Happy Wednesday, my friends!
I’ve been quiet for a little while here. We’ve just returned from a trip to visit family for my sister’s wedding. It was a wonderful celebration but we’re glad to be home and getting back into our normal routines.
I’m going back to a book I finished last month for today’s review. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. Written entirely in verse, it tells a story full of passion, brotherhood, and love. I’m not sure what I expected from The Crossover, but I was blown away! My first thought on finishing was “Wow, I have never read anything like that!” followed quickly by “wow, this is a well deserved Newbery winner.”
Y’all might not know that I am a big sports fan. I love college football and college basketball especially. Oh and the Olympics!! For me, this book spoke to my nerdy fandom and my passion for the game of basketball. It’s exciting and fast paced. But it’s not just for sports nerds like me. I think children and adults will love this novel.
- One of my favorite elements of the book is the verse form. It’s so well done and so unique. More on this below.
- This is a quick read. The verse form helps with that. I read it in just over 24 hours and didn’t feel rushed or over saturated with reading.
- I want to own this book. And I’m definitely adding Alexander’s other books to my TBR.
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander tells the coming of age story of Josh Bell and his twin brother Jordan, basketball stars on their middle school’s team. Goodreads summarizes, “‘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,’ announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he’s got mad beats, too, that tell his family’s story in verse, in this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood. Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story’s heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family.”
“Basketball Rule #3
Never let anyone
lower your goals.
of you are determined
by their limitations of life.
The sky is your limit, sons.
Always shoot for the sun
and you will shine.”
Easily the most memorable and moving element of this novel is the verse form. Alexander’s style and the poetical elements is so different and so well done. I love the way he uses the actual text on the page to tell the story with font style, size, and organization on the page. Some of the words are falling down the page while others are broken up or really big. Throughout the book he offers “basketball rules” that apply not only to sports but to life. Furthermore, the emotion and power evoked from the verse is intense and impressive. You feel for the characters, for their triumphs and loss, and you hope for reconciliation and healing. I have never read anything like this, and I love the uniqueness.
This is a great novel to get boys into reading! Josh is a fun protagonist, especially for a preteen boy audience. He seems to be the epitome of cool–a sports star, rapper, and a good friend. I think many of his experiences are so relatable for middle school readers. He and his brother fight, he makes mistakes, he tries to be the best, he has to learn how to be a man, and he has to prioritize basketball, school, and family. There are so many great lessons in this novel that makes Josh a great role model for young men (and women). I would recommend it to a slightly older age since it’s narrator is 12 and there are some more intense themes.
The story has so many layers to it which makes it great for a variety of audiences. While I think a younger audience would love this story, adults would also easily connect with it. We have the story of two brothers who love basketball. But there are also discussions of family, coming of age, overcoming trials, forgiveness and making amends after mistakes, grief, and brotherhood. Parents will connect with this story of trying to raise children in the best way we can. Teenagers will connect with the elements of fitting in and changing relationships as they grow up. Siblings will connect with the bond between the Bell brothers, and the ways that bond is tested. And everyone will connect with the love and connection between family members.
“Basketball Rule #1
In this game of life
your family is the court
and the ball is your heart.
No matter how good you are,
no matter how down you get,
on the court.”
Implied plot spoiler in this paragraph!!
The ending is healing, heartbreaking, and emotional. There’s a huge plot twist to end the story. I think it so intense because we learn how close the brothers are with their dad. Their relationships are strong and steadying which makes the change more intense. And reading about that loss in verse is all the more powerful. Again, I have never read anything like this. It’s powerful. It’s raw. It’s beautiful. Well done, Kwame Alexander.
This is a new favorite Newbery winner for me. I love the characters, the family connections, the relatable story, and the verse. I think audiences of all ages will connect with the story. The verse form is seriously amazing! Read it to experience that at least! Highly recommend this one!
Have you read The Crossover yet?
What other books in verse should I check out?
This is my 9th Newbery Medal book finished as part of my Newbery Challenge
to read all 100 Newbery Medal winners by the end of 2022,
the year the 100th winner is announced!