Long Way Down: A short, compelling read

Kyla Kamugu '21, Contributing Writer

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Long Way Down is a book that has been written by the iconic Jason Reynolds who has been known for his unconventional writing methods in communicating his point.  Reynolds is known for his other novels All American Boys and Ghost series.

The book takes place in sixty seconds and it gives the reader an experience that is not like your typical novel. It gives a new insight on what it is like to be part of a gang or to live in the hood.  It also relates to our everyday lives by covering topics about the pressure and the expectations that each of us bear. 

The main character Will is a 15 year old boy whose brother has been killed during a shoot out. All his life he has been taught the ‘rules’ which are the principles people live by in their hood and are constantly referred to in the book. It is about making choices and Reynolds doesn’t give us a typical happily-ever- after ending to the book. 

He leaves us with the knowledge that the character knows that there are choices to make. In a span of sixty seconds a life could be saved and the hood’s cycle of revenge could be broken, but the backhanded slap of that decision the character faces is looking weak.

Will is visited by the ghosts of many people in his past who have been killed as a result of gun violence and those who have killed as in accordance to ‘the rules.’ He is put in a situation and the question is if he is willing to face the consequences for his actions. 

Reynolds never makes us feel sorry for Will but he uses his dilemma to help convey his message and keep the reader on the edge of their seat while reading the book. In just one minute Will’s future would be changed forever; for better or for worse and the choice has to be made all in sixty seconds!

It is a great starter to many different, but important topics like gun violence that is on the tip of everyone’s tongue where each person has a different opinion. A conversation can be started about how easy it was for Will to access a gun.  And the way murder is talked about as an obligation is another issue that can be discussed.

The stresses of living in such a hood and the social pressures that are put on the young black kids or any other kids for that matter who are exposed to the evils of that kind of environment at such a young age is one worthy of conversation.

Long Way Down is overall a quick read that is written in poetry format, yet the reader doesn’t have to be a poet to understand it. It is short, straight to the point, and hits hard and never lets the reader catch a break while reading it. 

It is a great read for any young adults and even anyone older, because Reynolds has a diverse community of readers due to his unique gift of art.