Long Way Down, a review

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds is a book I’ve heard about on the internet for years now, and yet I’d never gotten around to picking it up. When I was looking for a new audiobook I felt like this was the right choice and finally dove in!

We follow a Black teenage boy who is on his way down the elevator in his building to avenge his murdered brother. He was shot, and Will plans to shoot his brothers killer in revenge. That’s one of the rules. However, as the lift moves down people join him. People who should be dead. And they try to change his mind.

This is such an incredibly powerful story. Before I read it, I forgot that it was in verse, and I’m really glad Reynolds himself was reading the audiobook as it meant the inflictions were all in exactly the right place like he intended.

It’s quite hard hitting too, so I would recommend checking the trigger warnings down below. But this is all I’ll chat about the book because it’s a short one and I don’t want to spoil anything!

On CAWPILE I gave this: Characters: 9. Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 9, Plot: 9, Intrigue: 9, Logic: 10, and Enjoyment: 9 which is a 9.14 score and a 5* rating.

Highlight here for trigger warnings: absent parent, blood, branding (with cigarette), claustrophobia, death (child, sibling, parent, others), drugs (selling), gang violence, guns, murder.

Have you read this book in verse, and if so did you read it via audiobook or physical/ebook? It’s absolutely beautiful and in my opinion worth all the hype I’ve seen about it.

Clap When You Land, a review

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo is the second audiobook I’ve listened to by this author and I definitely think that their audiobooks are the way to go! Acevedo read’s them herself and with both Clap When You Land and The Poet X being in verse it’s great to hear it read specifically how she intended.

Not only is this narrated by Acevedo, but it’s actually dual narrated with a narrator for each sister. I loved this as it made sure that each was kept clear and distinct and they had their own style.

I also really enjoyed that this book not only covered Flight 1112 to the Dominican Republic from NYC (the primary focus of the book), but it also delved deeper into the cultures. It delved into being Dominican American and how that differs from being Dominican in both the cultural identity and simply how the girls grew up. Both financially and culturally.

It also doesn’t skirt away from the incredibly complicated relationship that is present between Haiti and the Dominican Republic and how this has real life impacts on people. Adding to that, this book just doesn’t hold any punches at all when it comes to tough topics. I adore Acevedo for this. She’ll dive in the deep end and take you with her, a comforting hand to guide you, but you’ll be told the harsh truth.

In CAWPILE I rated this book: Characters: 7, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 8, Plot: 8, Intrigue: 7, Logic: 8, and Enjoyment: 7 which gives a score of 7.71 and a rating of 4*s.

I think With the Fire On High isn’t written in verse like this book and Poet X, but I’m still excited to delve into it and see how I feel about Acevedo’s writing in a different medium!

Highlight here for trigger warnings: assault, attempted rape, attempted sexual assault, cheating, death (parent), grief, parental death, parental separation, plane crash, premature labour, risk of child death (neonatal), sexual assault, sexual harassment, sex trafficking, threat of forced sex work.

Have you read anything by Acevedo? What did you think? Let me know!

Brown Girl Dreaming, a review

Somehow Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson is my first book by her, I have no idea how it’s taken me this long!

Before I started this, I hadn’t realised that it was a memoir novel in verse. Which meant that while listening via audiobook I was able to get through this super quickly.

Woodson grew up with some very tough events in her life, and that’s separate from growing up Black in the US, in the 60s. The book is gorgeously written, and the imagery that Woodson conjures brings you into her world.

She also delves into her love of story-writing, which came to her at a young age, and how this inspired her through her childhood.

It was a gorgeous story, and it’s hard to review someone’s life, so instead of running this one through CAWPILE, I’ve given it a 4 star rating.

I think I may have gotten some more from this book if I’d read it traditionally rather than via audiobook, but I did still enjoy it and I think this is well worth picking up.