Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
When Will’s brother is shot and killed by a former friend it’s up to Will to follow the rules. With a gun tucked into his waistband he knows what he has to do: seek revenge on the dude who took his brother’s life. It’s a vicious cycle, but one that Will knows has to be followed.
As he steps into the elevator seventh floor of his apartment building, Will is visited by several people from his past. From friends to family members, these are all people who know the truth. They’re all people who have died by the same rules that they once lived by. Bit by bit, floor by floor Will comes to understand the story of his brother’s untimely death, and how each of those people who went before his are connected to it.
But on this long way down, will they help figure out what he’s supposed to do?
Long Way Down is a novel in verse written by author Jason Reynolds. And if you are familiar with his body of work you will know, that just like the books that came before, it is realistic, raw, and often gritty.
As a reader, I appreciated this books realness, the rawness, and the grittiness. But Long Way Down, for me, left something to be desires. While I feel that his writing is strong, I have to say that there was something about this book that stopped me from enjoying it fully.
Main character Will is a unique one, and while I appreciate that, I feel that he wasn’t entirely as fleshed out as he could have been. Because of this I felt as if I couldn’t get to know him. To say Long Way Down isn’t a character driven book would be an understatement.
Long Way Down was filled with a cast of characters that were difficult for me as a reader to relate to. They felt very removed. But with that said, I truly appreciated the many viewpoints I received as a reader, proving that there are many sides to one story. Because of this, it gave the book a layer of depth I wasn’t expecting. I liked how each character was a part of Will’s past, and how they ultimately affected his future.
I liked the characters, so much so that they were the main reasons that I kept reading this book. Beyond the characters I genuinely liked the story line of this book: a boy struggling to come to terms with the death of his beloved brother, and the realization that it may be his turn to step up to the plate to play by the rules. The struggle that Will faces is real, so much so it’s palpable.
But even though I liked the main story line, I didn’t love the format. For me personally, it just didn’t work. As I was reading, it often felt choppy, and not completely whole. More than that, I felt that the story had no real resolution by the book’s close, and that really bothered me.
Long Way Down sadly missed the mark for me. Which, if I’m being completely honest was a real disappointment because I had such high hopes for this one. I’m disappointed in the book, but I am not disappointed I read it. But I do feel that even though it wasn’t a favorite of mine that you should check it out. Maybe your experience and the takeaways will be different for you. Read it, and let me know what you thought of this book. I’d love to know and discuss it further.
(Cover image from GoodReads)