Kwame Alexander’s book The Crossover is a totally engaging experience in poetry for young adults. It is a story about family, basketball, brothers, growing up, heartache, and forgiveness wrapped up in a blanket of words that sizzle and sooth.
The storyline centers on a tight-knit family comprised of Charlie Bell, a famous professional basketball player, his wife Dr. Crystal Stanley-Bell and their twin sons Josh and Jordan. Both boys are talented basketball players but find that as they begin to grow up, life gets harder. When a girlfriend enters the picture, it alters the close relationship between the boys even affecting the sport they love. At the same time, a serious illness hovers over the household bringing its own challenge.
The plot is engaging because the reader wants this family to rise above their problems, but what is so remarkable about this basic story is Mr. Alexander’s ability to use poetry to frame and deliver the actions and emotions. The reader actually feels the ball moving down the court by how the words are positioned on the page and the font that is used. The rapping is clever and rhythmical and the free verse flows so smoothly that the reader doesn’t even realize it is poetry. I loved the organization of the book to resemble the timing of a basketball game and the ten basketball rules that apply to life as well.
Kwame Anderson is well known as a published poet and educator of children and young adults. The Crossover is one more example of his passion for uniting young people and poetry. This book has received several awards including the Newberry Award and the Coretta Scott King Award.
Violence/Gore: One character is hit in the face by a deliberately thrown basketball.
Sex/Nudity: Brief kissing between teenage girlfriend and boyfriend.
Mature Subject Matter:
Death of a family member, family/personal crisis: serious illness, anger issues between family members.
Alcohol / Drug Use: