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Long way down
2017
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Driven by the secrets and vengeance that mark his street culture, 15-year-old Will contemplates over the course of 60 psychologically suspenseful seconds whether or not he is going to murder the person who killed his brother. By the National Book Award finalist author of When I Was the Greatest. Simultaneous eBook. - (Baker & Taylor)

As Will, fifteen, sets out to avenge his brother Shawn's fatal shooting, seven ghosts who knew Shawn board the elevator and reveal truths Will needs to know. - (Baker & Taylor)

A Newbery Honor Book
A Coretta Scott King Honor Book
A Printz Honor Book
A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Winner for Young Adult Literature
Longlisted for the National Book Award for Young People&;s Literature
Winner of the Walter Dean Myers Award
An Edgar Award Winner for Best Young Adult Fiction
Parents&; Choice Gold Award Winner
An Entertainment Weekly Best YA Book of 2017
A Vulture Best YA Book of 2017
A Buzzfeed Best YA Book of 2017

An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds&;s fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds&;the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he&;s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That&;s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That&;s where Will&;s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother&;s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he&;s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that&;s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn&;s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn&;t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck&;s in the elevator? Just as Will&;s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck&;s cigarette. Will doesn&;t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END&;if WILL gets off that elevator.

Told in short, fierce staccato narrative verse, Long Way Down is a fast and furious, dazzlingly brilliant look at teenage gun violence, as could only be told by Jason Reynolds. - (Simon and Schuster)

Author Biography

Jason Reynolds is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, a Newbery Award Honoree, a Printz Award Honoree, a two-time National Book Award finalist, a Kirkus Award winner, a two-time Walter Dean Myers Award winner, an NAACP Image Award Winner, and the recipient of multiple Coretta Scott King honors. Reynolds is also the 2020&;2021 National Ambassador for Young People&;s Literature. His many books include When I Was the Greatest, The Boy in the Black Suit, All American Boys (cowritten with Brendan Kiely), As Brave as You, For Every One, the Track series (Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu), Look Both Ways, and Long Way Down, which received a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, and a Coretta Scott King Honor. He lives in Washington, DC. You can find his ramblings at JasonWritesBooks.com. - (Simon and Schuster)

First Chapter or Excerpt
Long Way Down

DON&;T NOBODY


believe nothing

these days

which is why I haven&;t

told nobody the story

I&;m about to tell you.

And truth is,

you probably ain&;t

gon&; believe it either

gon&; think I&;m lying

or I&;m losing it,

but I&;m telling you,

this story is true.

It happened to me.

Really.

It did.

It so did.

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Trade Reviews

Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Spanning a mere one minute and seven seconds, Reynolds' new free-verse novel is an intense snapshot of the chain reaction caused by pulling a trigger. First, 15-year-old Will Holloman sets the scene by relating his brother Shawn's murder two days prior—gunned down while buying soap for their mother. Next, he lays out The Rules: don't cry, don't snitch, always get revenge. Now that the reader is up to speed, Will tucks Shawn's gun into his waistband and steps into an elevator, steeled to execute rule number three and shoot his brother's killer. Yet, the simple seven-floor descent becomes a revelatory trip. At each floor, the doors open to admit someone killed by the same cycle of violence that Will's about to enter. He's properly freaked out, but as the seconds tick by and floors count down, each new occupant drops some knowledge and pushes Will to examine his plans for that gun. Reynolds' concise verses echo like shots against the white space of the page, their impact resounding. He peels back the individual stories that led to this moment in the elevator and exposes a culture inured to violence because poverty, gang life, or injustice has left them with no other option. In this all-too-real portrait of survival, Reynolds goes toe-to-toe with where, or even if, love and choice are allowed to exist. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A noisy buzz always surrounds this critically acclaimed author's work, and the planned tour and promo campaign will boost this book's to a siren call. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews

Fifteen-year-old Will locates his brother's gun to avenge his death in this intense verse novel. On each floor of the descending elevator from his family's eighth floor apartment, Will is joined by yet another victim or perpetrator in the chain of violence that took his brother's life. The poetry in this high-stakes moral thriller is stark, fluently using line breaks and page turns for dramatic effect. Copyright 2017 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews

