Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds | Book Review

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds | Book ReviewLong Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Also by this author: The Boy in the Black Suit, All American Boys, Outer Order, Inner Calm, The Collectors: Stories
Published by Simon and Schuster on October 24, 2017
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Family, Novels in Verse, Social Themes, Violence
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon

“An intense snapshot of the chain reaction caused by pulling a trigger.” —Booklist (starred review) “Astonishing.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review) “A tour de force.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
A Newbery Honor Book A Coretta Scott King Honor Book A Printz Honor Book A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Winner for Young Adult Literature Longlisted for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature Winner of the Walter Dean Myers Award An Edgar Award Winner for Best Young Adult Fiction Parents’ Choice Gold Award Winner An Entertainment Weekly Best YA Book of 2017 A Vulture Best YA Book of 2017 A Buzzfeed Best YA Book of 2017
An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds’s electrifying novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.
A cannon. A strap. A piece. A biscuit. A burner. A heater. A chopper. A gat. A hammer A tool for RULE
Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he?
As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator?
Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.
And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if Will gets off that elevator.
Told in short, fierce staccato narrative verse, Long Way Down is a fast and furious, dazzlingly brilliant look at teenage gun violence, as could only be told by Jason Reynolds.

Jason Reynolds is a master writer. Seriously, everything he writes is just golden. Whether he is writing in long form, interconnected short stories, or free verse, the final product will be excellent. Long Way Down is a free verse book that I purchased during the campaign to Black Out The Best Seller list. Finally, several months later, I have gotten to it. And am utterly blown away, as always. I am so glad, however, that I saved this book to begin my 2021 reading as it was just spectacular.

Long Way Down is a short free verse book about fifteen year old Will Holloman. Will’s brother Shawn just died and so, Will must follow the rules. The rules are: No Crying, No Snitching, Get Revenge. As the book opens, Will is getting on an elevator to shoot this guy, Riggs, who he believed killed Shawn. As Will goes to the correct floor, different people get onto the elevator with him – people from Will’s past. Each person is someone Will knows who died due to gun violence. Six people. Does Will continue the cycle of violence or will he disrupt it? Your guess is as good as mine, honestly. The ending is left up in the air.

I am, of course, astounded by Long Way Down. Reynolds’ story has me thinking about where I live. As many of you know I live in a suburb of Syracuse which is no stranger to gun and gang violence. I found myself thinking about the trauma and childhood ACEs people who live in these neighborhoods experience – particularly seeing the news about deaths due to gun violence so consistently.

It has to shake one’s sense of safety. Particularly when you have the rules to follow like Will does. The violence is show to be cyclical but also nonsensical in this book. And well, I find myself still wondering what choice Will ends up making and just so profoundly impacted. This is one of those books I am really excited to pass along – particularly to youth that I know will see themselves reflected in this. Long Way Down was a worthy read to start the year with.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I agree! I discovered Reynolds with an audio version of All American Boys and I just can’t get enough! This one was also great on audio. It’s short, so easy to listen to it twice. A work of art.

  2. I loved this book and I want to pick up the graphic novel! I agree with Carrie that the audio is amazing. I think it was only an hour long.

  3. I read this book a couple of years ago and I still think about it from time to time. I need the graphic novel!