Booked by Kwame Alexander

“The poems
were cool.

The best ones were
like bombs,
and when all the right words

came together
it was like an explosion.”

Synopsis from GoodreadsIn this follow-up to the Newbery-winning novel THE CROSSOVER,  soccer, family, love, and friendship, take center stage as twelve-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams. Helping him along are his best friend and sometimes teammate Coby, and The Mac, a rapping librarian who gives Nick inspiring books to read. This electric and heartfelt novel-in-verse by poet Kwame Alexander bends and breaks as it captures all the thrills and setbacks, action and emotion of a World Cup match!

Feelings: A couple of years ago, I read The Crossover and I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it. The way the author fuses together storytelling and poetry is really special. Kwame Alexander manages the same feat in this book, as well, showing us the perspective of a young boy who’s dealing with budding romance, divorcing parents, and hopes of soccer stardom.

This is a book I’d like to teach – we see the power of words (and learn new ones along the way), interactions with bullies and friends, and how to interpret the choices our parents make. And beautifully done poetry. What more could you ask for? I think this is a great read not only for kids, but for adults, as well. Whether you’re a parent or just someone who works with kids, this book allows us to get a glimpse at what our kiddos deal with and how they see the world. The author uses second person, which we don’t see too often, helping us to walk a mile in the main character’s shoes.

What I really love about the poetry in this book is that each individual poem serves a purpose. Some draw emotions out of us, others move the storyline along, and others still paint a picture of action and drama. When read together, we get a full story – characters, conflict, suspense, action. Masterfully done and very compelling.

Characters: Sometimes I struggle with books told from the male point of view. It’s just harder for me to connect with, for obvious reasons. However, I was able to understand Nick. I think part of it was because it was told through poetry and partly because it was second person, but I just felt what he was feeling. I was right there with him the whole time. Sometimes he frustrated me, but that’s because he’s a kid and I could see the bigger picture. I loved his relationship with his mother and getting to see his softer side.

This book has a great cast of minor characters. We have The Mac, adding some comic relief and an outside perspective, drawing us in with that mysterious box. We have Coby, who is mixed race and deals with bullying, handling it like we all hope we would. We have Nick’s parents, who are real people and dealing with very real struggles. And we have April. April is open and kind and inviting, adding another special layer to this story.

Final thoughts: I really, really enjoyed this book. It has so much going for it and I recommend it to everyone. Don’t go into it expecting it to be all about sports. Soccer is just the backdrop, but it’s not the heart of this story. People are.

Pick this up if you liked:

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg

Goodreads rating: 4.21/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.5/5

My rating: 4.5/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

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