Fifteen-year-old Will, immobilized with grief when his older brother Shawn is shot and killed, slowly comes to mull The Rules in his head. There are three: don't cry, don't snitch, and "if someone you love / gets killed, / find the person / who killed / them and / kill them." So Will locates Shawn's gun, leaves his family's eighth-floor apartment, and--well, here is where this intense verse novel becomes a gripping drama, as on each floor of the descending elevator Will is joined by yet another victim or perpetrator in the chain of violence that took his brother's life. Shawn's best friend Buck gets into the elevator on seven; Dani, Will's friend from childhood, gets in on six; Will and Shawn's uncle Mark gets in on five, in a cloud of cigarette smoke. And so it goes, each stop of the elevator adding to the chorus of ghosts (including Will and Shawn's father), each one with his or her perspective on The Rules. The poetry is stark, fluently using line breaks and page-turns for dramatic effect; the last of these reveals the best closing line of a novel this season. Read alone (though best aloud), the novel is a high-stakes moral thriller; it's also a perfect if daring choice for readers' theater. roger Sutton Copyright 2017 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Will, 15, is following his neighborhood's well-established rules—don't cry, don't snitch, but do get revenge "if someone you love/ gets killed"—when he leaves his apartment, intent on killing whoever murdered his older brother, Shawn. He's emboldened by the gun tucked into his waistband: "I put my hand behind my back/ felt the imprint/ of the piece, like/ another piece/ of me/ an extra vertebra,/ some more/ backbone." As Will makes his way to the ground floor of his building, the elevator stops to accept passengers, each an important figure from his past, all victims of gun violence. Are these ghosts? Or is it Will's subconscious at work, forcing him to think about what he intends to do and what it will accomplish? The story unfolds in the time it takes for the elevator to descend, and it ends with a two-word question that hits like a punch to the gut. Written entirely in spare verse, this is a tour de force from a writer who continues to demonstrate his skill as an exceptionally perceptive chronicler of what it means to be a black teen in America. Ages 12–up. Agent: Elena Giovinazzo, Pippin Properties. (Oct.)

Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 8 Up—Fifteen-year-old Will's big brother has been shot and killed. According to the rules that Will has been taught, it is now his job to kill the person responsible. He easily finds his brother's gun and gets on the elevator to head down from his eighth-floor apartment. But it's a long way down to the ground floor. At each floor, a different person gets on to tell a story. Each of these people is already dead. As they relate their tales, readers learn about the cycle of violence in which Will is caught up. The protagonist faces a difficult choice, one that is a reality for many young people. Teens are left with an unresolved ending that goes beyond the simple question of whether Will will seek revenge. Told in verse, this title is fabulistic in its simplicity and begs to be discussed. Its hook makes for an excellent booktalk. It will pair well with Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give and Reynolds's previous works. The unique narrative structure also makes it an excellent read-alike for Walter Dean Myers's Monster. VERDICT This powerful work is an important addition to any collection.—Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal.

Voice of Youth Advocates Reviews

As Will and his friend, Tony, talk together on the street, shots ring out. They hit the pavement, heads down until the gunfire stops. They have been trained to deal with street violence and know how to protect themselves. When they come up for air, they find one body—that of Will's older brother, Shawn. Shawn's girlfriend screams; his mother moans and sways over the body. Shawn was returning from the corner store with special soap for his mom's eczema—such an ordinary task turned into murder, blood all over the sidewalk. Will knows the street rules and later, he plans his revenge, taking Shawn's hand gun from his dresser drawer and heading down the elevator. He has no idea the people he will meet from each floor as he goes down. This verse novel is tough and raw; the language of the streets echoes off the page with the heartbeats of people who are caught in an endless spiral of violence and revenge. At each floor, the elevator stops and Will is confronted by a ghost—someone who lost his life—in this tale of revenge. This is the history of the bullet that finally killed Shawn. The author skillfully traces the misery that revenge wields in a community, how murder only leads to more murder, more heartbreak, more sorrow. Street rules lead to more violence. It is an odd juxtaposition—verse and violence—but the author makes it work and will leave readers breathless by the end. Buy this one for young adult collections. It speaks a language everyone can understand.—Nancy K. Wallace. 4Q 4P J S Copyright 2018 Voya Reviews.

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