Worth the Read? — Long Way Down, by Jason Reynolds

Welcome to “Worth the Read?” where I give you my honest opinion on whether you should spend your precious time reading a super-hyped New York Times Bestseller.

Today’s book is:
Long Way Down, by Jason Reynolds

On New York Times Best Sellers list (Young Adult Hardcover) for 10 weeks

The Hype:
Long Way Down was a 2017 National Book Award Finalist and recently won a Newbery Honor form the American Library Association’s Association for Library Services To Children. Jason Reynolds is a very highly revered author for young adults. In addition to the aforementioned achievements, he is a Printz Honoree, a Kirkus Award winner, a two time Walter Dean Myers Award winner, an NAACP Image Award Winner, and the recipient of multiple Coretta Scott King honors. So, yeah, Jason Reynolds a big deal!
Throw in the fact that gun violence has been in the news so much recently, it’s no surprise that Long Way Down is a must-read right now.

Plot Summary:
Will’s brother, Shawn, was murdered, and Will knows who did it — at least he’s pretty sure he knows who did it… According to the rules, Will must exact revenge, and that’s what he’s going to do. He finds Shawn’s gun and gets on his apartment’s elevator, ready to gun down Shawn’s killer. But when the elevator stops on the sixth floor, Shawn’s friend Buck gets on. Buck is dead. This is Buck’s ghost and he’s asking rather important questions like, “Is the gun even loaded?”
For each floor Will travels down, a new ghost joins him on the elevator and reveals more about Shawn and the streets they live on. What will Will do when he gets to the lobby?

Jason Reynolds packs so much punch in such a short book. His decision to use verse to tell the story works impeccably. The language is raw and real, but also incredibly beautiful. But it’s the concept and execution of the concept of the book that really blew my mind. A plot centered around an angry teen visited by ghosts could have been really cheesy, but Reynolds pulls it off effortlessly. Each of the ghosts is incredibly compelling and the interactions they have with Shawn are so human and real.
Every book I’ve read by Jason Reynolds has been fantastic, but I think Long Way Down is his best. The emotional heft in the spare text hit me like a mack truck (in the best possible way), and I think everyone should read this important book.

Rating: 100% worth it

Rating Key
80% – 100% – the book lives up to the hype. Go read it now!
60% – 79% – the book is good, but there’s no rush to read it
40% – 59% – the book has some degree of merit, but has flaws and probably isn’t worth your time
0% – 39% – the book stinks and isn’t worth the read


Have you read Long Way Down?  What were your thoughts? Share in the comments below!

4 responses to “Worth the Read? — Long Way Down, by Jason Reynolds”

  1. Amal Avatar

    Hey Kristen,
    I hope all is well. It was so nice to meet you on the plane ride to Denver :). How is everything going? Thank you for sharing your blog with me, I absolutely LOVE it.
    Have a good one.

    1. Kristen Avatar

      It was wonderful meeting you too, and thanks for reading the blog! I hope all your free books from Midwinter arrived ok…the box with mine looked like it had been through a trash compactor lol

  2. Allison Avatar

    This sounds amazing. I’ve been curious about Jason Reynolds. I’ll have to check it out!

    1. Kristen Avatar

      If you’re into audiobooks, this one is great! Jason Reynolds narrates and there’s just something special about hearing the exact inflections he wanted for the poems.

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