A chilling examination of the repercussions of gun violence, Jason Reynolds’ 2017 novel-in-verse takes place over the course of 60 seconds. Fifteen-year-old Will has just entered the elevator of his apartment building with a gun in his waistband. His brother has been murdered and Will is out for revenge. But his determination is tested as ghosts from his past, all connected to the tragedy in different ways, enter the elevator and force him to reconsider what he’s about to do. Raw and piercing, Long Way Down—the recipient of a Newbery Honor, Coretta Scott King Honor and Michael L. Printz Honor—provides young people with the language to process violence and trauma. Reynolds decided to write the story in poetry so it could be characterized as a quick read and find a bigger audience. “To know you can finish this in 45 minutes means the world to me,” he said in an interview. Though its narrative is contained to just an elevator ride, Long Way Down carries the emotional weight of an epic saga. —Annabel Gutterman

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