Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds | SLJ Review

redstarREYNOLDS, Jason. Long Way Down. 320p. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Bks. Oct. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481438254.

Gr 8 Up –Fifteen-year-old Will’s big brother has been shot and killed. According to the rules that Will has been taught, it is now his job to kill the person responsible. He easily finds his brother’s gun and gets on the elevator to head down from his eighth-floor apartment. But it’s a long way down to the ground floor. At each floor, a different person gets on to tell a story. Each of these people is already dead. As they relate their tales, readers learn about the cycle of violence in which Will is caught up. The protagonist faces a difficult choice, one that is a reality for many young people. Teens are left with an unresolved ending that goes beyond the simple question of whether Will will seek revenge. Told in verse, this title is fabulistic in its simplicity and begs to be discussed. Its hook makes for an excellent booktalk. It will pair well with Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give and Reynolds’s previous works. The unique narrative structure also makes it an excellent read-alike for Walter Dean Myers’s MonsterVERDICT This powerful work is an important addition to any collection.–Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH

This review was published in the School Library Journal July 2017 issue.

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