A Long Way Down

by Nick Hornby

I ought to have read something more than a brief summary before getting this book from the library. If I had known it was a thoroughly contemporary British novel, I probably wouldn’t have read it…too much editing was required. Dirty mouths!

But, aside from the language, it was a rather interesting story. A Long Way Down has four narrators – Martin, Maureen, Jess, and JJ – who, by coincidence, each go to the roof of a very tall building at midnight on New Year’s Eve with the intention of committing suicide by jumping off. The strange circumstances lead them to go back downstairs, and over the next three months they (somewhat unwillingly) help (and sometimes destroy) each other’s lives.

Rating: Unless this plot sounds desperately thrilling, like a book you couldn’t live without reading, skip it.

Momo

by Michael Ende

This is the only book I ever remember my dad reading to my siblings and I; I’m not sure that we even finished. But it is an excellent book.
Momo is a young girl who comes to live in an old amphitheater. Everyone in the little village loves her, because she helps them solve their problems. Actually, what Momo does best is listen: she listens patiently, and she listens with interest. Two men who were once friends and have entered a long feud go to see Momo, and with her “help” manage to sort things out.

The main theme of the book, however, is time. The Men in Gray have begun appearing throughout the village and city, although few people notice them. They work for the TimeSavings Bank, where people can deposit the time they save – and, supposedly, withdraw it later. The result of the Men in Gray is that the citizens become obsessed with saving time, whether by converting an inn into a fast food restaurant or by creating “child depots” where children will be out of the way, learning “useful” skills.

Momo is definitely not as intricate a story as Neverending Story, but it is well-written and captivating. The message is clear and applicable. Rating: read it, but read Neverending Story first.