This was not what I expected and I am very happy about that.
There are rules in life.
Rule #1: Crying. Don’t. No matter what.
Rule #2: Snitching. Don’t. No matter what.
Rule #3: Revenge. Do. No matter what.
When Shawn is shot and killed getting soap from his mom from the store, his 15-year old brother, Will does what he’s supposed to do. Follow the rules. But the ride in his apartment buildings rickety elevator gets crowded very quickly with ghosts from his past, making him question whether or not some rules were made to be broken.
(excuse my language) Bitch, what!?! This book is crazy good!
First off, it’s written entirely in verse (not rhyme, but verse), so it flows in a way your thoughts would when riding on an elevator and you know, GHOSTS are getting on at each stop. This book vaguely reminds me of a book called 253 by Geoff Ryman. Each page represented one of the 253 passengers on a London Tube train at the moment before it crashes.
On each floor, a character from Will’s past gets on and lets him know how the “rules” applied or didn’t to them now that they’re dead. From innocent bystander to intended target to the one who pulled the trigger, everyone is represented. But aside from the subject matter of the book and the brevity of each verse/though, it is just so well written. The use of language and wordplay combined with the fact author’s acknowledgments to incarcerated youths he interviewed, makes it seem like regardless of how many people he talked to, this book is a snapshot of each of the conversations they had with themselves the moment before they committed their act of revenge.
A smart, insightful, quick read. There is a reason why Jason Reynolds won so many awards for this book. And although it is a more mature subject matter, it is presented so cleverly in a way that ages 11 and up can totally get the message without being psychologically scarred.
Don’t miss it.