A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
As LONG WAY DOWN: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL opens, Shawn witnesses his older brother Shawn's shooting death. The next morning, he leaves his mother alone in their apartment and takes the elevator down to the lobby, sure that he's going to use the gun in his pocket to kill the gang member who shot Shawn. On each floor, though, he is visited by ghosts of those neighbors who have already been victims and perpetrators. They tell Will about the mistakes they made and the lessons they learned. When the elevator stops, Will finally will be forced to make his unchangeable decision to be a killer or not.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Long Way Down depicts gun violence. Why do people feel so strongly about gun ownership?
Does revenge ever solve a problem? What are the dangers of seeking vengeance?
What are some ways to handle grief? Is it OK to cry? Is there a "right way" to show this emotion?
- Author: Jason Reynolds
- Illustrator: Danica Novgorodoff
- Genre: Graphic Novel
- Topics: Activism, Brothers and Sisters, Great Boy Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Atheneum Books For Young Readers
- Publication date: October 13, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 18
- Number of pages: 208
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: Newbery Medal and Honors
- Last updated: October 13, 2020
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