Four people meet on top of a popular suicide building on New Years Eve, and although none of these four know each other, they all have the same intention of jumping. These characters couldn’t be more different from one another: Martin is a divorced middle-aged celebrity who has just gotten out of prison for sleeping with a fifteen year old; Maureen is the mother of a disabled teenager and hasn’t had a social life–or any life in nineteen years; Jess is a teenaged troublemaker whose sister disappeared a few years prior, and JJ is an American whose band just broke up and his girlfriend has left him.
When the four get to talking on top of the roof, they learn that maybe they can help one another for the next six weeks when they will reevaluate their lives and decide whether or not they still want to commit suicide. Throughout the rest of the novel, the characters band together to fix some of the messes that they’ve made and even make right out of a few wrongs. But in the end will it be enough for these characters to find a reason to live?
It sounds like a depressing novel, but it really isn’t. Hornby has a dark kind of humor that lets the reader know that–hey, it really isn’t as bad as it seems. Each character has his own voice in the novel as each chapter is written from a different character’s point of view, so not only did I get to see the character through his/her own eyes, but also each character through the others’ eyes. One of my favorite aspects of a book is point of view, and I think that Hornby does a great job of giving each character a distinct and unique voice.
In the end, though, it didn’t keep me interested enough in the story. I sometimes found myself forcing my way through each chapter to try and figure out just exactly where this unlikely story was going. I didn’t care about most of the characters, particularly Martin and Jess who I strongly disliked, and for such a serious topic (ie suicide), I thought the plot was rather superficial. Grrrr! I know others really love Hornby, and I enjoyed High Fidelity when I read it two years ago, but I was really disappointed in this one. I did, however, get a kick out of the literature/music references in the book and particularly loved JJ’s thoughts on reading:
“Why does reading freak people out so much? Sure, I could be pretty antisocial when we were on the road, but if I was playing a Game Boy hour after hour, no one would be on my case. In my social circle, blowing up ****ing space monsters is socially acceptable in a way that American Pastoral isn’t” (193).
Yes, JJ. My thoughts exactly! Do I recommend this one? If you’re a Hornby fan, go for it. Otherwise, I don’t know if I’ll be passing this one on or keeping my copy. And another warning–the language is incredibly bad. I’m not a prude when it comes to language, but it is quite excessive.
Booo! I hate writing reviews like this. And maybe it is exacerbated by my blogging slump of late. I’ve hardly been on my reader at all the past few weeks. And I hate that, but I’m finding myself a little discouraged at my lack of “free” time and the amount that my favorite bloggers post. This is not a gripe at you guys, but I am having to figure out the best way to read the blogs that I love. It may come down to skipping meme posts–the Monday Musings, Library Loot, Friday Fill-ins, etc. Or picking one or two posts from a blogger a week instead of trying to catch up with 7 posts at the end of the week? Anyway, for now I’ve just been avoiding. And although you probably don’t notice my absence, I notice and it bugs me.
How do you keep up with blogging without it running your life?