only turned up at his work twice. Three times if you count his Christmas party, which I don’t because he said he was going to take me to that anyway.”
In the end, the motto of this book was simply: “Choose life. Figure it out.” I’m glad I read it and I’m still a fan of Nick Hornby but maybe it’s good that I let my book clubs lead the way most of the time.