Jason Reynolds's writing strives to honour the 'pain of young people'

Author Jason Reynolds opens up about his entry into the world of literature, why he wants to write books that relate to young readers, and his latest novel, Long Way Down.
Jason Reynolds is the author of Long Way Down. (Kia Chenelle, Simon & Schuster Canada)

Originally published Nov. 15, 2017

Jason Reynolds didn't read a novel, cover-to-cover, until he was 17 years old. It wasn't because there weren't books around — it was because he found the popular young adult books of his time boring and he couldn't connect with their content or characters. So, when he sits down to write, he makes sure his books are two things: compelling reads and representative of minorities.

Now, Reynolds is a New York Times bestselling author, he has won the Kirkus Prize, and he's currently nominated for the National Book Award. His latest book is Long Way Down. It follows a 15-year-old boy named Will the day after his brother is shot and killed. The story plays out over a 60-second elevator ride in which Will has to decide whether he'll follow the unspoken rules of the community and avenge brother's death, or if he'll put the gun down and walk away from the cycle of violence that's plaguing his community.

Today, Reynolds joins guest host Ali Hassan to discuss his latest book and how he wants to make reading cool for young kids.

— Produced by Vanessa Nigro


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