Long Way Down

Long Way Down

Book - 2017
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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.
Publisher: New York : Atheneum, ©2017.
ISBN: 9781481438254
Characteristics: 306 pages ;,22 cm


From Library Staff

The ghosts of gun violence visit a young teen - all during a single elevator ride.

From the critics

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Aug 03, 2020

Love the counting down as the elevator lowers for each chapter. Don't let the poetry intimidate you. Read it anyway. Powerful ending. This would make a great "add another chapter for the end" writing activity, as it could go so many ways.

Aug 02, 2020

Long Way Down is a serious book encountering a lot of subject matter such as gang violence, racism, pain, and more. The book follows Will, a fifteen year old boy suffering from the murder of his own brother. It encaptures the life of Will as he slowly goes down the elevator from his apartment complex, towards the murderer of his brother, in the hopes of shooting him with a gun he hid in his shirt. However, Will soon finds that the elevator stops on every level, starting from 7 and ending at the ground floor. With each stop comes someone involved with Sean's past, ultimately explaining to him some of Sean's past experiences, mistakes, troubles, and more. After finally learning more about his brother's past, he begins to slowly question whether or not shooting the murderer is a good decision, as he gets closer, and closer, to the murderer of his brother Sean. A life-altering decision that could ultimately change his fate, and future.
Long Way Down was definitely a very different read. The pages are written in verse, making the text very impactful yet very short. It's very easy to finish this book in under 2 hours just because of how little text is included, even considering the page count.
It definitely was a very disappointing read. I had very high expectations because of the amount of hype it got from a lot of the readers. It was a favourite among many, but I definitely had a drastically different opinion. I expected it to be groundbreaking, different, and amazing, but it was just average, and mediocre. The ending was open ended, which I really disliked. There weren't any answers to a lot of the questions I had, which really irritated me, especially since the book heavily revolved around Will's decision towards handling the murderer. It wasn't bad as a book but wasn't extraordinary. It definitely could've been better if the ending wasn't open, or if the pages had more text. It was definitely too fast paced in order for me to get attached to any of the characters. Other than that, I found the book to be alright.

Jul 26, 2020

Jason Reynolds nails it. Know someone who thinks reading is boring? This book isn’t. Know someone who thinks poems are for old people? Not this one. Know someone who thinks grownups don’t know anything about the real world? Not this grown-up. Jason Reynolds’ writing changes opinions, minds...and hearts. Spread the word.

JCLHebahA Jun 11, 2020

After hearing Jason Reynolds speak at a virtual librarian event, I had to check out his writing. This was raw, powerful, and empathetic, the immediacy of verse pairing well with the tight quarters of a potentially life-altering elevator ride. Phenomenal in audio (read by the author himself) and followed up with an equally powerful interview.

Apr 01, 2020

I never cried over books. Once I read it it's over. It doesn't stay long in my heart in mind. But this time it was different. The story made me curious. The moment I started reading, I couldn't stop. The book was just like a part of me. It made me cry, it made me feel the pain of the main character. I am impressed. I adore it. I recommend it. A book similar to this one is All American Boys.

IndyPL_JessicaNS Mar 19, 2020

A powerful story told in verse about a boy named Will, who has to decide if he will follow the rules that have been set for him or not. Recommended for ages 13+.

I enjoyed this story because I love poetry, but also because I couldn't wait to see what would happen as the elevator stopped on each floor. It's a tough read, one filled with gun violence, gang rivalries, and poverty, but that shouldn't stop kids (or adults) from reading it. Even if your life doesn't look like Will's, this short read will give you a window to see what it would be like if it was.

Mar 09, 2020

Immediately following the murder of his older brother and assuming the responsibility of retribution, Will grabs Shawn's gun and boards the elevator in their building, heading down. Told in verse both honest and arresting, in this narrative Will discovers that a lot can happen in the space of the one short minute it takes for the car to reach the ground floor. I simultaneously read/listened to this book as part of the 2020 Read Harder Challenge, fulfilling the category "an audiobook of poetry." Recommended.

Jan 07, 2020

Objectively good, but not my cup of tea. I'm just not a poetry person.

There was a shooting. In an area where they are not uncommon. This book explores the inner monologue of a character very close to the shooting in the immediate aftermath of that event and, in doing so, does an excellent job of exploring the culture of the neighbourhood.

I don't want to say a lot more than that because I don't want to spoil the story. It was worth reading, and I do recommend it to anyone who enjoys verse.

FPL_JenB Nov 11, 2019

This book is a work of art. Read it, savor it, let it take you to another world- all in the space of an elevator ride. Jason Reynolds is a special author. I would say the voice of a generation. Listen to him.

Oct 21, 2019

This book was so moving! It is very eye opening and the prose is beautiful. Brings to mind the pressing current issues while also telling a compelling story in heart wrenching verse.

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May 25, 2020

blue_cheetah_13191 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Jun 18, 2019

TheBookTheif thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Feb 05, 2019

blue_dog_31717 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

Nov 03, 2018

amma13888 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

OPL_KrisC Apr 06, 2018

OPL_KrisC thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


Add a Quote
Jun 18, 2019

it's weird to know
a person you don't know

and at the same time

not know
a person you know,

you know?”

Jun 18, 2019


is when you take a word and rearrange the letters to make another word. And sometimes the words are still somehow connected ex: CANOE = OCEAN. Same letters, different words, somehow still make sense together, like brothers.”

Jun 18, 2019



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