Long Way Down
Author: Jason Reynolds
Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Release Date: October 24th 2017
Page Count: 320
*Disclaimer: An ARC of Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds was provided to me by Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinion in any way.
Initial Post Reading Thoughts
This is one of those stories that will stay with you forever. Even though it was a super quick read, it was completely engaging and I’ll definitely be thinking about this one for a long time. The story is so uniquely written and it hits you hard. Loved it!
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? 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.
What I Liked
The pacing. This book probably took me a total of an hour and half to read. It was EXTREMELY fast paced and gripping. It was also written in prose which probably helped with how fast I was able to read this novel. The fast pace worked really well with the themes of the story and made it feel all the more realistic.
The concept/execution. Long Way Down tells the story of a young boy named Will who has just lost his older brother due to gun violence. He decides to get revenge on the person he believes killed his brother and this novel takes place on the elevator ride down from his apartment to the ground floor. I LOVED this concept. To have a story take place literally within a few minutes is such an interesting and unique take on storytelling. To then have the elevator stop on every floor only to give Will time to think about what he is about to do. To think about everyone he knew that has been affected by gun violence. This concept was just so smart. As mentioned above, the pacing of this novel was extremely quick. This worked perfectly in making me believe that this was all happening within just a few minutes.
The realness. Long Way Down felt extremely realistic. It was so raw and heart wrenching and I just could not get enough of it. It hurts me to know that situations like the ones that were presented in this novel are all too real. That gun violence is so common and that someone, a teenager, could have so many experiences with it. Long Way Down does a fantastic job in making these issues known, but also in making sure that teens who read this novel realize how gun violence, and making one terrible decision, can change your life forever.
What I Didn’t Like
Loved it all. Clearly, I thought that this book was amazing. There really wasn’t anything that I didn’t like about it. It was real and raw and fast, but it hit you hard. Long Way Down is one of those books that will stay with you for a long time.
Overall, this book was fantastic. It’s such an important read that everyone should pick up. I absolutely loved it.
About The Author
So, I’m a writer. And when I say I’m a writer, I mean it in the same way a professional ball player calls himself an athlete. I practice everyday and do the best I can to be better at this writing thing, while hopefully bringing some cool stories to the world. The stories are kinda like my slam dunks. Except, I’m dunking words. In your FACE! Ha! I graduated from the University of Maryland (where I spent about 65% of my time writing and reciting poetry all over campus…yeah, that was me) with a B.A. in English, then packed my bags and moved to Brooklyn because somebody told me they were giving away dream-come-true vouchers. And if I ever find the person who told me that… let’s just say, no one was giving away anything. ANYTHING. Lucky for me I had all these crazy stories to keep me going. Ten years later, here I am, doing my best to string together an “ABOUT” section on my own website about my own books. Crazy. Here’s what I know: I know there are a lot — A LOT — of young people who hate reading. I know that many of these book haters are boys. I know that many of these book-hating boys, don’t actually hate books, they hate boredom. If you are reading this, and you happen to be one of these boys, first of all, you’re reading this so my master plan is already working (muahahahahahaha) and second of all, know that I feel you. I REALLY do. Because even though I’m a writer, I hate reading boring books too. Here’s what I plan to do: NOT WRITE BORING BOOKS. That’s it, and that’s all.
Thank you for reading!