Review: The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander
February 27, 2015 § 6 Comments
I thought I would start this blog with this year’s Newbery and Coretta Scott King winner: The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander.
I didn’t know anything about the book before I read it, except that it had won the Newbery. – Well, I knew there would be something in it about basketball.
For other dummies like me, here is what everyone else knows about The Crossover: it’s written in verse, it’s about twin brothers who play basketball, and it will break your heart.
I don’t generally love verse novels. I had finished one verse novel until now – and that was required reading. The verse in Crossover pulled me in immediately, however, and made me wish I could rap. Or at least rap in my head – I’m not cut out to be a second Iggy Azalea. Still, I could feel the rhythm of Alexander’s verse during the basketball games: he wrote the excitement and tension and speed of the game so that it was palpable. Other times, the verse was freer, or slow, or funny.
12-year-old Josh Bell, the narrator, and his twin brother Jordan are the stars of their basketball team. Basketball threads throughout the novel: the boys’ lives are centered around their teams, their practice, their games; their dad is a retired professional player; they play basketball with him and he uses it to teach them life lessons. But the novel is ultimately about the bond between the brothers, and between them and their father. For all the boys are athletic and goofy, their love for each other and their parents is deep and strong, and it animates Josh in particular.
The Bell family is rounded and real; I loved them from early on in the novel, and felt for them, and cried over them. Although the verse was so enjoyable to read, it is Alexander’s characters who really make the novel worthy of its prizes.
If you haven’t already, dear reader, I strongly suggest that you read The Crossover. Then let me know what you think; I’d love to discuss it with you!
(Here is my review of The Crossover on Goodreads, which, since I had just finished reading it at the time, is much shorter than this. )