Review: The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

crossover

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Josh Bell is a 13-year-old basketball star along with his twin brother Jordan.  They are the sons of Chuck “Da Man” Bell, who used to play European ball.  Now their father plays only with them, helping them learn the tricks of being a great ball handler.  Josh also has a beat, a rhythm that he patters when he plays, creating rap riffs as he runs on the court.  As he tells his story in verse, he also reveals more than just playing ball, he shows how he and his brother are becoming strong young men.  It just may be though that the strongest man that they know has some weaknesses of his own, ones that come at a huge toll. 

Can I just say how important this book is?  It is a verse novel, A VERSE NOVEL, for pre-teens that is about young African-American boys who are being reared by two involved parents in a middle-class home.  This book takes stereotypes and turns them on their heads.  Then you have the incredible verse by Alexander, capturing the rhythm of basketball and also the beat of an entire family.  The writing is so strong, so vibrant that the book can’t be put down. 

Josh is a great character as is his entire family.  None of them are stereotypes and both boys are different and yet similar to one another too.  They both struggle with playing the best, meeting girls, living up to their parents’ expectations, and discovering the truth about their father.  This is a coming-of-age story, but one that is dynamic and fresh.

Perfect for sports fans, this verse novel will surprise with its rap feel and its incredible depth.  Simply spectacular.  Appropriate for ages 11-13.

Reviewed from library copy.