Determine the Right and Righteous Path with the Verse Novel 'Long Way Down'

Determine the Right and Righteous Path with the Verse Novel 'Long Way Down'

Thursday, 13 May, 2021

The right book can instantly transport you to anywhere — and anytime — in the world. Every Thursday, we recommend one of our favorite books with a strong sense of place so you can see the sights, meet remarkable people, go on exciting adventures, and feel big feelings. Bonus: You don't even have to put on pants.

This post is part of our 'Weekend Getaway' series.


A tight space. A series of ghosts. Choices that can’t be undone. This thoroughly modern ghost story unfolds through verse that thrills the ear and the imagination. Its haunting narrative grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go.

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 love the audiobook narrated by the author. We recommend listening to the audiobook while you read along for a fully immersive, multimedia experience.


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

Long Way Down

by Jason Reynolds

This YA ghost story (320 pages) was published in October of 2017 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books. The book takes you to an unforgettable elevator ride. read Long Way Down and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if didn't recommend it. is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.

Long Way Down


Top image courtesy of Anthony Fomin/Unsplash.

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