June 05 is known as the National Gun Violence Awareness Day, so reading this on the same day made it even more thought provoking and heart wrenching. Not that it would hit me any different if not worse on any other day.
I have always been concerned with the urge of people being okay with owning guns or being fascinated with weapons. I know India has a lot of things wrong, but one thing right is that it’s not okay to own a gun. Of course some do own it, with money and a license and so on. But you won’t have shops full of gun display, its not common to see a common man with a gun.
So, the fact that there was a day for Gun Violence Awareness was quite surprising. After all, how hard it would be to convince people it is dangerous and change laws? Apparently, it’s not as easy as I thought it would be.
WHAT IS ABOUT
An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.
And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.
This book was recommended to me as a “verse novel” after I read Run Rebel and I am so glad I ended up reading this right now, especially with the Black Lives Matter Protests that are happening right now. It just felt like the right time to pick up this book.
This book was brilliant at weaving real issues into a poetry and while it made it so easy to fly through the entire book in just more than an hour, I was left wanting more. I was left wanting to know what happened next.
Part of the reason I was left wanting more, is the time frame in which this story is narrated in. The whole story takes place in mere 60 seconds inside the lift. While it leaves a lot of room for interpretation and discussion I really wanted a closure to know he doesn’t take the wrong path.
Even an Epigraph would do…just so my heart would be calm about knowing he ended the cycle.But it’s hard to expect happy endings in realistic fiction talking about heavy issues isn’t it?
Don’t let my blabbering give you the wrong idea though, this book managed to deal with such heavy content with rhythm. It lets you discuss important issues and gives a human story to why it’s supposed to be so damn important to put the damn gun down.
The story is set in a lift and at every floor someone new enters. They are ghosts of people that were somehow affected by gun violence. And they weren’t just anybody, but Will’s own family and friends.. And while he doesn’t see the irony and wants to follow the rules, each brings to him the memories of what had them killed.
“But if the blood inside you is on the inside of someone else, you never want to see it on the outside of them.”Long Way Down, Jason Reynolds
The story was heart breaking because it seemed like a never ending cycle of gun violence to me. But whose fault is it ?was the question that lurked at me constantly… Why does a a fifteen year old seek comfort in revenge than trusting the system? It presents a problem much greater than gun violence and it does it while making you sob how accurate this is when it comes to such realistic issues.
Overall, this book made my heart feel helpless. I really wished Will would choose the high road. But was that justice served? No. The mere thought of the system not bothering enough to work on their gun laws and could be ignorant enough to not care of the hundreds of people that are affected by it made me feel helpless, angry and sad.
Highly recommend this book.
Published: October 24th 2017
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books