(15/20) Long Way Down – “20 YA Novels for Adolescents”

Long Way Down is a young adult novel in verse written by Jason Reynolds. It was published on October 24, 2017 and it consists of 306 pages. The awards and nominees for the novel are:

  • Printz Honor Book.
  • Coretta Scott King author award.
  • Newbery Honor.

Long Way Down is about the struggles of an African-American teenaged boy who wants to avenge his brother’s death. He takes his brother’s gun and he wants to kill the person who he thinks is his brother’s murderer.

I wanted to read this novel because although I have been reading a lot of novels with a similar theme of injustices and struggles of POC, this one has a unique spin that I never really read before. That unique spin being that it’s about a POC character who wants revenge. It’s a novel that really felt that it wasn’t repetitive (even though being repetitive is valid, considering that the struggles of POC and injustices is just as repetitive in our society).

What I find to be even more unique and new (to me personally) is how this novel is a novel in verse. I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel in verse with a storyline that revolves around a character on a path for vengeance. It also teaches me the various different styles in writing and inspires to me to want to attempt a similar style with my own stories.

I would read this novel as a group with my students, but I would also recommend individual reading. I think that since the story involves guns and vengeance, even though it’s more implied than depicted in nitty-gritty details, I would recommend it to sixth graders and up. Even so, I would still make sure that the students are aware of what they will be reading about.

I especially think that this novel will easily capture students’ attention because since it’s a novel in verse, the page aren’t cluttered up with words like the usual novel. Not that that should be an excuse for students to not read, a novel in verse with a unique story like this can easily grab students’ attention and hang on to it.

For read alouds, I would especially read:

  • Pg. 8, “Comparing Sadness”.

  • Pg. 10, “Shawn’s Death”.

In general, I’m really interested in movies, tv shows, novels, graphic novels, and video games that have a story about revenge. The genre isn’t new to me and I really enjoy it, but it’s the first time I’m experiencing a novel in verse with POC characters with a story about revenge. I think it’s very interesting and this novel in particular has such a unique take to it.

I want to explore more novels similar to this one with revenge plots that focus more on POC lives and struggles. This novel was a very fun read and kept me hooked to the very end.


2 thoughts on “(15/20) Long Way Down – “20 YA Novels for Adolescents”

  1. Thanks for your book review! I especially appreciated that you included poems from the novel. I was interested in reading your review because Long Way Down is on my list as well, but I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet.
    After reading your review, I’m really excited to pick it up!
    It sounds like there are some really great opportunities for an instructional approach to this novel. The idea of vengeance and “acceptable” violence is so important to discuss with our young students. It sounds like they might really relate to Long Way Down.

  2. Mazin,
    This is one of my books chosen for this course. It is an excellent read! Jason Reynold’s other books are great too! I think the ending would be perfect for unpacking in a classroom, as well as other parts of the book. Pairing this with one of his other novels would be a good unit for upper high school.

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