Title: Long Way Down
Author: Jason Reynolds
Genre: Literary Verse Fiction
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Synopsis from Goodreads:
After Will’s brother is shot in a gang crime, he knows the next steps. Don’t cry. Don’t snitch. Get revenge. So he gets in the lift with Shawn’s gun, determined to follow The Rules. Only when the lift door opens, Buck walks in, Will’s friend who died years ago. And Dani, who was shot years before that. As more people from his past arrive, Will has to ask himself if he really knows what he’s doing.
and welcome to my review of Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. I had no idea what this book was until a colleague at work raved about it, and I just had to read it. Thankfully, we had just ordered three copies of it, so it was easy for me to get my hands on it and read it in one sitting.
Just like with my previous review of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, the usual template does not really work for this one. So I want to warn you now, **There Are Spoilers Ahead**. Please, beware of this, and if you have not read this book, do so. It won’t take you long to read, but it will stay with you forever.
When I read about Will getting into an elevator I though the story might be dull, but it was not. Having lived in Chicago for three years – even though sheltered – still exposed me to certain life experiences that came back to my mind reading this books. And I have to say, both the illustrations and the verse format add so much to the story. The feelings Will experiences you can visually see on the page: loss, fear, regret, hatred, insecurity, need for affection and guidance.
Then his past walks into the elevator. His brother’s friend, his childhood friend, his uncle, his father, until his brother himself walks in. The elevator is crammed, both with people and raw emotions. Will’s courage wavers, his anger questioned. Confusion blinds his purpose, until, in the end, his brother’s “You coming?” cuts the story off.
And you’re left wondering. Is Will going to do it? Is he going to prolong the cycle of death, revenge and ephemeral courage, or is he going to break the cycle? I still have no answer to this question, and the more people I ask and talk to, the more diverse answers I receive.
Other than being just a great read, Long Way Down‘s great strength also lies on the fact that it is accessible. It is not pretentious, patronizing or dreadfully long; it is just right. A valuable book for young adults who struggle to find their own voice, this verse novel will reach out to them and make them think, make them wonder, make them share. In other words, everyone should read this book.
If you have read it, please comment below what you thought of it, your opinions and feelings.
Until next time,