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.
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
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.
Bookshop.org is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.
Top image courtesy of Anthony Fomin/Unsplash.
Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!
Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.
If you like the work we do, you can help support us through our Patreon! That'll unlock additional content, too — like Mel's recipe for Banh Mi Bowls, and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.
This is a weekly email. If you'd like a quick alert whenever we update our blog, subscribe here.
We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.
This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.
Content on this site is © 2021 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.