Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds burns straight through to the soul with pulsing verses that are sure to leave you stunned as you follow Will in his grieving desire to make a heavy mistake.
Vengeance is all-consuming and pitch black. Will isn’t aware of its power yet, but he’s teetering on the edge of it because his brother is never coming back. He wavers between uncertainty and determination in a way that made my heart hurt for him, for so many different reasons. His encounters with the family and friends that he’s lost for those long seconds in that elevator are chilling, but also a reminder of how those we’ve loved and lost still have a hold on our hearts, even when we think they’ve mostly faded from our memories.
This novel will urge you to think about people and community–how individuals are often forgotten in the midst of a frenzy of tragic news on a screen. While you only receive snapshots of the characters through these poems, you’re left with a sobering understanding after they’ve said their piece. The final two words of this novel are particularly succinct and wrenching, the kind that stick in the brain long after closing the book and setting it aside.
“People always love people more when they’re dead.”
A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
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.
Buy Long Way Down at The Strand here.
(This happens to be my favorite indie, but please support your local ones!)
The theatrical adaptation of Long Way Down opens at The Kennedy Center on October 27, 2018. Grab tickets here while you can!
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