10 books like Long Way Down

By Jason Reynolds,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Long Way Down. Shepherd is a community of 6,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Crossover

By Kwame Alexander,

Book cover of The Crossover

Written in poetic verse, this novel is captivating, clever, and emotional. I love it when a book is written with so much emotion that I have to wipe away the tears. Yes, I cried. Alexander combined sport with heart, and this book has depth, and covers so much more than basketball. The family scenes are realistic and powerful.

The Crossover

By Kwame Alexander,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Crossover as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A million copies sold

'With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .
The court is SIZZLING.
My sweat is DRIZZLING.
Stop all that quivering.
Cuz tonight I'm delivering'

12-year-old Josh and his twin Jordan have basketball in their blood. They're kings of the court, star players for their school team. Their father used to be a champion player and they each want nothing more than to follow in his footsteps.
Both on and off the court, there is conflict and hardship which will test Josh's bond with his brother. In this heartfelt novel in verse, the boys…

We Were Liars

By E. Lockhart,

Book cover of We Were Liars

OK, I admit, I’m cheating a little with this one because the plot doesn’t technically mess with time, but the storytelling itself does since the narrator is remembering events that happened in the past. This is one of those Big Ending Plot Twist stories so I can’t say too much, but the thing that happened in the past has everything to do with the present in a way that completely blew me away. Wildly clever plotting (something I find super hard to do well). I loved this book. 

We Were Liars

By E. Lockhart,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked We Were Liars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The TikTok phenomenon and #1 New York Times bestseller.

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends-the Liars-whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honouree E. Lockhart.

Read it.

And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

Don't miss FAMILY OF LIARS, the thrilling prequel to We Were Liars, published in May 2022.

Ghost Boys

By Jewell Parker Rhodes,

Book cover of Ghost Boys

Recommended to me by a student in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, Ghost Boys, is heartbreakingly narrated by 12-year-old Jerome as he observes his family’s grief after his death. This novel adeptly reveals the ways in which Jerome’s death is part of a pattern of historical and systemic violence against Black boys. Jerome’s own understanding of this is developed through the friendship he establishes with other ghost boys, including Emmet Till.

Jermaine’s descriptions of his Chicago neighbourhood are vivid. The poignant chapter, "Roam," where Jermaine discovers the dichotomy between his underserved neighbourhood and other parts of the city should remind us of the lasting impact on urban landscapes of decades of deliberate, racist policies, such as redlining. As Jermaine says, “Chicago is more beautiful than I ever thought.”

Ghost Boys

By Jewell Parker Rhodes,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Ghost Boys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A heartbreaking and powerful story about a black boy killed by a police officer, drawing connections through history, from award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes.

Only the living can make the world better. Live and make it better.

Twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat. As a ghost, he observes the devastation that's been unleashed on his family and community in the wake of what they see as an unjust and brutal killing.

Soon Jerome meets another ghost: Emmett Till, a boy from a very different time but similar circumstances. Emmett…

The Outsiders

By S.E. Hinton,

Book cover of The Outsiders

While the connection between Ponyboy Curtis and Cherry Valance never goes beyond a simple crush on Ponyboy’s part, I would argue that their connection is memorable, unlikely, and life-changing. The fact that they even find each other and are able to talk as honestly as they do is surprising and heartwarming. In the end, they show each other that their social groups aren’t as different as the others might think—they all have problems and redeeming qualities. Cherry tells Ponyboy that not all Socs are like the ones who beat up Johnny. S.E. Hinton takes the romantic notion one step further and adds to the impossibility and heartbreak of it all when Cherry confesses to Ponyboy that, if things were different, she could fall in love with Dally, one of Ponyboy’s friends who is a fellow greaser. In the end, this is a life-changing book for me because it, along with…

The Outsiders

By S.E. Hinton,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Outsiders as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

50 years of an iconic classic! This international bestseller and inspiration for a beloved movie is a heroic story of friendship and belonging.

Cover may vary.

No one ever said life was easy. But Ponyboy is pretty sure that he's got things figured out. He knows that he can count on his brothers, Darry and Sodapop. And he knows that he can count on his friends-true friends who would do anything for him, like Johnny and Two-Bit. But not on much else besides trouble with the Socs, a vicious gang of rich kids whose idea of a good time is…

The Hate U Give

By Angie Thomas,

Book cover of The Hate U Give

When it comes to unforgettable protagonists fifteen-year-old Starr Carter definitely tops the list. Her father, Maverick, is also someone that I was left wanting to know more about and, luckily, Concrete Rose (Thomas’s follow-up to THUG), gives us the backstory to his life.

The Hate U Give details Starr’s journey as she struggles with deciding whether or not to testify in front of a grand jury after her best friend, Khalil, is killed by a police officer. The settings of the novel are critical to Starr’s inner conflict as she grapples with having to navigate between her home in Garden Heights, a tight-knit but underserved community where the lack of good schools and employment opportunities allows gangs and gun violence to flourish, and the wealthy neighbourhood where she attends private school.

