The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander

CrossoverJosh and Jordan are eighth-grade basketball stars. Twin sons of a million dollar basketball legend, their lives revolve around games and practicing for games. Lay-ups, free throws, and crossovers, the boys’ dad keeps them on it, while their mom—who is also the school principal— makes sure that they keep up their grades.

One day, the guys find a document that reveals the reason that their dad quit playing years ago, and it helps them to understand why their mom is so upset that he won’t take care of himself now. When Jordan gets a girlfriend, Josh loses his best friend, and with his parents’ secretive whispering, he feels very alone. He continues to excel in school and stay committed to the team, but inside, his world is falling apart.

Written in verse that reads like rap, Kwame Alexander has crafted a novel that will resonate with sports-loving boys. Quick, powerful, and relevant, this is a great read for even reluctant middle-school readers. I particularly enjoyed the fact that the main character is academically gifted as well as athletic. Alexander explores adolescent changes through a loving family and the closest sibling relationship possible.

Although sports stories are not my usual taste, the ALA Youth Media Awards are coming up in a few days, and this one is getting lots of buzz. Furthermore, I enjoyed Kwame Alexander’s remarks on diversity in children’s literature at the SLJ Day of Dialog in New York last May. So glad I read this novel; it was well worth it. Recommended.

Update February 2, 2015— It’s a winner! The Crossover just won the ALA’s Newbery Award for most distinguished contribution to children’s literature. Congratulations, Kwame Alexander!

Disclaimer: I read a library copy of this book. Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.

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