How is the subject of this book handled?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that one of the challenges that Hornby's work faces is that it addresses a topic that can easily be misread as trivializing another. Hornby has argued that the book is not about suicide, as much as it is about individuals feeling that their self- worth has experienced a cataclysmic drop, "another “long way down."  Yet, the book is perceived to be about suicide given the fact that the four characters meet on the roof of Toppers House.  

It is in this light where the book has been criticized as being "tripe" and "maudlin" because it is perceived to be addressing suicide.  In this light, the book displays people who have suicidal tendencies as simply needing an audience.  Such an idea feeds the notion that the book trivializes suicide.  Hornby depicts characters who do need an audience, but not to alleviate suicide.  The characters are not going to Toppers Point with the absolute commitment towards suicide. Instead, they go there as a part of an exploration within identities that lack self- worth and feelings of validation. The community that is formed helps to authenticate a notion of self- worth.  It is here in which the book addresses the topic of self- worth in a manner that is constructive.  Yet, if the book is seen as a statement on suicide, which is almost inevitable given the parameters of the characterization, then it will be seen as trivial and not giving proper gravity to a topic that strikes at the very heart of our social being. It is here in which the book finds challenges in having to address a topic, suicide, that is not its primary focal point.

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