Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Long Way Down

Long Way Down

Fall 2017 Fiction
Ages: 12 & Up
Author: Jason Reynolds
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781481438254
Hardcover Price: $17.99

Jason Reynolds' Long Way Down is a gripping story told in sharp short bursts of narrative verse, and set in the space of a sixty-second elevator ride.

It's a story about brothers, fathers and sons, mothers and sons, broken families, broken neighborhoods and the loaded gun in the back waistband of Will's pants. Reynolds' delivery is not so much storytelling as it is storm -- a flash of lightening followed by thunderclap. It stuns, steals your breath and breaks your heart all at once on every page.

It's Will's storm, he's fifteen, and taking the elevator down from his apartment the day after his brother Shawn is killed. In piercing verse, we learn Shawn's isn't the first senseless death in Will's world. And we learn he has a decision to make (or unmake) because there are rules where he's from -- three, to be exact: no crying, no snitching, take revenge.

The amiable ghosts of tragedies past enter the elevator at different floors. Forgiveness, atonement, hatred and healing all play out, and telling any more than that would be like trying to describe Tchaikovsky. You have to hear it. You have to read this.

It's not technically a long way down, it's seven floors and sixty seconds. But Will says everything in those seven floors, and Jason Reynolds leaves us speechless.

Teresa DiFalco   ©2017 Parents' Choice
Teresa DiFalco is an award-winning ghostwriter, writer, and mother in Vancouver, Washington. She's been a contributing editor for Parents' Choice for over ten years. She's a strong speller, a menace at badminton, and makes a decent soufflé.

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