Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, narrated by the author
Published Oct 2017
I haven’t done a proper book review in awhile on here, but I really wanted to share this one because it was a book I probably would not have picked up on my own, if I hadn’t already been using it as part of a teen verse novel booklist already. It’s not a topic that jumps out at you to pick up. Will’s older brother Shawn is killed right in front of him. Will must follow The Rules (Don’t Cry or Snitch and Take revenge on whoever has hurt your family/friends) and exact his revenge on his brother’s killer. So he puts a gun in his waistband and takes the elevator down from the 8th floor down to the lobby. I liked that the author, in the notes at the end, called the book a combination of “A Christmas Carol meets Boyz in the Hood” and that’s pretty accurate. It honestly took me awhile to figure out if the people were all in his head or actually real. Basically, at every floor in the minute it takes to get from his floor to the Lobby, he sees all these important people in his life that were killed by guns, and each gives insight into Will and his brother Shawn, how things have come to a head with Shawn’s death, and how Will is handling or sometimes not handling his grief.
I also loved that the whole point of the book, according to the author, is for everyone to gain a little empathy into the lives of others, and the author does this by forcing us to experience Will’s pain at his brother’s death and giving us an insight into how things have been for his family and friends. In this review, the author also said “Even though this book is an obvious warning against gun violence, it is also meant to humanize young people in the midst of all of this.” I adored the poetry form that he decided to do the novel in and language he used was gorgeous and rich, despite the hard-to-hear subject matter. I really enjoyed this book and very glad I decided to listen to the audiobook read by the author because only an author knows how to put the right emphasis on the words. Highly recommended for ages 13+, 5 stars.