Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Publication by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books on October 24th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Poetry
Format: Hardcover + Audiobook
Jason Reynolds addresses the cycle of gun violence, toxic masculinity, and family in this amazingly crafted novel. We follow fifteen year old Will, who’s brother has just been murdered. We follow him as he decides whether or not he’s going to murder the person who killed his brother. Because Will knows the rules; no crying, no snitching, get revenge.
The rules are the rules. But then there are sixty seconds in an elevator. But then there are sixty seconds to decide. Sixty seconds, seven floors, three rules, one gun.
is just so hard
Imagine waking up
got you strapped down
got pliers shoved
into your mouth,
gripping a tooth
somewhere in the back,
one of the big
and rips it out.
Imagine the knocking
in your head,
the pressure pushing
through your ears,
the blood pooling.
But the worst part,
the absolute worst part,
is the constant slipping
of your tongue
into the new empty space,
where you know
a tooth supposed to be
but ain’t no more.”
I’m still new to books in verse, but I’ve found that I absolutely love them. The feelings they inspire, the impact they make. And this one is no different, it’s powerful and heartfelt, it’s gut-wrenching and thought provoking. Once you pick it up, you wont be able to put it down.
I read this first and then listened to it via audiobook (the author reads it himself and it’s amazing and definitely listen to the interview with Reynolds at the end) and then I read it again, along with the audiobook. Each time I reread it, the impact and feelings the book invoked got stronger and stronger. I noticed all the nuances more on each reread, but it only took reading this once to notice how absolutely incredible this book is. A brilliant must read.
gets passed down like name-brand
t-shirts around here. Always to big.
Never ironed out.
gets inherited like a trunk of fool’s
gold or a treasure map leading
came knocking on my brother’s life,
kicked the damn door down and took
everything except his gold chain.”
About the book
A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
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?
Gun violence, death, grief, murder, violence, child death, blood, drug use, cursing, death of a parent (in the past), death of a friend (in the past), and death of a sibling.