Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate, Young Adult
Author: Jason Reynolds
Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
No crying, no snitching, and get revenge. Those are the rules that Will sets for himself after his older brother, Shawn, is shot. When Will gets to the elevator with Shawn’s gun in hand, he doesn’t expect to change his mind. But as the elevator goes down the different floors of his building, Will encounters the ghosts of Buck, Danny, his uncle, his dad … and Shawn. Each ghost questions him and presents him with information that changes his thinking, helping him see the bigger story, and, ultimately, changing his mind about getting revenge.
Reynolds has crafted this incredibly poignant story in an extremely raw yet approachable way. The novel in verse takes the reader on a fast, fierce ride down the elevator with Will and encapsulates the quick stream of consciousness that Will’s mind plays during the minute-long, life-changing ride. The themes and story contain some very thought-provoking and difficult material. Reynolds approaches this content with the hand of a master; his writing is never didactic. Instead, Reynolds takes the reader through Will’s thought process by laying it out and giving gentle nudges to think about what is happening in the story. But beyond that, Reynolds leaves everything in the reader’s hands to think about and grapple with. This is a stunning, quick read that will leave readers thinking long after finishing.
*Contains mild language and moderate violence.