This remarkable novel — told in verse — is like a mashup of A Christmas Carol and Boyz N the Hood, a gripping story of the things that haunt us, the weight of doing what’s right, and how a whole life can change in an instant.
Will is 15 years old, and his beloved brother Shawn was just murdered. Will knows the rules all too well: No crying. No snitching. Get revenge. So he tucks a gun into his waistband, leaves his seventh-floor apartment to get on the elevator, and rallies his resignation to what’s about to happen.
But ‘what’s about to happen’ is not anything he could have anticipated. On the one-minute ride to the ground floor, he’s joined by ghosts who talk to him about what’s come before and what might come next.
Author Jason Reynolds was a poet before he was a novelist, and his words are a direct hit to the solar plexus. Fierce, vibrant, and with an undeniable forward momentum, this is an entertaining — and sobering — examination of teenage gun violence and the challenges of being a kid in this world, at this time.
The verse leaps off the page and into your heart, and/but we loved the audiobook narrated by the author. We recommend listening to the audiobook while you read along for a fully immersive, multimedia experience.
I FELT LIKE CRYING
which felt like another person
trapped behind my face
tiny fists punching the backs of my eyes
feet kicking my throat at the spot where the swallow starts.
Stay put, I whispered to him,
Stay strong, I whispered to me.
Because crying is against
The Rules. — Jason Reynolds
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