"For disgraced TV presenter Martin Sharp the answer's pretty simple: he has, in his own words, 'pissed his life away'. And on New Years Eve he's going to end it all... But not, as it happens, alone. Because first single-mum Maureen, then eighteen year old Jess and lastly American rock-god JJ turn up and crash Martin's private party. They've stolen his idea - but brought their own reasons.
Yet it's hard to jump when you've got an audience queuing impatiently behind you. A few heated words and some slices of cold pizza later and these four strangers are suddenly allies. But is their unlikely friendship a good enough reason to carry on living?"
I've had this book for about a year now, and I must admit, it only made the top of my to-read pile once I caught wind of a film adaptation starring Aaron Paul (I'm still experiencing intense post-Breaking-Bad-trama...) That being said, I'm a disappointed with myself for not reading this book sooner. I loved every moment of it. It's an absolutely raw and honest story about four very different people struggling with depression.
Despite the heart of the book being about suicide, its actually very funny. The characters are so different and completely clash with each other which makes for very entertaining dialogue, which I'm really looking forward to seeing brought to life on screen. Each chapter is told from a different characters perspective too, which I really liked, as you were able to get full descriptions of each characters thoughts, feelings and fears. It was also interesting to get various characters opinions on different situations.
I must admit, I was already a Nick Hornby fan, so I already had high hopes for this book before even reading the blurb, and as usual, he did not let me down. The plot is seems very honest. There is no contrived plot developments. I think it's very easy for a book like this to turn into a cheesy tale of how all of these characters learnt from each other and completely cured each others depression. That simply isn't how real-life works. Yes, they did learn from each other, but depression is a constant struggle, something that someone has to tackle head-on, and something that cannot simply be cured by companionship alone, and A Long Way Down portrayed it as such.
Despite the blurb stating that they become "friends", I would suggest otherwise. It is more accurate to state that they are stuck together. They are situational "friends" bound together by their shared experience of depression. But that doesn't mean they like each other! That's actually what made the book so funny. These four people who would have never met, let alone associated with each are suddenly bound together through shared experience.
This book was actually quite similar to the last book I reviewed This is Where I Leave You by Jonathon Tropper. That book was also dealing with a darker subject matter in a comedic way. However, I only rated that book a 3, due to the fact that the ending was not tied up enough at the end. And although this book also doesn't completely tie everything up at the end, I am satisfied by the subtle character developments in A Long Way Down, which unfortunately, I felt This is Where I Leave You lacked.
I really enjoyed this book, and it's the type of book that you read and instantly want others to read. So if you have this book lying around, or spot it in a book shop, I hope you pick it up, and give it a read. I don't think you'll regret it!
"When we first split up, he called me a stalker, but that's like an emotive word, 'stalker', isn't it? I don't think you can call it stalking when it's just phone calls and letters and emails and knocking on the door."
"Everyone knows how to talk, and no one knows what to say."
"Most people have a rope that ties them to someone, and that rope can be short or it can be long. (Be long. Belong. Get it?) You don't know how long, though. It's not your choice."
I must admit, I was having large fan-girl episodes yesterday, what with both this and The Fault in Our Stars trailer being released. I'm very happy to say that both trailers seem like they have done the book justice. 2014 is going to be a good year for film adaptations, I can feel it!