A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby | Book & Movie Review

Let me start by saying that I first saw the movie and then I read the book and as it is normal, some things get lost during the adaptation, the movie and the book both had a unique beauty.

     T H E   B O O K     A Long Way Down

This is one of those books I just knew it would be impossible to properly review.  One of the few things that made me love it from basically the first pages was the writing and I get why a lot of people may not like it for that reason. But to me the writing was fun. It gave the story the light edge it needed in order the be pretty much a heavy and deep story but told from ordinary people whose thoughts are simple and confused and funny as the situation is developing. It goes without saying but I will mention it anyway that even though this book deals with heavy issues it does not mock them or ridiculous them in any way.

“Hard is trying to rebuild yourself, piece by piece, with no instruction book, and no clue as to where all the important bits are supposed to go.”

Four entirely different people accidentally meet on a roof of a high building called Toppers’ House in London on New Year’s Eve just before they jump off. They each deal with their own issues, issues that honestly a lot of people can identify with. Health issues, financial issues, career and life issues, romantic and again life issues.

Their initial meeting leads to them forming a small group and going on a mission to find Jess’s ex-boyfriend who dumped her, in order for her not to jump. From that point their adventure starts.

    T H E   C H A R A C T E R S     

Martin Sharp, a formerly successful morning show co-host made the mistake of sleeping with a 15 year old and after spending 3 months in prison his life is pretty much ruined. His wife wants a divorce, his two daughters are in the middle of the storm and his career is over, apart from a low popularity TV cable channel. Even his affair with his co-host is slowly falling apart since Martin doesn’t care about anything. He has basically given up on life altogether.

“When you’re unhappy, I guess everything in the world – reading, eating, sleeping – has something buried somewhere inside it that just makes you unhappier.”

Maureen is a 51 year old single mother of a disabled son, Matty. Her life pretty much revolves around her son. She decorates his room with posters even though he doesn’t realize it and she even puts on music and movies and videos that any boy his age would probably – not that she would know – like. She has never gone out of her program and she has never traveled but she wants all her problems to go away and suicide seems the way to do it, of course after securing her son’s future.

“Human beings are millions of things in one day.”

Jess is the rebellious teen. With a no filter brain and a mouth that just won’t stop saying whatever comes to mind she doesn’t have any friends, she can be annoying, and with a father into politics her life is already a mess. On top of that, her older sister who has gone missing, is the last drop and her boyfriend dumping her, pushes her off the edge and suicide seems the solution to her problems.

“We had nothing in common apart from where we’d ended up, on that square of concrete high up in the air, and that was the biggest thing you could possibly have in common with anyone.”

JJ is the musician. He’s an American that moved to London with his girlfriend that loved him for being in a band but when the band broke up, she dumped him and he went from being on top of the world to the top of a roof. Actually he was delivering pizza when he found himself in the building and instead of delivering pizza he ended up on that roof. He’s not a looser though, he often would quote from the books he had read, proving that what you see is not always what you get.

“Why does reading freak people out so much? Sure, I could be pretty anti-social when we were on the road, but if I was playing a Gameboy hour after hour, no one would be on my case. In my social circle, blowing up fucking space monsters is socially acceptable in a way that American Pastoral isn’t.”

What do these random people have in common, I often asked myself. Nothing. They have absolutely nothing in common and that is what they have in common.

They each have a life story and they each have problems to deal with but when they meet on that roof there was an unlike, silent, mutual understanding of each other’s predicament. They each were up there because they had nowhere else to be, and somehow they each found themselves with 3 new sort of friends that they were willing, for a small period of time, to postpone their suicidal plans for.

Just because. And that was just magnificent.

     T H E   M O V I E     

The movie was so well put together and so thoroughly well written it sucked me in from the first scene – I mean how could it not? Four people accidentally interrupting one another from committing suicide is not something that will make me not want to see what the hell is going on with these people.

Based on what I think is a brilliant novel and an exceptionally directed movie by Pascal Chaumeil, the movie really brings the characters to life with a great cast.

This movie showed me that even if you think you are right there, on the edge, there might actually be someone to pull you back and not give you a reason to live but to momentarily distract you from whatever problem you’ve got and go search for someone’s boyfriend, just because at that moment, that is the major problem she has, even if the real and painful ones are much deeper.

In  my opinion and having seen too many movies to count, if a movie makes you want to read the book and explore all the details that had to be cut out, then it is a winner.

The amazing sightings – I love London and unfortunately I haven’t watched as many British movies, based in London, as I would like to – the witty lines delivered from those tragic but altogether funny characters made me fall in love with the story. Fast and hard. And to be honest almost a month later and after having spent a couple of weeks under the sun on the beach reading books, this story – both the movie and the book – is still with me and some lines still make me laugh and some still make me sad. If that is not a successful book adaptation then I don’t know what is.

I can’t recommend it enough and I can’t even begin to say how much this book is one of those books that can actually change a person’s life.

AMAZON US | AMAZON UK | B&N

Let me know if you watch the movie or read the book! What about your favorite book adaptation?

Kei

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