Pancho goes to live at St. Anthony's after his father and sister die because he has to. Pancho helps wheel D.J., the kid who has brain cancer and is pretty bossy despite the fact that he's dying, around because he has to. Pancho makes the choice to go to Albuquerque, though, for just one reason: to avenge his sister's murderer. Unfortunately, he's only able to get to Albuquerque by agreeing to stay with D.J. while he undergoes new cancer treatments. D.J. is pretty insistent on believing that he and Pancho are friends, trusting him with his secrets and even telling him about the Death Warriors Manifesto. Part of what it takes to be a Death Warrior is to behave in such a way that always confirms the belief that life is better than death -- not just living life to the fullest, but also shunning death. Being a Death Warrior doesn't quite fit into Pancho's plans of what he would like to do when he finally confronts his sister's killer.
With a diverse mix of characters, there are no stereotypes presented in this story, and everyone has the opportunity to decide what kind of person he or she wants to be. This story was strongly reminiscent of the song lyric "You can't always get what you want / but if you try sometimes you just might find / you get what you need."
Like the author's most recent novel, Marcelo in the Real World, this novel is recommended to readers of all kinds.
Reviewed by kate the librarian.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
1 day ago