This month, we are delighted to have a book choice from award-winning author SF Said. He was born in Lebanon in 1967, but has lived in London since he was 2 years old. He wrote his first novel, Varjak Paw (2003), while working as a speechwriter for the Crown Prince of Jordan.
I’d like to recommend Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, illustrated by Chris Priestley. This is a hugely powerful and poetic book that packs an enormous punch. When I finished it, I wanted to go right back to the beginning and read it all again.
It’s about a boy named Will whose brother has been killed, and who is thinking about revenge. It’s a verse novel: a story made of many short poems that go back and forth in time, showing you all the things that lead up to Will’s decision. There aren’t many words in it, so each one counts; every sentence hits hard. You can easily read it in an afternoon, yet it will haunt you for a long time afterwards, as it has haunted me.
Who is it for? I think it’s a book that everyone should read, but this is what the author says in his dedication: “For all the young brothers and sisters in detention centres around the country, the ones I’ve seen, and the ones I haven’t. You are loved.”
Thanks very much for this choice!
As well as being a wonderful writer, SF Said is a supporter of schools, libraries, and reading for pleasure, writing extensively on children’s and young adult fiction. Find out more on his website and Twitter.