Long Way Down by Jason ReynoldsLong Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Long Way Down

byJason Reynolds

Hardcover | October 24, 2017

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A Newbery Honor Book
A Coretta Scott King Honor Book
A Printz Honor Book
A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Winner for Young Adult Literature
Longlisted for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature
Winner of the Walter Dean Myers Award
An Edgar Award Winner for Best Young Adult Fiction
Parents’ Choice Gold Award Winner
An Entertainment Weekly Best YA Book of 2017
A Vulture Best YA Book of 2017
A Buzzfeed Best YA Book of 2017

An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.

Told in short, fierce staccato narrative verse, Long Way Down is a fast and furious, dazzlingly brilliant look at teenage gun violence, as could only be told by Jason Reynolds.
Jason Reynolds is the author of When I Was the Greatest, for which he won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent. His debut middle grade book, As Brave As You, was awarded the 2016 Kirkus Prize for young readers'. His other works include Boy in the Black Suit, and All American Boys.
Title:Long Way DownFormat:HardcoverProduct dimensions:320 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1.1 inShipping dimensions:8.25 × 5.5 × 1.1 inPublished:October 24, 2017Publisher:Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1481438255

ISBN - 13:9781481438254

Appropriate for ages: 12


Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favorite books I read this in one afternoon. Simply couldn't put it down. Told in verse, it's very easy to read and it doesn't take away the depth of story.
Date published: 2019-06-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Prose without being Annoying I received this book as an arc at BookExpo 2017 and had the pleasure of meeting Jason Reynolds himself at the event - this in no way influenced my reading experience. My initial reaction after waiting on line for an hour and receiving the arc was "UGGGGGGH PROSE?!" However, I had previously enjoyed Reynold's All American Boys - so I took the hour or so upon returning home to read this book. It is phenomenal, and I would liken it to a modern day version of Dicken's A Christmas Story - Will is visited by ghosts on each floor of his trip downstairs to begin a vendetta. It is an incredibly emotional story, considering its brevity and I cannot recommend it enough.
Date published: 2018-10-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AMAZING This is a new favourite book of mine. It had me so emotional throughout the whole book. I LOVED IT SO MUCH
Date published: 2018-08-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Powerful! Written more like poetry than prose, it is a powerful book, telling the story of loss, grief, struggle, and finding one's place and truth in the world. It is a story of self-determination that sucked me right into it; the writing helps it to flow along and the voice of the main character is definitely engaging. 5/5! Definitely worth the read!
Date published: 2018-08-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Powerful! Written more like poetry than prose, it is a powerful book, telling the story of loss, grief, struggle, and finding one's place and truth in the world. It is a story of self-determination that sucked me right into it; the writing helps it to flow along and the voice of the main character is definitely engaging. 5/5! Definitely worth the read!
Date published: 2018-08-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Long Way Down - Looks like: hellevator - Sounds like: a voice thick with emotion - Tastes like: devasting truths - Smells like: acrid smoke - Feels like: punch to the heart Side note: the format of this story is more like poetry than prose. It took me a moment to adjust but once I found my rhythm, it pulled me all the way down with it.
Date published: 2018-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Had to read it again! Wow! This book is so good. It’s such a quick, absorbing read and as soon as I finished, I had to go back and read through it again. I am usually not a fan of novels written in verse, but I had heard that this book is so great, and I knew that I just had to check it out. And it turns out that I loved the format of Long Way Down. And that ending…it’s a real gut punch. I was not ready for it! I definitely recommend Long Way Down. Once you start reading, you won’t be able to put it down.
Date published: 2018-01-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ok A friend recommended this to me, and it was wonderful!
Date published: 2018-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful and lyrical This is my second Jason Reynolds book. He never disappoints, the writing was on point, beautiful and lyrical. I felt like I was in the elevator with Will.
Date published: 2017-11-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Game Changer This was not a book. It was an experience. And the experience swallowed me whole. Reynolds proves a true master of what literary style and form can do. Written entirely in narrative verse, I can understand how the style would be daunting for some readers. I too am not usually a fan of verse novels, but for this particular novels, the form really works and adds to the impact of the book. On the back flap of this book, it reads “Jason Reynolds is also tired. Of being around young people who are tired of feeling invisible. So he writes books (a bunch of books) and has even won some awards, but none of them are as important as a young person saying they feel seen.” I did not recognize anything of myself in this book. And that’s a good thing; even in the face of Reynolds’ literary genius, it is the best thing about this book. There is a surfeit of books about people I can recognize myself in, and it’s well past time for books that reflect people I cannot, books that make me, and people like me, and people who are privileged in other ways, think and wonder what it must truly be like for people who are different from us, who do not have the same privilege that we do. No matter how woke you consider yourself to be, the beauty of Reynolds’ words and prose will force you to take your own privilege out and examine it, only to reveal where the gaps in your lack of prejudice lie. We should not be trying to “unsee” race, for that would forfeit the beauty that comes with diversity. We should be making sure everyone sees race as a diversity that unites us, instead of a wall that separates us. It’s a long way down and we have a long way to go. This is a good step. I will be haunted by these words; I hope the ghosts give me the strength to keep doing better. #indigoemployee
Date published: 2017-11-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Book! This is such an amazing book. It’s an incredibly moving story. It reminded me of other popular books right now, where the main character has to deal with the aftermath of his brother being shot and killed. The story is written in verse, which is unique. It made the book a quick read. Some of the phrases were just so beautiful and moving. I loved the lyrical style of writing. This is a story about the never ending cycle of revenge. When does it end? The ending gave me chills. It was so good! I highly recommend this moving story! I received a copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for a review.
Date published: 2017-10-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What a read! Long Way Down is the first book by Jason Reynolds that I have read, even though I heard about All American Boys before. This novel is written in verse and is saturated with grief, anger, and pain. I read it in one sitting - and this is how you are supposed to read it, in my opinion - because I couldn’t put it down. It was a very raw and emotional read that was making me more and more uncomfortable and horrified. ALERT: Do not read the full synopsis on NetGalley or GoodReads as it will spoil you the whole thing. And it is too wonderful to be spoiled. I didn’t read past that first paragraph and found the prose to be very profound. This book is a cry for help; an angry shout-out. It talks about gun violence, gang violence, poverty, loss, grief. The narrative is both heartbreaking and brutal. It strong enough to leave the mark. It sure did leave the mark on me. It is a hard to describe because it has to be experienced. Read it. And weep. Because this shouldn’t be our reality in this day and age.
Date published: 2017-10-10

