I’ve seen this book in quite a few booktuber’s videos and when I was looking for a short audiobook, I noticed that this one was just over an hour long so it was perfect for what I was looking for! At the time, I didn’t really know what it was about, but wow was this a powerful read.
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.
A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.
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.
Not only is having a book like this read to you on audio extremely powerful, having it read by the author makes it even more so. I didn’t even realize that this was in verse until I looked into it more, and the author did a fantastic job of telling his story, which is of course to be expected. The author was so passionate and it was a tough read solely based on the subject material.
“ANOTHER THING ABOUT THE RULES:
They weren’t meant to be broken.
They were meant for the broken to follow.”
The fact that this is such a short book didn’t take away from the character development and the emotional connection between the characters and the action. I don’t have much to say about this book other than I think everyone needs to read it because it is so emotional and shows the cyclical nature of violence, especially in lower income, urban communities.