Nick Hornby’s newest novel A Long Way Down, opens on New Year’s Eve at Topper’s House, a 15-story London apartment complex. With the sounds of partiers clinking champagne glasses below, four strangers sneak onto the rooftop to end their lives. With the premise set – four strangers just so happening to want to try jumping off the same roof at the same time – the plot unfolds from the sheer force of its distinctive characters.
There’s Martin, an infamous television personality estranged from his family; Maureen, a devout Catholic who has spent almost two decades caring for her disabled son; Jess, the token angst-ridden teenager; and JJ, a failed wanna-be rock star. With this crew, it’s going to be a not-so-happy New Year’s. Four’s a crowd when it comes to suicide, and no one manages to get much leaping done with the others lining up to take their turn. So, instead, these strangers form an unlikely band of suicidal loners.
Together they face the dismal prospect of living out the final weeks and months of the rest of their lives. In A Long Way Down, Hornby somehow manages to make suicide funny. Except for a few tasteless passages and an occasional awkward turn of the plot, A Long Way Down addresses some of the Big Questions without losing its sense of humor.