Why YA – Long Way Down

YA = Young Adult Literature = Books with Young Adults in them. They can be fiction or non; poetry or prose; long or short. Honestly, the thing about YA literature is that it nearly always contains social issues that surround each and everyone of us in our daily lives – which brings us back to Why YA. Young adults experience way more than many of us can imagine, and they are in desperate need of multiple perspectives. YA literature shows these perspectives to all of us whether we are young adults or not. And that’s why YA . . . I hope my blog helps you find some reads. Sheryl Servatius-Brown/SSB

Why YA? Long Road Down

Friday, September 21st by Sheryl Servatius-Brown/SSB

For my first blog, I’m going to talk about Long Way Down by award-winning author Jason Reynolds. Reynolds has written many books for young adult audiences including Ghost, When I Was the Greatest, and All American Boys. He uses his talent to show how urban teens grapple with issues that make their way into the news every night.
“An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.” (Simon and Schuster)
I was sucked into the book from the first page. Even though I know the book takes place in only 60 seconds, I forget as I read. There is that much action and thought in it. Will watches his older brother get shot and killed. Now he must decide if he is going to follow the rules and avenge his death or break the rules and move on. As the reader, I know what he should do. Wait, as a grown woman from a small town, I know what I think he should do. Quickly I realize that I absolutely can’t know because I don’t live in Will’s world.
So Will climbs in the elevator while he’s trying to decide. That’s when he runs into old friends – old dead friends. Each one gets his/her say on the matter as the elevator descends. Thus the title. It truly is a long way down. Told in verse form, the book is fast-paced and intriguing. One could read it in a sitting. Reynolds has the power to help the reader visualize Will’s world. I don’t live in an urban world, but I do live in a vengeful world – and honestly, sometimes I find myself trying to choose whether to let things go.
Reynolds continues to toss out numerous themes that young adults deal with no matter where they live: vengeance, loyalty, survival, mourning. How does one move on after a brother’s death? How can parents keep their kids safe in their very own neighborhoods? How do we know which sets of rules to follow? I can’t say enough about this book: read it. –SSB