The novel “Long Way Down,” by Jason Reynolds, takes place entirely
during a sixty-second elevator ride. In the course of that minute,
fifteen-year-old Will weighs whether to shoot his brother’s killer. On
each floor, an apparition enters and shares an account of violence and
vengeance—and it’s all told in verse.

“Long Way Down” is one of two books among this year’s contenders for the
National Book Award for Young People’s Literature that concerns a
teen-ager confronting the murder of a loved one. In “The Hate U Give,”
the début novel of Angie Thomas, sixteen-year-old Starr sees a police
officer shoot and kill a childhood friend, and is propelled into
activism. The longlist also includes novels about the immigrant
experiences of Indian, Mexican, and Haitian families; a novel about
adoption and identity; and one about finding love in an inhospitable
environment. Reynolds is one of two writers on the list who have been
long-listed before, along with Rita Williams-Garcia. For the other eight
authors, this is a first.

The full list is below.

Elana K. Arnold, “What Girls Are Made Of”
Carolrhoda Lab / Lerner Publishing Group

Robin Benway, “Far from the Tree”
HarperTeen / HarperCollins

Samantha Mabry, “All the Wind in the World”
Algonquin Young Readers / Workman

Mitali Perkins, “You Bring the Distant Near”
Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers / Macmillan

Jason Reynolds, “Long Way Down”
Atheneum / Caitlyn Dlouhy Books / Simon Schuster

Erika L. Sánchez, “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter”
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House

Laurel Snyder, “Orphan Island”
Walden Pond Press / HarperCollins

Angie Thomas, “The Hate U Give”
Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins

Rita Williams-Garcia, “Clayton Byrd Goes Underground”
Amistad / HarperCollins

Ibi Zoboi, “American Street”
Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins

The judges for the category this year include Suzanna Hermans, the
co-owner of Oblong Books Music, in the Hudson Valley; Brendan Kiely,
whose book “All American Boys,” co-authored by Jason Reynolds, won the
2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award; Kekla Magoon, whose book “X:
A Novel,” written with Ilyasah Shabazz, was long-listed for the award in
2015; Meg Medina, whose novel “Burn Baby Burn” was long-listed for the
award in 2016; and Alex Sanchez, whose books include “Rainbow Boys” and
the Lambda Literary Award-winning “So Hard to Say.”

National Book Awards finalists will be announced on October 4th, and
winners will be announced at a ceremony in New York on November 15th.

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