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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Monday, February 6, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading? 2-6-17

It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a wonderful community of readers, teachers, and librarians. Hosted by Jen over at Teach Mentor Texts along with Kellee and Ricki at Unleashing Readers, participants share their reading adventures from the past week along with their reading plans for the week ahead.

My Monday posts are generally just a highlight of what I've been reading during the week so if you'd like to see all that I've been reading, follow my Goodreads page.

Currently reading:

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
A friend of mine at Simon & Schuster who knows how much I love Jason Reynolds sent me the bound manuscript of his newest YA novel. It's in verse  The premise is that it takes place in only a few seconds as the main character is going down an elevator on his way to shoot the guy who killed his brother. Did I mention it's in verse? It is amazing, y'all. Getting boxes of books for the Walden Award committee makes for some pretty awesome book mail, but I gotta say, this is the best book mail I've ever gotten. :)

Still reading with my ears:

Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
This has been a great book to listen to on my commute to and from work every day. I'm really enjoying the 2017 Odyssey winner.

Picture books I enjoyed last week:

Boo Who? by Ben Clanton 
Sprinkles, Gizmo, Wild, and Rex are back. This time, Rex is behaving himself and the foursome lets a new friend join their group. But Boo doesn't seem to fit in-- because, well, he's hard to see. If you loved Rex Wrecks It (and if you didn't, we can't be friends) then don't miss Boo Who? It hits bookstores in August.   

XO, Ox by Adam Rex illustrated by Scott Campbell 
Clever, funny, and adorable. Adam Rex is a longtime favorite author of mine and his recent picture books have been home runs.  

We March by Shane W. Evans  
This book is stunning. Spare in text but full of meaning and emotion.