Long Way Down

Long Way Down cover artIf you've been following this blog and trust my reviews, then trust me one more time and read Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds.  This is a novel in verse.  I know that turns some people off (see why I asked you to trust me?).  Anything that smacks of poetry can feel like a school assignment.  This is not that kind of book.

It's about fifteen year old Will.  Will's older brother, Shawn, has just been shot and killed.  In his neighborhood there are three rules:  Don't cry.  Don't snitch.  Get revenge if someone you love is killed.  And Will is going to follow the rules.   He's got Shawn's gun and he's an elevator ride and a walk from the guy he's sure killed his brother.  On the eight floor of his building Will gets on the elevator, but at each floor on the way down the elevator stops and somebody else gets on.  Each person is someone Will knows.  Each makes him think about the rules and what following them will get him.

Listen, some stories are better told through poetry than prose.  They have more of an impact.  This is that kind of book.  The verses move fast as they punch you and Will in the gut.  There's nothing extraneous.  No flowery details to get caught up on or to lessen what Will is going through.  It's just you, and him, and the people in the elevator with him.  The entire story takes place in the space of an elevator ride, but the book has a power that will stay with you long after Will reaches the ground floor.

Lauren C.