My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - 3 days
Pages - 257
Publisher - Penguin
Blurb from Goodreads
"New Year's Eve at Toppers' House, North London's most popular suicide spot. And four strangers are about to discover that doing away with yourself isn't quite the private act they'd each expected." "Perma-tanned Martin Sharp's a disgraced breakfast TV presenter who had it all - the kids, the wife, the pad, the great career - and wasted it away. Killing himself is Martin's logical and appropriate response to an unliveable life." "Maureen has to do it tonight, because of Matty being in the home. He was never able to do any of the normal things kids do - like walk or talk - and loving-mum Maureen can't cope any more. Dutiful Catholic that she is, she's ready to commit the 'biggest sin of all'." "Half-crazed with heartbreak, loneliness, adolescent angst, seven Bacardi Breezers and two Special Brews, Jess's ready to jump, to fly off the roof." "Finally, there's JJ - tall, cool, American, looks like a rock-star, sometimes thinks he plays his guitar like one - who's weighted down with a heap of problems, and pizza." "Four strangers, who moments before were convinced that they were alone and going to end it all that way, share out the pizza and begin to talk ... Only to find that they have even less in common than first suspected." Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down is a novel that asks some of the big questions: about life and death, strangers and friendship, love and pain, and whether a group of losers, and pizza, can really see you through a long, dark night of the soul.
Four individuals looking to end in all on New Years eve happen upon each other. Toppers house in London, aptly named so as many people choose it to jump from and end their lives. That is the plan for Jess, young, loud and had enough after her boyfriend abruptly broke it off. Maureen, mum to Matty her son who is severely disabled and totally dependent on her. Martin, disgraced tv personality, reputation ruined after jail time and lost his family and career and lastly JJ, failed "rock star", each finds themselves on the rooftop and ready to call it a day when they meet each other and their plans change.
The chapters are short, written in first person point of view and named with the person who is talking for that chapter. The only character I felt any kind of likening for was Maureen, her life is completely around her son, she has noone bar him and the picture of their live together is very sad and lonely. Jess is a self absorbed, very young, loud mouthed individual who doesn't think before she engages her mouth. JJ is a bit of a pathetic figure, he feels the need to embellish his reasons for being on the roof that night because his life is so lacking. Martin, yet another self involved fool who can't see past himself, a legend in his own living room comes to mind.
The four form an unlikely friendship and get to know each other and form a "survivors" pact. The story gets a bit ridiculous in quite a few areas and to be honest, I was glad when it was over. It wasn't all bad, there are a few redeeming qualities within the story, Maureen was the saving grace of the group however it was a bit of an effort to get through. I am in the minority though as I know lots of people who loved this story and the movie, give it a go and see what you think. 2/5 for me this time, this was my first dance with this author, I would read him again though.