Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
If you haven’t read anything by Jason Reynolds yet, you need to simply because he is an amazing writer. A great place to start is with Long Way Down, his newest book.
In Long Way Down, we meet Will, a 15 year old whose brother, Shawn, was just murdered on the street. Will has been raised to believe in 3 rules: no crying, no snitching and getting revenge. He tucks a gun into his pants and steps into an elevator to go and find Shawn’s killer. During the ride down, where the majority of the book takes place, Will “meets” people from his past and must decide whether to avenge his brother’s death or break the rules he has been taught to respect.
The entire book is written in verse and Reynold’s sentences are powerful and direct. Because of this, this book is accessible to so many readers, including reluctant ones. Students will find themselves devouring this book and this is especially important for our striving readers who will find they are turning the pages quickly due to both the great writing and because some have only a few words. This book is deep, fast and emotional and is a great opportunity for our students who need to see into a world they may nothave experienced and also make connections to people they may not have realized they have something in common with. This book is so relevant to our world today, it is sure to spark conversation and cause a buzz in your room.
I can see this book being a great addition to any middle or high school book shelf. As always, you know your students best and who needs what book at what time in their reading lives.