Review: The Crossover Is A Heartwarming Tale About Family Bonds, Basketball

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This book by Kwame Alexander is more than powerful. I’ve reread the book so many times, and I just can’t get tired of it. The Crossover is a Coretta Scott King and Newbery Medal-winning book with illustrations by Dawud Anyabwile. It’s a heartwarming tale of two boys, their unique father, a girl nicknamed “Miss Sweet Tea”, and one basketball championship trophy.

Kwame Alexander originally wrote this book in poetry, and Dawud Anyabwile made a graphic novel adaptation of it. The words are the same in both books, but I’ve only read the graphic novel version.

Josh “Filthy McNasty” Bell and his twin brother Jordan “JB” Bell only have a few things in common. 1. They share parents and a birthday. 2. They’re both kings at the court. 3. This year, they hope to win the championship for their team, but with everything going on in their life, chances are they won’t.

Josh is glad that they look different, though they are identical twins. One difference is their hair. JB wears his hair cut low and Josh wears locks. After a bet Josh lost, JB accidentally cuts off a whole patch of Josh’s hair and Josh has to get it all shaved.

I think that that scene symbolizes the boys’ bond “shaving” away, because soon, JB starts hanging out with a girl named Alexis, or “Miss Sweet Tea” and less and less with Josh. And when the twins realize something is wrong with their dad, Josh has even more to worry about, and he wonders when his life will stop being like his killer crossover.

A crossover is a move that many players make in basketball, where a player dribbles the ball and abruptly changes the direction of where it’s going. I think Kwame Alexander tried to say that Josh’s crossover is like his life, which keeps abruptly changing it’s direction from bad to good. It reminded me of the book I reviewed last year, Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina, because they both focus on change. (AND both books won the Newbery Medal. AND Josh and Merci both have a family member who is sick. AND Merci and Josh have trouble with crushes/girlfriends and boyfriends! AND both books are on my favorite book list!)

I really love all of the symbolism in this book, the way Kwame Alexander compared basketball to life, with “Basketball Rules” scattered throughout the book. Plus, the author’s way of expressing emotions was beautiful. When Josh was confused and upset at one part of the book, Kwame shifted the whole narrative to second person, instead of flat-out saying, “I’m confused”. This is a really powerful point in the book, because it really shows how confused Josh is, and really has a strong progress to the climax of the story.

The author knows how to make a Gen Z person laugh! There is a really awkward and funny scene where JB is scared to talk to his crush Miss Sweet Tea, so he makes Josh do the talking.

One thing I’m proud/sad about is that Kwame made me cry during one part of the book. I don’t want to say much, but the way Kwame described everything was just so, so, beautiful; and so, so, sad.

Just a note that there is a lot of romance in this book, so be prepared for that, but other than that, the book is really, really good.

I recommend this book to anyone who feels like they have no one they can relate to, or no one that can really know how they feel. I’ve felt that before, and reading about Josh, a book character with traits, flaws, and a sense of humor, makes me feel like he’s also my best friend. If you like Kwame Alexander’s work, you should also read this book. I looove his books already, and I’ve only read two of them! (The other one I’ve read and reviewed is The Undefeated.)

I rate this book…you guessed it…Four out of four roses!

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