Review: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Quick review for a quick read. You know how sometimes when you finish a book that you love and you don’t exactly how to put into words how much you loved the experience? I’m having that particular open-mouthed realization after finishing “Long Way Down.” It was absolutely brilliant. When listening to the interview with the author after the audiobook narration, he basically sums up this book as “Boyz in the Hood” meets “A Christmas Carol” – and that’s an apt description for it.

Will is a boy whose brother’s just been killed in a shooting and thus he ventures out to get revenge according to a set of “Rules” that he was taught (1. Don’t cry. 2. Don’t snitch. 3. Get revenge.). Will reaches an elevator and starts to make the descent down, but on every floor, he encounters someone who was a part of his life at some point…someone who ended up dead. Will’s understandably freaked out over these events, but each encounter brings him to some realization and bargaining about what Will wants to do – take another person’s life even if he isn’t certain of all the truths of the situation. The novel is written in verse, so it gives short but sweet depictions of Will’s experiences. It’s hard not to feel how emotional this experience is, especially taking into consideration Will’s encounters and the reality of it all (since it’s a part of the experiences of many struggling youths.) I definitely felt choked up as I read through the narrative.

It was my first experience reading Jason Reynolds’ work, and I’d love to read more. Definitely one of my favorite reads of this past year.

Overall score: 5/5 stars.

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