Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

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**A Long Way Down

by Nick Hornby

Reviewed August 27, 2005.
Riverhead Books (Penguin), New York, 2005.  333 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (MCN F HOR).

I enjoyed this book at first, finding it different, clever, and very amusing.  Four people go to the top of a skyscraper in London in order to commit suicide.  They find that suicide is something you need a little privacy for.  And so this unlikely group gets bonded together—Martin, a disgraced television host; Margaret, the mother of a boy who’s a vegetable; JJ, a failed musician; and Jess, a crazy, mixed-up kid obsessed with her old boyfriend.

The characters are beautifully drawn and are hilariously mismatched—always setting each other off.  As the book progresses, each comes to some sort of terms with living.

I found this book clever and funny at the beginning, but by the end I was somewhat tired of it.  This isn’t the typical feel-good book I like to recommend.  In fact, the message seems to be that life is meaningless, but we like to live anyway.  And although the excessive profanity is completely in character, it does get tiresome by the end of the book.

To make matters worse, before I finished this book, I began reading Against Depression, by Peter Kramer.  He complains that depression has a certain charm, that we assume that depressed people have some deep insights about life.  A Long Way Down would back up his claim.  When I finished, I wished someone had gotten these people some kind of professional help!

All the same, it is a clever book, and very well crafted.  We get to know these people and we do want them to live.  We cheer for the steps they take to embrace life and put a little something more into it.

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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