Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Photo by Erin ~ Originally on Instagram

Reviews by Erin @moominmama15 on Instagram, Kate @theloudlibrarylady on Instagram and Kim @whatkreads on Instagram.

Thank you @kidlitexchange for providing us with an advance copy to read and review. All opinions are my own.


Long Way Down By Jason Reynolds
(October 24th 2017 ~ Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books)

Book Description from Goodreads

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. 

Review by Erin

This YA novel is a cautionary tale told in verse. This is Will’s story. It starts with a bullet and ends with a challenge. It’s a story about gun violence, about family and loyalty, and about ghosts. The number of ghosts in Will’s past are the number of friends and family members who have been killed by guns. And that alone is heart-breaking. This is a five star read and should be required reading in schools. I purchased a copy for my stepdaughter and she will pass it around among her friends. Looking forward to more from this author!

Review by Kate

Amazingly powerful YA story in verse, including elements of magical realism. Reynolds pounds home messages about family, gun violence and life choices using terse lyrical language in this brief and timely volume that definitely requires acceptance by the reader of the impact of voices from beyond the grave to teach harsh life lessons. Required purchase for high school libraries.

Review by Kim

This is an incredibly powerful book that needs to be in every library, YA classroom and readily available to so many readers. It’s creative delivery and message will leave a lasting impact.

Will has grown up being told to follow three rules: no crying, no snitching, seek revenge. When his brother is shot, he grabs a gun, enters an elevator and knows what he must do. Something magical happens on that 60 second ride. At every floor someone from Will’s past enters the elevator. All are dead and all were involved in an act of gun violence.

Jason Reynolds is brilliant. This story is told in verse with each page only consisting of a few sentences. Perfect example why words are persuasive. Especially when they are breathtakingly sparse, but incredibly convincing.

A truly unforgettable book that needs to be at the top of everyone’s must read list.

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2 thoughts on “Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Add yours

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