• Sarah Leonard

"Long Way Down" Book Review

Updated: Jun 25, 2019

Author: Jason Reynolds

Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 5/5

Dust Cover:

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.


Jason Reynolds brings true artistry to his book Long Way Down. The novel tells the incredible story of a man’s struggle with whether he can get himself to kill his brother’s murderer. The majority of the novel takes place on the elevator ride down, delving into his internal fears and conflictions. It’s incredibly well written and a really quick read, so this review won’t be as long as others. Aww, boooo. I know, I know. I hate to disappoint you all.

The book is so creative, so I really want to mainly discuss that. The prose is designed in a way that compliments the novel so well. It reads like epic poetry, written in a way that is like an elevator going down. This style is not only intriguing, but it perfectly highlights the anxiety the main character feels.

That anxiety is further revealed through the other characters presented. We don’t get to know them for too long. Yet, we know them so well in that time. Reynolds is absolutely amazing at character building. And with our main character, we see emotion on every page. His anxiety and fear progress so well. For as short as this book is, we see such a development with the main character. All it takes is one elevator ride.

This book really does go very quickly. I planned to read only some before going to bed. I finished the whole thing in about two hours. It’s really nice to have a quick read that is so engaging. It’s not too big of a commitment or time constraint. I read it without feeling overwhelmed about taking time out of my day. I would totally reread this book.

The book is paced very well. Not reading it in one sitting would kind of be unjust to that pacing. It would add a halt in a story that shouldn’t have any halts. It’s definitely meant to have a quick, constant flow, in my opinion.

However, if you do want to take a break and not finish it all at once, you can’t rely on chapter breaks to do it. The book is broken up by elevator floors, which is very clever. It fits the story perfectly. Every element of this book compliments the plot and flow. There are even anagrams inserted here and there that connect to the current moments while adding a pause to the text when needed.

You HAVE to read this book. It’s easy, engaging, so well-crafted, and INCREDIBLY unique. I definitely have favorite lines, but I want you to experience the formatting of this book for the first time yourself. Let me know what you think of it when you finish! Till next time, Nooksters!

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