Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

How long is an elevator ride? 30 seconds? 60? What could possibly happen during the trip from top to bottom? Jason Reynolds’ Long Way Down jams an entire delightfully moody YA novel into one short journey.

Will Hollowman is just a kid, who through no fault of his own is living a life that keeps trying to knock him down. Now, his brother Shawn is gone and Will must decide whether to follow the rules of his neighbourhood, or choose a different path. A life-altering elevator ride to the ground floor is a tornado of family histories, memories, emotions, and decisions. Each time the elevator stops, someone joins Will, introducing the reader, to another shattered piece of the Hollowman family history. The tension builds and as a reader, I found myself pulled deeper into Will’s life, and wondering which path he will end up following.

The story itself is enthralling, but perhaps the most compelling part of this book is Reynolds’ choice to write in verse. The text is a curious yet effective mix of blunt, choppy grittiness, and rhythmically flowing words that to beg to be devoured. The novel is short and quick-paced, which makes it easy to read in one sitting. The pace and length also make Long Way Down an excellent book suggestion for the reluctant teen reader in your life. Some pages contain barely a paragraph of text, but still manage to pack a huge emotional punch.

A beautifully written, emotional and intense story, Long Way Down has me itching to read more of Jason Reynolds’ work, and serves as a reminder that stepping out of my reading comfort zone more often can lead to great things!

Jana O’Flaherty – http://www.tbpl.ca

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