Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds


With his starkly beautiful verse, Jason Reynolds makes the cycle of gang violence approachable and profound. The story features fifteen-year-old Will whose brother Shawn was just shot and killed. Will now has Shawn’s gun and is on his way to take revenge. But on the elevator out of the building, Will is visited by several ghosts--all the people in his past killed by gang violence.

The story is short, the writing concise, but Reynold’s story carries a powerful message that everyone needs to hear. I can’t imagine a better way to attack a painful subject for teen readers. I would recommend Long Way Down as a must for middle school curriculum. Let kids hear about this in just this way and let them talk about it.

Recommended ages--13 and up

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