Long Way Down
By Jason Reynolds
Publication Date: October 17, 2017 (MY BIRTHDAY!)
Will has witnessed his brother’s murder and he thinks he knows who pulled the trigger. Hell bent on revenge, Rule #3, Will finds his brother’s gun, steps into the elevator, and waits the long way down to the lobby to locate and kill his brother’s murderer. During the one minute it takes to reach the lobby, Will is met with six ghosts who have all died from gunfire. Do these ghosts succeed in persuading Will to not seek revenge?
Long Way Down is told in verse and takes place in an elevator over the span of about one minute. Will only has one minute to make a decision that will change his life for ever and this is only one theme explored in the novel. Rules are a second theme. There are rules when someone is shot and these rules have been passed down among several generations in Will’s family. Will is challenged by the ghosts to break those rules.
This book also includes several vivid metaphors that teens can spend all day picking apart including the cigarette smoke and comparing the gun to a spine which incidentally connects the book cover. The ending is ambiguous and leaves the reader to conclude Will’s choice.
Long Way Down is a good book for teens of all ages. Currently, there are several published books about gangs and gun violence but Reynolds spins this common plot to a story about choice.