Sunday, November 22, 2020

Long Way Down: the graphic novel

 Long Way Down: the graphic novel 

Author: Jason Reynolds

Illustrator: Danica Novgorodoff

Publisher: Atheneum

Year: 2020


I didn’t think I could love Jason Reynolds’ book Long Way more.  Then I read the graphic novel version. 

Will is distraught when his older brother Shawn is shot and killed. But Will remembers The Rules Shawn taught him. 1. No crying. 2. No snitching. 3. Get revenge. 

Will knows who killed his brother or thinks he knows. He’ll follow The Rules. When he steps in the elevator with a gun in his waistband, he meets other passengers -loved ones who were victims of the cycle of gun violence. Will a short elevator ride be enough for Will to break The Rules? 

Reynolds’ masterpiece is an emotional punch and the graphic novel version provides a knockout. Artist Danic Novgorodoff’s watercolor illustrations are hauntingly beautiful. They perfectly match Reynolds’ spare and staccato sentences. Reynolds is at the forefront of young adult literature. He’s willing to tackle tough issues that many shy away from, but he does it with such heart and compassion. 

In interviews, Reynolds has noted that he didn’t read a book until he was 17 years old. He learned to love poetry through the lyrics of Queen Latifah. Now he writes for kids like himself, so they can see themselves in books and know the power of their own stories.  I love his attitude and commitment to kids and making stories accessible to them. 

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