October 3, 2018

Book Review: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

 

Long Way Down

by Jason Reynolds

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction, Poetry
Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Length: 306 pages
Published: October 24, 2017
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

My Goodreads Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Official Book Summary:

"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."

Quote:

"ANOTHER THING ABOUT THE RULES

They weren't meant to be broken.
They were meant for the broken

to follow."


Excerpt:

"DON'T NOBODY

believe nothing
these days

which is why I haven't
told nobody the story
I'm about to tell you.

And the truth is,
you probably ain't
gon' believe it either
gon' think I'm lying
or I'm losing it,
but I'm telling you,

this story is true.

It happened to me.
Really.

It did."


My Book Review:

Long Way Down is written in verse form, as fifteen-year-old Will sets out with a gun to seek revenge.

The story begins with Will assuring you that what you'e about to read is true. He then tells you of his brother Shawn being murdered. As he thinks about Shawn and his family, he feels compelled to honor "the code" which is to exact revenge on those who wrong you. Getting a gun and leaving his home, Will heads out to do just that.

In the last moments before he would commit a crime he can never undo, he steps in an elevator to take the long way down. On each floor, the elevator stops and a different person joins him. These aren't regular people though; each one is a ghost, a person from his past who was killed or affected by gun violence and each has something they need to say to him to try to get him to reconsider the road before him.

This book is creative, powerful, relevant, and memorable. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the author perform this audiobook, spoken poetry narration and was once again pleased to see a YA author utilizing this genre to reach new audiences.


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