Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Long Way Down
Jason Reynolds


Will knows what he has to do when his older brother is shot dead because, in his neighborhood, the only rules are don’t cry, don’t snitch and get revenge. Less than twenty-four hours after Shawn is killed, Will sets out to take care of the guy he’s sure pulled the trigger.

But at fifteen, Will has never had to step up like this. He’s never even touched a gun. Can he do what the rules say? In a one-minute ride down the elevator of his building, Will is visited by the ghosts of friends and family who have died by gun violence, all part of a senseless cycle of lost futures. He must decide what to do when he reaches the lobby, follow the only rules he knows or break the pattern.

Reynolds tells this excellent story in verse. I listened to the audiobook, which is narrated by the author, and followed along with the print copy. Seeing the specially formatted words on the page and hearing the author’s narration was a great combination. Reynolds explains in an interview at the end of the audiobook how he wanted to narrate his story to make sure his words were emphasized in way he intended.

Long Way Down has received much deserved praise. It’s a Newberry Medal Honor Book, a Coretta Scott King Honor Book, a Printz Honor Book and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner for Young Adult Literature. It was also longlisted for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in addition to receiving numerous other awards.

Long Way Down is a short read and listen. The audio is a little more than ninety minutes, including the interview at the end in which Reynolds tells of his own loss, his experiences in detention centers and his conversations with others caught in the trap of gun violence. It’s a short and powerful story, one that the author hopes will make readers empathize with other people’s situations. I recommend it for both Young Adult and adult readers.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

13 thoughts on “Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

    1. Hi Jan – thanks for stopping by! If I had only listened to it, I would have just thought it was a narrative, because it sounded just like a story being told, not like poetic verse. But seeing the print version and the way it was formatted added another layer to understanding the story and the message. I’m glad I did both.

    1. Hi Jill! I had downloaded the audiobook from the library and was afraid I wouldn’t get to listen to it in time, so I grabbed the book just in case. Then I had both and some time today, so that’s when I listened/read! It was a very moving story. Thanks for reading.

    1. Hi Stephanie- I’m not a poetry person at all – that’s why listening to the audiobook was great. It sounded more like a story – very natural. I liked seeing the words on the page, however. It was kind of like an illustration for me. Thanks for stopping by!

  1. Sounds like a remarkable achievement! Congrats, Jason, on all the accolades you have received for this incredible book. Thank you, Barbara, for sharing this talented author and his book with us.

    1. Hi Sarah – yes I really liked it and it doesn’t seem like verse if you listen to the audio. I was glad I did both. Thanks for the visit – I hope you are doing well. Keep that fiction coming!

      1. I’m so glad you got both, too. It was nice reading your experience. I’ll be reading so I’m interested to see what that’s like.

        (Thank you. 🙂 Hope to have at least one book/collection out this year.)

      2. That’s great, Sarah. I actually thought of you when I was reading Long Way Down because of the format. Jason Reynolds did a great job because the verse was so well done, it felt like a story. Thanks for the visit.

Tell me what you're thinking!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s