Kyle is stuck. Stuck in time, stuck in guilt, stuck in a shrink’s office once a week. All because he’s stuck with the memory of his best friend’s death, or the lack of memory, which makes things even worse. No matter how hard he thinks about that morning, and no matter how many times his mind repeats the scenes leading up to and following, he just can’t remember exactly how the bullet made it to Jason’s body. Vividly, Kyle can describe the scenes in which Jason and he had breakfast with Kyle’s parents and sister. Then they went outside and played around in the snow briefly before checking out Dad’s shed. There was some cool stuff in the shed, including the old film reel, which fascinates Kyle, whose dream is to be a movie director. It’s Jason who finds Dad’s old gun, but the loaded weapon ends up in Kyle’s hands while Jason lies in a pool of blood.
Following the shooting, Kyle needs to try to go back to a “normal” life, this time with his family, a parole officer and psychologist watching his every move. Kyle struggles to deal with life without his best friend, and with the fact that he could be at fault in his friend’s death. As Kyle writes screenplays detailing the various scenes leading up to, and immediately following, the “accident,” he begins to better understand the course of events, and the place that Jason held in his life. Despite the heavy material, this face-paced read offers humor and hope. Some friends offer emotional support from unexpected places, including a loner at school, the school librarian, Jason’s brother, and even his own sister. The characters are well-drawn, and the conclusion is overwhelmingly satisfying.
Recommended for older middle and high school readers.
Call number: YA AYARBE (Teen Room)
Reviewed by kate the librarian
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
1 week ago