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A week ago today, we woke up to news of another mass shooting — this time at a California bar where it had been college night. It had only been eleven days since eleven people were shot and killed at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Photo credit: Yassine El Mansouri

In a rush of emotion, I wrote about my experience seeing a staged production of Jason Reynolds’ YA verse novel LONG WAY DOWN. I am grateful for this book and others — like David Barclay Moore’s THE STARS BENEATH OUR FEET — which look not only at violence, but at the underlying culture that celebrates and inculcates it, especially among boys. Especially among boys of color.

I’m grateful to Nerdy Book Club for giving me the space to process what I saw on stage and share it with you. And to my friend Susan Hobby for coming with me to see the production. And to Jason Reynolds, of course, for this book, which everyone should read.

You will find my guest post, “A Long Way to Go on Gun Violence,” here.

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Laura Shovan

Laura Shovan is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book, Takedown, is a Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way selection. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a poet-in-the-schools Maryland.

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