A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Long Way Down offers the chance to discuss gun violence and what can be done to prevent it.
Family members turn to each other for strength after tragedy. An eye for a eye only leads to more violence.
Positive Role Models
Will idolizes his older brother Shawn, who pays the price for his poor choices. People from the neighborhood want Will to take the time to think through what killing someone means,
Violence & Scariness
A half-dozen shootings occur in this story. Sometimes the shootings are only alluded to, but there are illustrations of dead bodies and mortal wounds.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Will and Shawn talk about and exaggerate their experiences with girls.
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Infrequent strong language -- one or two instances of "damn," "hell," and "s--t."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adult and teen characters sell drugs on the street. Riders smoke in an elevator.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a graphic novel adaptation of Jason Reynolds' award-winning novel in verse. As he rides the elevator down from his sixth-floor apartment, Will remembers his older brother, recently killed in a street shooting. On each floor, Will meets various people who have been shot to death, and he must make up his mind whether to commit murder in return to avenge his brother's death. Each chapter depicts a shooting, and the illustrations are sometimes disturbing. There's mild swearing -- one or two instances of "hell," "damn," and "s--t" -- and little sexual content -- a reference to boys bragging about their experiences with girls. Teens sell drugs on the street. Riders in the elevator smoke cigarettes.
Is It Any Good?
Grief can cause reckless behavior, and this hard-hitting meditation on the urge for revenge exposes its dangers. This adaptation of Long Way Down, Jason Reynolds' novel-in-verse, captures all of the emotional power of the original version, but in an abbreviated narrative space. Danica Novgorodoff's exquisite watercolors match Will's changing mood and turbulent outlook, and they may upset sensitive readers. There's a lot of heartbreak here, and the creators don't back away from the tragedies that befall Will, Shawn, and other boys, men, and young women from the neighborhood. The ending is not pat but it's satisfying, and it should spark discussion in a wide range of readers. Long Way Down is gripping from top to bottom.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.