Wednesday, December 6, 2017
YA Pick: Long Way Down
by Jason Reynolds
Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Gripping and mesmerizing, Long Way Down will INVOLVE readers. Will (William) Holloman recounts the night of his brother's murder and how he will exact revenge on the killer because that's how his neighborhood and his life works. Everyone in his neighborhood knows the rules.
Will knows who shot his brother and knows his brother has a gun. Will grabs that gun and decides to take matters into his own hands. He steps into the elevator to go down to the street. On each floor, Will is met by someone from his past. Each person is along for the ride and each person has been affected by gun violence. Will must listen to each one's powerful story and decide what it means for him.
Told in verse, this is one story that will tug at hearts and make heads hurt. The poetry is sometimes written as a "concrete" poem where the poem is placed on the page to create the effect of an earthquake or one word on a white page. Shawn. Will's dead brother's name. Or one word repeated in the shape of a question mark. The word "right?" These pages are the strongest and most beautiful causing the reader to take a moment to think and admire the art of true poetry and storytelling.
Cover art is thoughtful and effective as the reflection of a boy is shown on the elevator door along with the buttons for each floor.The reader is left wondering what path Will will take, and maybe that's the point of the character's name: Will.
Jason Reynolds is writing some of the most powerful books on the market--the books that must be talked about and it's refreshing. For those kids who like Reynolds, felt they didn't see characters like themselves in books, he is writing their stories. Long Way Down will be a strong contender in prize categories for next year. I expect it to take top state honors and likely be a National Book Award Finalist.
Highly, highly recommended for grade 9 and up. A must have for all collections. I would place copies in poetry and also in YA Fiction to insure it is read by all its fans.
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.