Title: Long Way Down
Author: Jason Reynolds
Genre: Teen, Poetry, Poetic Prose, Gun Violence
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
This is not a traditional story or novel. It's more of a poetic prose that explores the thoughts of a fifteen year old boy and his struggle to follow the 'rules' of his ghetto life. The difficulty being that he has morales yet believes that gun violence is 'required' (because of the rules) and thus a circle of killing is destined to continue in his family and community.
It's brilliantly set-up as an elevator ride from floor 7 down to the lobby. At each floor someone he knows or knows of is added to the elevator to comment (very poetically) on the situation that is influencing the teen to perpetuate the gun violence.
I don't want to give much away because the real impact here is not knowing how it will end or who gets on the elevator.
Without a doubt Long Way Down has the potential to become a required reading in schools; because of the style of writing, the topic of gun violence, and the commentary it makes on society and how/what we teach our children.
I give this four stars if only because I have a very hard time with gun violence stories or commentaries. I live in Canada and so gun violence (while it happens here) is not as common as stabbing incidents. And so I struggle a lot with this idea that people teach children to shoot others and take retribution. The only thing to be gained from this is more death and violence. I'm slightly concerned that Long Way Down could be misinterpreted as condoning this violence and so I can't give it 5 stars.
I actually hope that more adults read this than kids or teens. It clearly explains how teens are interpreting what they are told. That they take things literally and as parents and/or influential adults that are around children we have a responsibility to stop the violence
I believe we all (especially parents and influential adults to children) need to take some responsibility for our of the acceptance of gun violence. Long Away Down illustrates this in a distinct, quick to read and obvious way.
If nothing else I hope at least one or two kids or teens realize that shooting one another is not a solution and that violence only begets violence.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.