The Crossover

“But is hummus really the answer?”


My intention with this book was to find something I could recommend to my athletic, non-reader students. I wanted to find a story they could connect with, literature that speaks to them.  I ended up getting so much more than that out of this book.

Synopsis:The Crossover by Kwame Alexander is a book written in verse about two twin boys and the love of basketball that they share with their father. We follow Jordan and his brother JB as they navigate junior high, growing up, girls, and tragedy.

Each individual poem follows a unique style specific to the content. The poems about the game itself are fast-paced and rhythmic – following a sort of melody. When Jordan, or “Filthy McNasty”, is nervous or upset, the lines are short and scattered, matching the character’s feelings.

Characters: This book was 237 pages of YES. I don’t usually gravitate towards sports books, which is why I was looking for some that I could recommend to my kiddos, but I felt like I really understood this character. By writing Jordan’s story in a collection of poems, the author allowed me to connect on a deeper level with the character than I would have if it was a chapter book.

I’m currently re-watching seasons of one of my all-time favorite shows One Tree Hill…which is also a basketball-centered story about two brothers with a dad who loves the game. Both stories also had similar story arcs of heart conditions and genetic illnesses, threatening to impede on their love of the game.

Issues: I knew what was coming. I could tell pretty early on how the story would end. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because I think the integrity of the story would have been lost if the climax had been sudden. The story had to build towards it and the resolution was quick, but satisfactory. I didn’t feel like I was short changed or that the ending was unjust.

I’d recommend this book first and foremost to middle grade readers. However, I’m not limiting my recommendation to 6th-8th graders. I think anyone would like this book…even if you don’t love basketball. I’m glad I crossed over out of my comfort zone and I can’t wait to share this read with my students next year.

Pick this up if you liked:

All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg (a book about the Vietnam War and baseball, also written in verse)

The Girl Who Threw Butterflies by Mick Cochrane (similar themes and also about sports)

Goodreads rating: 4.1/5 rating: 4.8/5

My rating: 4.75/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn