Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds | Book Review

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.

Comments

  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!

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