Jason Reynolds
Long Way Down

Faber & Faber (12+)

9780571335114 (hardback)

After Will’s brother, Shawn, is shot in a gang crime, he knows the next steps. Don’t cry. Don’t snitch. Get revenge. So he gets in the lift with Shawn’s gun, determined to follow The Rules. Only when the lift doors opens, Buck walks in, Will’s friend who died years ago. And Dani, who was shot years before that. As more people from his past arrive, Will has to ask himself if he really knows what he’s doing. Will he join these ghosts of gun violence?

This beautifully crafted verse novel powerfully considers the literal and figuartive meaning of descent. Told over the course of one lift ride, there is a tangible tension that will leave readers breathless. Rhythm and rhyme are used to great effect, propelling both the reader and Will forwards. Impressive use of visceral imagery is made to brutally convey emotion and the novel’s message, whilst the physical layout of text is used to deepen the sense of Will’s isolation and grief. The open ending is both credible and hopeful, reflecting the theme of free will. This is a raw, painful and very current novel that demands to be read.


Jason Reynolds is a New York Times bestselling author, a National Book Award Honoree, a Kirkus Award winner, a Walter Dean Myers Award winner, an NAACP Image Award Winner, and the recipient of multiple Coretta Scott King honors. His debut novel was When I Was the Greatest. You can find his ramblings at JasonWritesBooks.com. Long Way Down is his first novel to be published in the UK.

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