Essay on A Long Way Down

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Suicide and humor are two words not often associated with each other, but Nick Hornby takes the pair on in his novel A Long Way Down, a dark comedy about suicide and life after a failed attempt. The book is narrated by four characters taking turns telling the story in their voice. The resulting hodgepodge gang includes Martin, a quasi celebrity who loses everything after an affair with a fifteen-year old girl; Maureen, the middle-aged mother of a severely disabled son; Jess, an obnoxious teenager living recklessly to avoid her reality of a missing sister; and JJ, the American and aspiring musician who's found himself lonely and alone in England. This unexpected group meets on New Year's Eve on the roof of the well-known suicide spot…show more content…
Reaching the roof on their Valentine's reunion, Maureen observes that with the end of daylight savings time "even though it seemed dark when we were down on the street, up on the roof it felt as though there were some light left somewhere in the city" (Hornby 330). From the point in the novel when the group first descends from the roof, every aspect of the story is building towards this end, in which the hopeful theme is fully realized. Late in the night in which the group first meet, Martin jokes, "A trouble shared is a trouble halved, and because there are four of us, it's actually been quartered" (Hornby 102). Although said mockingly, Jess agrees and even with just hours of time together, this adage rings true for the desperate four. The importance of camaraderie and community in finding hope is persistent through the end of the story. After witnessing the man actually jump from the tower block, it is Martin who honestly says, "I'm not, you know. Ready to go solo just yet. It's funny because I don't actually like any of you very much. But you seem to be, I don't know…What I need" (Hornby 240). The ending of A Long Way Down clearly enforces Hornby's chosen theme, though as just another happy ending it is disappointing.
Even disguised, this happily-ever-after ending is both predictable and unsatisfying. Since the story is

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