I read this book by Jason Reynolds so quickly, I actually forgot I had read it. I was first made aware of its existence (and its awesomeness) via Twitter, where a bunch of people I follow were raving about it. I spent the last week of 2017 furiously reading short books to try to finish my Goodreads goal (which I did manage to complete with just 3.5 hours to go!) so this was one I grabbed because I knew I’d be able to blow through it in an hour or two.
It’s a novel written in verse about a young black boy, Will, who is 15 years old when his brother is shot and killed. Although he was at the scene when it happened, Will didn’t get a clear look at the shooter, but he’s convinced he knows who did it.
The morning after his brother is killed, Will takes his brother’s gun from his dresser and heads to the elevator to get revenge. Will lives on the eighth floor of his apartment building and the majority of the book takes place in his elevator ride down to the lobby.
At each floor someone else gets on the elevator, but it turns out each “person” is really a ghost from Will’s past who was killed by street violence and they all start talking to him about what happened to his brother and what he intends to do about it. There’s a girl who was killed in front of Will when they were both young children (although she appears to him as a teenager). His father and his father’s best friend both appear to him, as well as Will’s brother.
They have some things to say to Will about what he’s planning to do. First of all, Will has never killed anyone before, and despite the code of the streets, they want to make sure he’s really ready to do this before he does something he can never take back.
They also want to make sure that, if he does take a life, he’s taking the “right” life. Will has his reasoning for why it “had to” have been a certain guy, but it turns out Will’s father was also sure of his best friend’s killer when he got revenge, but it turns out he got the wrong guy and that mistake ultimately led to his own death as the cycle of revenge continued. In actuality, his best friend was killed because he was mistaken for someone else.
The book ends with the elevator doors opening on the lobby. They never resolve what Will’s decision is going to be and I think that makes a perfect ending for this book. I loved everything about it, and would have read it just as quickly even if I hadn’t been racing to reach my Goodreads goal because this book was a pageturner. Every time someone new got on the elevator, I couldn’t wait to keep reading and see what would happen next.
This is a powerful book and the verse is beautiful. I read it, but I bet it would make a great audiobook because of how gorgeous the language is.
What did you guys read this week? Any other good one-sitting reads?