Tuesday, March 29, 2011

CBR III Book 9: A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby is a British author whose works are well-liked and have been adapted into many movies: Fever Pitch, About a Boy, High Fidelity, etc. "A Long Way Down" is a trifle of a book that I can't imagine would make a very good film, but it does have that Hornby wit that elevates it above a typical mindless read.

On New Year's Eve, four strangers find themselves on the top of Topper House in London, a building with a reputation as a last stop for those considering suicide. Martin is a breakfast tv show host who has messed up his life due to a scandalous affair with an underage girl; Maureen is a single mother who has devoted her life to her (both physically and developmentally) handicapped son; Jess is a slightly loony British teen who hides a family secret; and JJ is the lone American of the group, a musician who is trying to come to terms with the end of his career. Although they're all considering jumping, none of them are able to do it in front of the others, and they end up forming an unlikely bond. The book follows the group as they leave Topper House together and, over the next few months, try to figure out what led them there in the first place and if it's worth changing their lives to they don't end up there in the future.

All four characters take turns narrating the novel, and it helps to hear what's going on in each of their heads. Of all the characters, Maureen stuck with me the most, because she had the worst circumstances, and yet her life is the most improved by the end in very simple ways. But I have the feeling that in a month's time, I won't even remember the names of the characters. This is a very quick, easy read that doesn't leave much of an impression behind - not that there's anything wrong with that.

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