Jason Reynolds destroyed me with Long Way Down. I had a lump in my throat with every turn of the page. As a mother, the idea of any child or young adult grappling with death, with revenge, with his or her own humanity at such a young age twists my very soul. This is what poetry, what verse, so smooth and seamless is supposed to do, scratch at your chest digging its way to your heart. We meet Will, a young man trying to come to terms with seeing his brother gunned down. Reynold's was able to build such a vivid picture of Will, one that is little boy lost mixed with young man angry and sad. Will talks about the rules, that they are meant to be followed, that they are how things are handled, he says, "Another thing about the rules, they weren't meant to be broken, they're meant for the broken to follow...". This in a nutshell sums up Long Way Down because it is about being broken not only inwardly, but as a society. The sins of the father... Reynold's references his brothers and sisters behind bars, victims of the legacies of those that came before them. I had heard a lot about Log Way Down and several of Reynold's other works and I can say the hype was well placed. I recommend reading this along with the audio book that is narrated by Reynolds, it is languid, thick with raw yet quiet emotion, and poignant. I am glad the tissue box was close by.