Will’s brother was shot, and now he must follow The Rules. The Rules mean that he can’t cry. And he must get revenge. Will takes his brother’s gun, gets in the elevator, and goes down. But the elevator stops, and someone gets on.
Why this book?: I saw the author in a talk, and knew that this book was something. After letting the talk sink in, I picked it up, and prepared myself to be wowed.
Long Way Down is one of those books where you expect something about it to change your life, but when it happens, it still surprises you.
I picked up Long Way Down after I had seen the author, Jason Reynolds, speak at my college about the importance of listening to the younger generations. He did it all with a short story about a man he met on the plane ride to my city, how he had been struggling with opening a bag of chips, when all he had to do was tear down the perforations. Because, it really is simple as that. Children, from toddlers to teens, aren’t some sort of puzzle box that will take decades to understand. We’re people just like you, and all you have to do is ask.
So, Jason left a real impression on me, and my mom, who witnessed my tears while he talked. I knew that Long Way Down was something new, something that you need to pay attention to, only from the fact that it came from Jason-fucking-Reynolds.
Onto the actual story, though. Long Way Down is a very quick story to read, mainly because it punches you in the gut and forces you to pay attention, but also because it’s written in verse. The narrator’s (Will) brother dies within the first few pages, and from there, the story gets harder and harder to read. I don’t have experience in living how it was presented in this book, but I knew–I KNEW–how honest and straight-forward Jason was being.
The entire novel takes place within an elevator, on the ride to the lobby. The choices for who gets on at each level is shocking and so meaningful, and every time another person came on, I got goosebumps.
And then the goddamn book ended.
Jason leaves you with the book only half finished, and that was probably my favorite part. He lets you consider Will’s actions, and lets YOU decide how it ends up going. So, even though I was mad at first, because how dare he leave us like that, but it’s actually really telling about how you read the story, how you see the character, and how well you know that type of life.
Final Rating: ★★★★★
This was my first Jason Reynolds novel. I haven’t read American Boys, or anything else, but I knew that I wanted this one to be the first. It was quick, meaningful, and telling. It was sad, yet hopeful.
Would I Recommend?
I would recommend Jason Reynolds. I would recommend Long Way Down. And I will continue to recommend both until I find something, however improbable, that tells me I shouldn’t. Until then, read his books.
Published: October 24th, 2017
Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Page Count: 320
Synopsis: via Goodreads
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?