Long Way Down – Jason Reynolds

Long Way Down

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

As a reader of predominantly fantasy and science fiction, Long Way Down was quite outside my general realm of reading. It is a book written in verse, which is a style that I haven’t read since high school. That is also exactly the reason why I wanted to read it. It is important to stay well-rounded in your reading and sometimes delve into genres that you don’t typically tackle. I also saw the author, Jason Reynolds speak at an author convention and wanted to experience his works.

Long Way Down is a book about this kid Will, who just lost his brother to gun violence. In the first part of the book, he watches his brother get shot and his mother fall to pieces. He wakes the next day determined to get revenge and justice for his brother by taking out the person that killed him. The rest of the book takes place over the course of one single minute, an elevator ride that doesn’t seem to end.

The book is poignant and well written, forcing the reader (and Will) to think with each devastating word dropped on the page. Will is faced with ghosts, both figuratively and ‘literally’ as he is joined by a new person from his life as the elevator drops floor by floor. It was an interesting way to display Will’s conscience and inner turmoil with what he was about to do. It turned the struggle into a visible battle that the reader could experience with the character and made it much more impactful.

Although books written in verse are still not my personal preference, this book was fantastically written and completely warrants the praise that it has received. The voice is authentically written and emotional, the experience feels real for the reader, and you’re left just as broken as Will – and unsure of what happens when the doors open and his brother says “Are you coming?” The reader gets to decide what they think happens next and that’s what makes the book even more impactful.

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