*Before anything else, I want thank Diverse Book Bridge again for giving me a hardcover copy of this book for free. They are truly awesome. FOR TEENS: Go check them here. Their main goal is to give marginalized teens a copy of diverse books that represents them or for reasons, cannot buy or purchase themselves. FOR EVERYONE: If you want to donate books to them for marginalized teens, also click here for the form.*
Title: Long Way Down
Author: Jason Reynolds
Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Publishing Date: October 24th 2017
Number of Pages: 320
Genre: Young Adult Realistic Fiction, Poetry
A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
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.
I have read this in less than 3 hours. Fast reading speed, yes, but MAN, THAT FELT LIKE A HELL OF A LONG WAY DOWN.
Long Way Down is a novel in verse where we follow the story of Will, a Black American teenager, whose elder brother, Shawn, was shoot dead at the front of their apartment building. Then, Will, while grieving, thought about the rules his brother Shawn taught him: no crying, no snitching and get revenge. And decided to follow it. But just when he was just about to get revenge, stepping inside the elevator of their apartment building, crazy things happened.
This is about brotherhood, grief, rules and questioning yourself and impulsive decisions.
I was impressed by how Jason Reynold made that intense of a story set in just one place – mostly (like 85%) on an elevator going down.
I also love how it was written. Not only the fact that it is in verse but how the words were put together themselves. The rhyme of the words sounds beautiful to my ears. And I loved the anagrams. Two different words, one pulled out from the another, both with so much impact and power. All simple words were given deep meaning in this book. And I felt like Wil was really talking to me. His words seeped through me. I felt the grief, the tension, the shock, the confusion, the sadness in this book.
There is also a gate/door at the page after the dedication, right before the story started and it made me feel like I was literally going inside of this building or elevator or whatever that gate for is. It was exciting and daunting at the same time because it made me feel like it wouldn’t be easy to go out. And I was right. There is also the same at the end. And seeing that, made me feel like finally, I’m going out. This really made the experience felt real and different than any other books I have read before.
Are you coming?
The end was like a bomb that shookedt the hell out of me. I don’t know how did Mr. Jason Reynolds make this so twisty and torturing. Hats off!
Overall, I am really impressed with this book. It is definitely worth the wait and anticipation. And I would highly recommend this for those who are finding a quick read, a verse novel, a book about brotherhood or just a book with a torturous ending.
After earning a BA in English from The University of Maryland, College Park, he moved to Brooklyn, New York, where you can often find him walking the four blocks from the train to his apartment talking to himself. Well, not really talking to himself, but just repeating character names and plot lines he thought of on the train, over and over again, because he’s afraid he’ll forget it all before he gets home.
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Have you read Long Way Down? What’s your favorite novel in verse? What’s your thoughts about books that are mostly set just in one place? Share your thoughts below!