Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel

S. & S./Atheneum. Oct. 2020. 208p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781534444959.
Gr 9 Up–After witnessing the fatal shooting of his older brother Shawn, 15-year-old Will Holloman must decide whether to follow the rules of his neighborhood that require revenge. Armed with a gun from Shawn’s dresser, Will boards his building’s elevator and as it descends weighs the gravity of what he is considering doing, the loss that preceded Shawn’s death, and the repercussions. At each floor, a new, deceased individual enters and tells their story. Smoky watercolors with rough edges bleed and blend into each other and into unblemished empty spaces in this graphic adaptation of the novel in verse. The all-Black cast of characters is given complexity and nuance, even as they try to live by a code that is figuratively black and white. A denim-blue and white palette depicts those who have passed, while inky black and grays illustrate both the oppressiveness of the neighborhood’s rules and the weight of the anguish they inflict upon the community. Pops of color—red for blood and fear, the yellow of a grocery bag smiley face, police tape, and Will’s T-shirt—are used sparingly but consistently, as reminders of life and obstacles that carry on past death. Much of the text is internal dialogue, including the conversations between Will and the elevator’s occupants. Guns and death are depicted through a fallen body and the spread of blood. No curse words are used.
VERDICT Reynolds’s words paint pictures of their own in this tragic yet poignant illustrated tale that offers no answers to the seemingly impossible choices some communities face.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing