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Long Way Down
by Jason Reynolds


Overview - Longlisted for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature
Parents' Choice Gold Award Winner

An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds's fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds--the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he's going to murder the guy who killed his brother.  Read more...


 
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More About Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
 
 
 
Overview
Longlisted for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature
Parents' Choice Gold Award Winner

An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds's fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds--the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he's going to murder the guy who killed his brother.

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

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? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that's when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn's gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn't know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck's in the elevator? Just as Will's trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck's cigarette. Will doesn't know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END...if WILL gets off that elevator.

Told in short, fierce staccato narrative verse, Long Way Down is a fast and furious, dazzlingly brilliant look at teenage gun violence, as could only be told by Jason Reynolds.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781481438254
  • ISBN-10: 1481438255
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books
  • Publish Date: October 2017
  • Page Count: 320
  • Reading Level: Ages 13-17
  • Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Young Adult Fiction > Family - General (see also headings under Social Themes)
Books > Young Adult Fiction > Novels in Verse
Books > Young Adult Fiction > Social Themes - Violence

 
BookPage Reviews

The journey to the ground floor

BookPage Teen Top Pick, November 2017

Fifteen-year-old Will Holloman is, indeed, a hollow man (as suggested by his last name). His older brother, Shawn, has been shot and killed, and Will’s sadness over Shawn’s absence is like a tooth that has been ripped out, and his tongue keeps slipping “into the new empty space, / where you know / a tooth supposed to be / but ain’t no more.” Now Will intends to follow the three rules of the street: no crying, no snitching, get revenge. He’s going to play by the rules, which “weren’t meant to be broken. / They were meant for the broken / to follow.” With his brother’s gun in the waistband of his jeans, he heads to his building’s elevator. And here, acclaimed author Jason Reynolds’ brilliant new novel-in-verse (recently nominated for a National Book Award) becomes a ghost story—a gritty, streetwise A Christmas Carol.

As the elevator descends, different ghosts of shootings past—each connected to Will in sometimes surprising ways—enter the carriage. They share experiences, question him and challenge his motives. It’s a long way down from the eighth floor to the lobby, but it only takes seven floors, 60 seconds and six ghosts to make him question his quest for revenge. Reynolds’ elegant verse begs to be read aloud, and teachers will want to discuss what Will might have taken away from each ghostly visit. An ambiguous ending prompts further questions: What, if anything, has Will learned? Is he destined to be just another “block boy” looking to off somebody?

 

This article was originally published in the November 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews