Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Sunday, April 22, 2018

A Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

How I Heard About It:  You would have to be living under a rock to not have heard of Jason Reynolds.  I have been reading his books over the last couple of years.  Each one brought me enjoyable and a lot of learning.  After reading and hearing RAVE reviews of this young-adult novel, I purchased it.  The book sat on my bedside table for a bit of time.  Once I started, I couldn't put it down.  

What It Is About:   Will is a teenage boy who has lost his brother to a shooting.  Will is hurt, angry, and sad.  Will knows the "rules" of the neighborhood.  You don't show your feelings, but you get even.  Will decides to get even for Shawn's death.  He grabs his older brother's gun, and enters the apartment elevator.  Will lives on the 7th floor and needs to get himself to the ground level.  The entire story takes place as Will makes his way down in the elevator to the street level to find the guilty party.  As the elevator stops at each floor, a variety of people enter.  These "people" all have had connections to both Shawn and Will.  Are they real?  Are they ghosts?  Are they memories?  That is what Will must figure out before it is too late.  

What I Thought Of It:  I'm always eager to read something new by Jason Reynolds.  I recently saw him speak right here in the Twin Cities, and he is bigger than life.  His written message is wrong, but his spoken message is even more powerful.  There was so much to this story.  It is definitely a book that I will be rereading because of the deep and meaningful messages strewn throughout the pages.  The words are sparse on each page, but boy the content, theme, and lesson are incredibly strong.  I could feel the tension and frustration that Will felt.  That elevator ride was not only stressful on the character, but the reader as well.  

Who Should Read It:  Long Way Down is an extremely important story and I think it should be required reading for high school and/or college readers.  Of course adult readers will also come away with a whole new perspective on this world we are living in.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  4 STARS out of 5 Stars

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