Read from the Book

Long Way Down


believe nothing

these days

which is why I haven’t

told nobody the story

I’m about to tell you.

And truth is,

you probably ain’t

gon’ believe it either

gon’ think I’m lying

or I’m losing it,

but I’m telling you,

this story is true.

It happened to me.


It did.

It so did.

Editorial Reviews

In this free-verse novel, it’s been fewer than two days since narrator Will witnessed the shooting death of his older brother, Shawn. Now, according to the “rules” passed from father to son, brother to brother, revenge is the next order of business, and Carlon Riggs, a member of the Dark Suns gang, is in Will’s crosshairs. Taking the gun jammed into Shawn’s dresser, Will heads to the elevator on the seventh floor of his apartment building and presses the “L” button (which he and Shawn used to pretend stood for “loser” rather than “lobby”) at 9:08:02 am. Before he reaches the lobby at 9:09:09, six ghosts will enter the elevator—victims, perpetrators, or both, entangled in a chain of murder, misidentification, and revenge that led to Shawn’s death; together they challenge Will’s perspective on the killing and on his role in vigilante justice. The ghosts all know one another as confederates in death, and all history that might have once made them enemies is now overshadowed by their detachment from mortal issues; they can share cigarettes and a mildly sardonic view of the absurdity of their collective backstory. The spirits, particularly Will’s uncle, father, and brother, have Will’s interest at heart; they won’t tell Will what to do, but they break through his anger and pride and point him to a place where he can allow himself to grieve and reconsider. Will’s voice emerges through free-verse poems that are arresting in their imagery and convincing in their conversational cadence. Gripping and lightning fast, this will be a strong recommendation for discussion, particularly within groups of varied reading interests and abilities.