Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Long Way Down

how awesome is that cover?
I read a lot of nonfiction.  And I love it.  I'm a total geek so I love to learn from nonfiction and see what I can apply to my life. 

I'm also a librarian at a middle school so I process all the books coming into the library.  I also follow authors on Twitter so I can keep up with trends and new releases.  So, I've known about Jason Reynolds for a few months now.  When I first started following him on Twitter, I loved (and still love) that his bio says he loves his mama.  Then I saw his interview with Trevor Noah for the Daily Show and I loved him even more. 

He read his first novel at age 17 and has become a very prolific writer.  He writes for middle school kids and high school kids.  At the middle school we have his track series - Ghost, Patina, and Sunny.  These book tell the stories of kids on an elite track team. 

When I saw that our high school got Long Way Down, I took it home to read it for myself. 

Wow! Can I just say Wow!?

First of all, the book is written in verse.  Free verse.  It doesn't rhyme.  But it flows.  It flows beautifully.  And it flows quickly.  I read it one day.  Two sittings just because I left to go to the musicals. 

Long Way Down tells the story of Will, who's brother Shawn has been killed the day before.  Will follows "the rules" and decides that he needs to take care of the person he thinks killed his brother. He gets the elevator and gets another shock all together. The long elevator ride mirrors the long trail of violence that has led to this moment.  Will meets people he's known and loved who are a part of this string of violence.  Will must confront the question: will he perpetuate the violence?

Long Way Down has won a number of awards. 

The biggest award in my book is that I recommended it to my 14 year old.  And he read it in 1 day as well.  And we got to discuss it.  He even noticed that the author bio on the back flap is also written in free verse.  My momma-librarian heart fluttered.

And I did learn. I learned about a boy who is grappling with himself in the face of violence.  I'm a white 40-something woman in a suburban bubble.  I need to learn abut people outside of my bubble.  So do my boys and so do my students.  The more we learn about other people, the more empathic we can be.  Empathy leads to understanding.  And maybe the gap closes a little more.  

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