Author: Nick Hornby
Length: 333 pages
Genre: Literary Fiction
Where Bethany’s copy came from: personal collection
Plot Basics: On New Year’s Eve, four strangers meet at the top of a 10-story building in London. All are there with the same purpose–to jump. But in meeting others, the four embark on a 90-day waiting period before they commit suicide. And 90 days might be just long enough to figure out how to deal with the hard things about living.
Banter Points: I didn’t set out to read two books about suicide back to back, but that’s how it happened with Amy Gail Hansen’s The Butterfly Sister and then this one which my book club picked. But, these two ended up being a great book pairing. On the back of the Hornby book a reviewer with far more cleverness than I described A Long Way Down as “the Breakfast Club written by Beckett.” The two books went together so well because Hornby offered a crazy hope to the despair that pervaded The Butterfly Sister. The Butterfly Sister was so much about what the characters had lost and Hornby, in his story about healing, really shows each character how much he or she has left.
Hornby is a skillful writer, managing to capture four distinct voices in a book with four first-person POV narrators and managing to weave their stories together. He captures the idea that there are things about a person that they are blind to themselves and that can be seen by others. The four don’t tell their own stories as much as they reflect the stories of this unlikely grouping.
Bummer Points: The f-word is used an awful lot. It fits the people in the story, but wow, it’s a lot.
Word Nerd Recommendation: Highly recommend it. Likely another top 10 candidate for 2013.