A new book by Jason Reynolds is always exciting—it’s well established that he’s up there with our favorite authors. So when I heard that he had a new novel coming out—in verse—I knew that I had to get my hands on it immediately.
Long Way Down is about fifteen-year-old Will, whose brother Shawn has just been murdered. Will is overwhelmed with grief, but he knows the rules his brother taught him: No crying. No snitching. Get revenge. So Will takes his brother’s gun and gets in the elevator, going out to find and kill the person he thinks killed his brother. But this is no ordinary elevator ride—as the door opens on each floor, a new person steps in; all of them are people from Will’s life who have been victims of gun violence and they have things to tell Will that will change everything he thinks he knows.
If you haven’t left this page yet to go read the extended excerpt, here are five reasons to read LONG WAY DOWN right now.
1.Lightening fast read
Be prepared to read this entire book in one sitting—once you get started, it’s impossible to put down.
2. Novel in verse
Jason Reynolds is an incredible writer of prose (and he’s got the awards to prove it!), but he’s been a writer of poetry for longer and even has his own poetry blog. So an entire book in verse from him is an event. His poetry in LONG WAY DOWN is visceral and immediate, staccato and full of symbolism. Some pages only have a couple of words on them, but they speak volumes.
3. 60 Seconds
I love it when a writer takes a risk and does something different or experimental in a book. In LONG WAY DOWN, Jason Reynolds decided to take on writing an entire novel in a compressed amount of time. I’m not talking like a week or a day—I’m talking one minute. That’s right—a 304 page novel spanning sixty seconds. And not one of them is wasted.
4. Timely and Intense
The novel gives a heartwrenching, emotional, intense look at teenage gun violence and how cycles of violence can tear apart families and communities. Will’s feelings in the wake of his brother’s murder—sorrow, anger, confusion, and the obligation he feels to get revenge—are so complex and honest. This is a timely, important, and impactful book.
5. The Ending
This is the kind of ending where you’ll read it, pause, re-read it, and then just sit silently staring at the page for a while, processing it. And then you’ll want to get someone else to read the book immediately, so you can discuss it with them. So….everyone read it immediately! And tell us what you think.
6. Jason narrated the Audiobook
I’m a firm believer that listening to a book counts as reading it, and there is no experience quite as impactful as listening to Jason’s soothing voice!