a long way down

title: A Long Way Down

author: Nick Hornby

genre: Fiction, suicidial ideation, support systems

suggested by: BuzzFeed

dates read: March 21st – March 22nd

review:  5 out of 5 stars

summary: Martin, Maureen, JJ, and Jess have one thing in common, they all want to kill themselves.  On New Year’s Eve they happen to meet at a popular “jumping off” point and form an unlikely bond.  Each section alternates between their perspectives from Jess, who is eighteen and quite the firecracker, always offending someone with her brash and bold ways, to Maureen, the fifty-one year old single mom of a nineteen year old wheelchair-bound son.  It’s quite the motley crew and they have a lot to learn about life and death.

personal thoughts: I loved this!  Obviously it is somewhat of a dark and morbid topic, but Hornby treats it with humor and a poignancy that’s unexpected.  I liked the style of writing and the very different perspectives.  Each of the characters has different insights into the situation as individuals and as a group.  And though they piss each other off, and don’t seem like a group of friends who would help encourage each other to stay in the land of the living, somehow it works and they help each other find a reason to keep going.  I liked how everything didn’t go the way “it should have,” that it wasn’t predictable or have smooth edges, kind of like life. (This book does have a lot of profanities, fyi.)

favorite quotes:
“And what I’d done is, I’d pissed my life away.  Literally.  Well, OK, not literally literally.  I hadn’t, you know, turned my life into urine and stored it in my bladder and so on and so forth.” p. 11

“If you borrow someone else’s clothes or their interests or their words, what they say, then it can give you a bit of a rest from yourself, I find.” p. 68

“People have children for all sorts of reasons, I know, but one of those reasons must be that children growing up make you feel that life has a sense of momentum – kids send you on a journey.  Matty and I got stuck at the bus stop, though.” p. 100

“I was beginning to realize an important truth about suicide: Failure is as hurtful as success, and is likely to provoke even more anger, because there’s no grief with which to water it down.” p. 127

“If my words became any wearier, they would no longer have the energy to crawl up my throat and out of my mouth.  I could imagine them slithering back down to where they’d come from.” p. 136

“When you get road rage, a tiny part of you knows you’re being a jerk, but when you get music rage, you’re carrying out the will of God, and God wants these people dead.” p. 195

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