Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Advance Review: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

When Will's brother Shawn is killed, Will knows that he must avenge his brother's death. So he grabs the gun out of Shawn's dresser drawer, gets on the elevator to leave his apartment building, and over the course of the next six floors and 60 seconds, Will is stunned by who gets on the elevator with him at each floor.

The fact that this novel takes place over a single minute AND is a novel in verse is both innovative and gusty. Major props to you, Mr. Reynolds. However, I'm sure there will no doubt be people who read this book and spend their time overanalyzing the time frame,  saying, "This couldn't possibly have happened over a single minute." I was certainly temped to do that very thing. And who knows? Maybe those overanalyzers are right. But here's why I chose not to overthink Reynolds's stylistic choice: If I did, I'd be missing the point. The point is that Will has only six floors convince himself that he's doing the right thing by following "The Rules" of his family and neighborhood. In a single minute, he is on his way to enacting vigilante justice for his brother and possibly ruining his own future. This complex moral crisis is not the time to nitpick on timelines. It's a literary convention. As readers, let's just appreciate how it helps move the story forward.

I was elated that a friend of mine who works for Simon & Schuster and knows what a huge Jason Reynolds fan I am sent me the bound manuscript of his newest YA novel. I can't go too long without getting my Jason Reynolds fix, you see. But here is the downside of getting to read such an early copy of the book: I HAVE NO ONE TO TALK TO ABOUT IT! And I need to talk to someone. What the heck happened at the end?! I guess I'll just have to wait until someone else reads it before a consensus can be reached (or perhaps a spirited disagreement. Who knows?)

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Expected Publication: October 17, 2017
Publisher: Atheneum
Pages: 240
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel in Verse
Audience: Young Adult
Disclosure: Bound manuscript provided by publisher

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