The Hate U Give

By Angie Thomas,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Hate U Give as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a major motion picture, starring Amandla Stenberg

No. 1 New York Times bestseller

Winner of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize * Goodreads Choice Awards Best of the Best * National Book Award Longlist * British Book Awards Children's Book of the Year * Teen Vogue Best YA Book of the Year

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a…


Blood Water Paint

By Joy McCullough,

Book cover of Blood Water Paint

Joy McCullough’s Blood Water Paint is historical fiction that tells the story of Artemisia Gentileschi, a Renaissance painter who survived a sexual assault and persevered to see her assailant convicted in an Italian court. If the true aspects of the story weren’t compelling enough, McCullough contrasts her fictional character with the biblical heroines Judith and Susanna, using prose and verse strategically to weave the stories with their counter-narratives. McCullough’s experience as a playwright shines through here and her poetic devices are downright Shakespearean, revealing clues to her characters’ emotional truths through the deceptively simple arrangement of words on the page. This book is astonishingly good and a must-read for anyone intrigued by novels in verse.

Blood Water Paint

By Joy McCullough,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Blood Water Paint as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Her mother died when she was twelve, and suddenly Artemisia Gentileschi had a stark choice: a life as a nun in a convent or a life grinding pigment for her father's paint.

She chose paint.

By the time she was seventeen, Artemisia did more than grind pigment. She was one of Rome's most talented painters, even if no one knew her name. But Rome in 1610 was a city where men took what they wanted from women, and in the aftermath of rape Artemisia faced another terrible choice: a life of silence or a life of truth, no matter the…

Out of the Dust

By Karen Hesse,

Book cover of Out of the Dust

Out of the Dust was the first verse novel I read. Set during the Dust Bowl of the thirties, I was drawn into the story from the first page. I loved Billy Jo, the main character, and was impressed by Karen Hesse’s ability to capture, in so few words, the dust, desolation, and difficulty of living in Oklahoma at that time. 

Out of the Dust

By Karen Hesse,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Out of the Dust as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Acclaimed author Karen Hesse's Newbery Medal-winning novel-in-verse explores the life of fourteen-year-old Billie Jo growing up in the dust bowls of Oklahoma.

Out of the Dust joins the Scholastic Gold line, which features award-winning and beloved novels. Includes exclusive bonus content!"Dust piles up like snow across the prairie. . . ."A terrible accident has transformed Billie Jo's life, scarring her inside and out. Her mother is gone. Her father can't talk about it. And the one thing that might make her feel better -- playing the piano -- is impossible with her wounded hands.To make matters worse, dust storms are…

Voices

By David Elliott,

Book cover of Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc

In Voices, David Elliott uses formal verse to explore the last hours that Joan of Arc lived. Told from multiple points of view, including the voice of the flame that will burn Joan at the stake, Elliott chooses specific poetic forms to reflect fundamental truths about the different characters. All forms of verse in the book were popular during Joan’s actual lifetime, and Elliott provides an interesting author’s note at the back of the book. Aside from being a poetic tour de force, Voices is a true page-turner, and readers will root for Joan to triumph over her enemies, even as they dread the inevitable outcome.

Voices

By David Elliott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Voices as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Told through medieval poetic forms and in the voices of the people and objects in Joan of Arc's life, (including her family and even the trees, clothes, cows, and candles of her childhood), Voices offers an unforgettable perspective on an extraordinary young woman. Along the way it explores timely issues such as gender, misogyny, and the peril of speaking truth to power. Before Joan of Arc became a saint, she was a girl inspired. It is that girl we come to know in Voices.

Clap When You Land

By Elizabeth Acevedo,

Book cover of Clap When You Land

I’m fascinated by the stories of DNA secrets that unite, confuse, and complicate lives. Camino Rios and Yahaira Rios had no idea they shared the same father—until he perished in an airplane disaster. Told in verse with alternating viewpoints, this novel drew me in right away. Camino Rios had her father every summer while Yahaira had her father the rest of the year, both living very different lives—until their father’s death changed everything. Suspense builds as the two girls follow clues to the shocking realization that they are sisters. Once I started reading, I could not put the book down. 

Clap When You Land

By Elizabeth Acevedo,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Clap When You Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The stunning New York Times bestselling novel from the 2019 Carnegie Medal winning, Waterstones Book Prize shortlisted author of THE POET X. 2020 Goodreads Choice Award Winner of CLAP WHEN YOU LAND.

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people...

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal's office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a…

The Secret History

By Donna Tartt,

Book cover of The Secret History

A murder cover-up in the Classics department of an elite liberal arts college. Tartt reveals the murderer on the first page. The Secret History is riveting crime fiction because it understands the most compelling element isn’t “whodunnit”, but “why?” What follows is Greek tragedy, at once immersive and compulsively readable. I wish it would never end because it’s not the kind of novel you read to find out what happens. You read it because you want to live in its world forever. For the way it comes to aesthetics with awe and terror. The supernatural crashes in only briefly, in the form of a pagan god come to teach us beauty isn’t about pretty things or pleasant feelings. It’s not sexy. Beauty disturbs and threatens. It doesn’t offer amusements. It compels us to worship.   

The Secret History

By Donna Tartt,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Secret History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE BESTSELLER THAT DEFINED AN AGE

'Everything, somehow, fit together; some sly and benevolent Providence was revealing itself by degrees and I felt myself trembling on the brink of a fabulous discovery, as though any morning it was all going to come together---my future, my past, the whole of my life---and I was going to sit up in bed like a thunderbolt and say oh! oh! oh!'

Under the influence of a charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at a New England college discover a way of thought and life a world away from their banal contemporaries.…


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