Long Way Down

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Jason Reynolds
Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
Aug 15, 2022

Long Way Down (Young Adult Fiction), by Jason Reynolds

William Holloman’s world is shattered when his brother, Shawn, is shot dead in their
neighborhood. In Will’s world, nothing is forever. But Shawn had always been there. Now, he’s
gone. But, over the years, two things have become clear to Will. First, no matter what, you
always keep moving. Second, no matter what, you always, always stick to The Rules. Now, Will
is finally ready for Rule No. 3: Revenge. For his mother, for himself, and for Shawn, Will has to
avenge Shawn. He knows the culprit: Carlson Riggs. He has the weapon: Shawn’s gun, sitting in
the ever-present, conspicuous middle drawer of Shawn’s dresser. Without a moment’s hesitation,
he grabs the gun, tucks it into his waistband, and gets on board the elevator. But as the elevator
moves down, the ghosts of Will’s past start to emerge. Each of them have a connection to Will, a
connection to Shawn, a connection to the earth-shattering incident, and a connection to the
neighborhood that made it all happen. As each of these ghosts boards the elevator, Will is forced
reevalute everything: Shawn’s death, his own trajectory, his neighborhood, and despite
everything he knows, The Rules. As the elevator descends to the lobby, Will has to consider
everything before he makes a life-or-death decision. Will he follow The Rules? Will he kill
Carlson Riggs and avenge Shawn? Will he ever escape the cycle that he has always been trapped
in? Read Long Way Down, by Jason Reynolds, to find out!

I really enjoyed that this book was written in verse. I personally don’t have a lot of experience
when it comes to reading books that are written in verse, so this was a nice way to branch out
and try a different writing style. To that end, I would definitely recommend that readers looking
to begin reading books written in verse start with Long Way Down. I feel this way because Jason
Reynolds explains in his acknowledgements that he had not originally written this book with the
idea of publishing it in verse in mind. This was only suggested after his editor took a look at it.
So, this book represents a good ‘bridge’ book between a typical writing style and writing in
verse. I think that writing this book in verse really helps the reader get a better understanding of
Will’s thoughts and feelings. That is especially important for any book that is written from the
first-person perspective. Writing in a typical style would have required Reynolds to be more
‘formal’, and that would have taken away from the reader’s understanding of Will’s character.
The way the book is written resonates with readers because that is a style that is representative of
how people think. Each verse almost represents a new thought, which makes the insights we get
into Will’s character feel vivid and realistic. Next, regarding the plot specifically, I think that
Reynolds’ using the ghosts to help Will see the true problem at hand is a great move. It helps the
reader see Will explore his past in order to answer questions about his future. Each new character
forces both Will and the reader to reevaluate how they think about the situation. I also enjoyed
how Reynolds left the story on a cliffhanger, forcing the reader to think about everything they
learned about revenge, family, and the often overwhelming antagonism of Will’s world to come
to a conclusion about what Will did once he got off of the elevator. Overall, the effectiveness of
the writing style and the usage of the plot to get the reader thinking about the book’s theme
results in a rating of 4.

Written by
Varun R.

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