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“Long Way Down” by Jason Reynolds: How to get teens attention

Jason Reynolds is well known to readers in different countries. This American writer offers his literary works to young people and middle school students. Jason Reynolds is a laureate and winner of many literary awards for his works. He began to study poetry earlier than prose. Jason Reynolds was inspired to write his poetry at the age of nine by rap music. He does not stop writing poetry, publishes several poetry collections, but, at the same time, works on prose. In 2014, his debut novel “When I Was the Greatest” was published, which brought him popularity, recognition from critics and readers, and the first literary awards. The novel “Long Way Down” was written in 2017. 

Features of the Text

The first thing you notice in a book is the layout of the text. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds can be disclosed at storyboardthat.com since it combines the linearity of the protagonist’s storytelling, typical for prose, and the rhythm and poetic form allows him to convey the polyphony that sounds in the text and in the story itself.

The text of the book is a large narrative, compressed into a poetic form. The big narrative here is represented by one moment in the life of a teenager. However, while reading the novel, it becomes clear that through a private story, Jason Reynolds tells and shows the reader the pain and tragedy of more than one generation living by the laws of the street.

Plot Features

Sean, brother of 15-year-old Will, is killed in a shootout between street gangs. This is where the novel begins and through this tragedy in the life of one teenager, he shows the chain of violence that surrounds the teenager. He lives in a world in which, even before him, there were rules.

And Will understands that to break these rules means to betray his brother. He finds the gun and takes the elevator down from the eighth floor. He has a plan — to avenge the death of his brother. In this very elevator, his “long way down” takes place. The descent by elevator from the eighth floor takes a teenager no more than a minute, but this path seemed to him very long:

  • Will’s booth on each floor is filled with people he knows, but who are long dead. The father of the protagonist, his uncle, his best friend, the girl he loved at school, and his brother — all died in street shootings. They are ghosts of the past, each of them has his story and Will listens to them.
  • After hearing the stories from the ghosts, Will will have to make his choice: continue the chain of death and follow the unspoken rules of the street, or deviate from the rules.
  • The novel has an open ending and ends with a teenager standing in front of the first-floor elevator doors. The writer does not give the reader a ready answer about what will happen to the main character next. Each reader will answer the question in his way: “What will happen next?”.

 

The Meaning of the Book for the Younger Generation

In his novel, Jason Reynolds shows a real picture of violence on the streets of American cities. He describes the feelings experienced by the hero. And his experiences from the death of his brother take the reader to the scene of events that are depicted with documentary authenticity of what was happening at that moment.

Jason Reynolds does not create a romantic picture of noble revenge for the death of his brother. From the first to the last lines of the novel, he shows what is happening on the streets of disadvantaged areas. However, “Long Way Down” can be called a warning novel for many who find themselves in a situation of choosing to commit a crime of revenge or leave these cases to the representatives of the law. And the ghosts of Will’s family and friends warn him of the mistake he might make and its consequences.

“Long Way Down” makes it possible to understand that the writer in his works touches on serious and important issues for young people, he is looking for a language that can convey history to them. He managed to write a non-boring book about the important things, which will help the young reader to make the right choice in life.

Categories: Life

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