This book was a birthday gift from my incredible husband. He went to National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE) back in November, managed to get me TWO signed copies of Jason Reynolds’ books (the other was the fantastic All American Boys co-written with Brendan Kiely), and then sat on them for an entire month waiting for my birthday. I was astounded and delighted. Reynolds is quickly becoming one of my favorite young adult writers, and this book makes an excellent companion to his previous All American Boys, Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give, or Kekla Magoon’s How It Went Down, all of which deal with young adults of color and gun violence.
Long Way Down is a novel in verse that takes place in the 60 seconds it takes to go seven flights in an elevator. Will’s older brother Shawn has been killed, and Will is trying to avenge his death. He is going by The Rules, which involves No Crying, No Snitching, and Avenge/Revenge. He has found Shawn’s gun in his secret stash and is determined to do the right thing by his brother. But as he boards the elevator heading down, he is visited by several people in his life, both past and present. He begins to analyze his own doubts about what he will do, and if doing the right thing means what he thinks it does.
This is, in short, an incredible novel. The verses are short and fast-paced in a staccato rhythm. Reynolds is a gifted writer with a distinctive voice, and the genre of novel in verse fits him so well. This is an engaging and provocative novel. I am glad I own a signed copy and that I could crown my triple cannonball on something so timely and moving.
Cross-posted to my blog.