(Pictured on the right: author Jason Reynolds attempts to teach Mr. Armstrong how to take selfies.)
Fifteen-year-old Will, paralyzed by grief when his older brother Shawn is shot and killed, slowly comes to reconsider The Rules in his head. There are three:
1. Don’t cry.
2. Don’t snitch.
3. If someone you love gets killed, find the person who killed them, and kill them.
So Will locates Shawn’s gun and leaves his family’s eighth-floor apartment. However, on each floor of the descending elevator, Will is joined by yet another dead victim or perpetrator in the chain of violence that took his brother’s life. Shawn’s best friend Buck gets into the elevator on seven; Dani, Will’s friend from childhood, gets in on six; Will and Shawn’s uncle Mark gets in on five, in a cloud of cigarette smoke.
And so it goes, each stop of the elevator adding to the chorus of ghosts, each one with his or her perspective on The Rules that Will feels he must follow. Ultimately, Will must make a choice: to avenge his brother's death, or to find another path forward.
What will his decision be? And, more importantly, what would you do?