It’s my week to drive, and I usually have an audiobook going to keep myself awake. I was scrambling at the last minute this morning, attempting to find something to listen to, and found Long Way Down not checked out. I was super surprised, and downloaded it immediately. I returned it when I got to school this morning and there is now a wait list of four or five people, so I feel like I got lucky.
Synopsis (from Amazon):
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. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.
And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.
Told in short, fierce staccato narrative verse, Long Way Down is a fast and furious, dazzlingly brilliant look at teenage gun violence, as could only be told by Jason Reynolds.
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#bookaday Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. #StickyNoteReview Long Way Down is like The Christmas Carol in the hood. I'd forgotten it was a novel in verse until Reynolds started reading. Immediately, it was a gut-punch of emotion. Reynolds reading definitely added something to the story – rate, inflection, etc. make such a difference with poetry. It's so personal. This narrative lends itself well to poetry – there's a sense of urgency to the story that is reflected through short lines, line breaks, and word choice – this 60 seconds in the elevator. It led me with this impatient toe-tapping feeling – how much longer until he reaches the bottom and what's he going to do once he gets there? One thing I didn't expect was the length. I was disappointed that Will's elevator ride only took me the ride to work to finish (this is, in no way, a criticism of the story – I just thought I'd have more time.) #bookstagram #instabook #bookreview #snrtbs