Book Review: “Long Way Down,” By Jason Reynolds


Alondra Martinez, Staff Writer

15-year-old, Will Holloman sets out to avenge his brother’s, Shawn, murder by following the three rules of his neighborhood he has grown up with: no crying, no snitching, and seek revenge. As Will rides the elevator down to the bottom floor, he encounters a ghost from his life on each level, who all know something he doesn’t and who all have a lesson to teach Will. Through these encounters, Will has to ponder the eternal question, does he seek revenge or find a different way to mourn his brother’s death? 

Reynold’s novel is a short free-verse novel at only 336 pages long, making it a more accessible read for those who struggle with lengthy books. However, the novel itself spans over a minute and only takes place in the elevator, with Will and a small ensemble as the minute goes on.  

Long Way Down was the first book I read with a free-verse style which initially caught my appeal and it really made the book standout as one of a kind. Also, the fact that the book spans over a single minute blows my mind! Not only did it hold my attention as I frantically read the book, but it also made me put myself in Will’s shoes and try to understand the mixed emotions he might have been experiencing in that minute.  

I read Long Way Down back in October of 2022, and I still think about it now in April of 2023. Reynolds curated a short but powerful and gut-wrenching book that leaves a lasting impact on readers. Not only is the story itself a work of art, but Reynold’s writing style only enhances it.  

Although, Long Way Down deals with a heavier message, as it tackles issues involving poverty and murder. It’s an astonishing book that I’d highly recommend that everyone should read at least once in their life. 

Not only is Jason Reynolds an incredible author but the book itself is critically acclaimed from being a New York times bestseller, a National Book Award Finalist, a recipient of the John Newbery Medal and the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult. Jason Reynolds is also the author behind “All American Boys”, another remarkable novel you might be familiar with if you read it in your freshmen year English class. 

However, I believe Long Way Down might be Jason Reynold’s best novel he has published. It checks off so many requirements of mine from wonderful character development, a life-changing message, and an amazing author who knows how to pull a reader’s heart-strings. 

I previously mentioned that the novel is an accessible read due to its use of free-verse but Reynold has also published a graphic novel version of his novel with illustrations done by Danica Norvgorodoff. Not only does the graphic novel help enhance the readers comprehension but it also provides a better depiction of Will and who he is. 

I strongly recommend both options as this book is one in a million. Jason Reynolds is one of the greatest authors there is. Long Way Down is available at most major book retailers (Barnes & Nobles, Amazon), Harford County Public Libraries, and online (Kindle, Libby).