Long Way Down

by Jason Reynolds

Will learned “The Rules” from his older brother, Shawn. No. 1: No crying.... read more

Will learned “The Rules” from his older brother, Shawn. No. 1: No crying. No. 2: No snitching. No. 3: Get revenge. When Shawn is shot and killed, Will’s grief is trapped behind a wall of unshed tears. He’s sure he knows who did it: Riggs. And of course he won’t tell the police. Using the gun Shawn kept in his middle drawer, the gun he was never supposed to touch, Will leaves his 8th floor apartment the morning after Shawn’s death. He gets on the elevator at 9:08:02 a.m. Over the next 67 seconds and 234 pages of this taut, tightly paced novel in verse, different rules are broken: the rule in which no one talks on the elevator; and rules of life and death, space and time. On every floor, as Will descends, someone impossible gets on. Will knows each one of them, and their conversations—with him, with one another—explore the strange, unreliable honor of The Rules and reveal the cycle of violence they perpetuate. And now it’s Will’s turn to put The Rules into play, to shoot Riggs for killing Shawn. Isn’t it? The final two words of this novel are explosive, inviting discussion about what comes next, but it’s the entirety of Will’s reality-bending, expansive 67-second descent that makes it possible to wonder. (Age 12 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2018

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