ALEXANDER, Kwame with Mary Rand Hess. Swing
Booklist Reviews 2018 October #1
Alexander (Rebound?, 2018) and Hess (Animal Ark?, 2017) struck gold with their collaboration on Solo ? (2017), and this spiritual successor follows the same free-verse format. While quieter overall than Solo, the quality of the poems and distinct characterization is still there. High-school junior Noah explains, "My best friend / Walt Disney Jones / is obsessed with jazz, / baseball, / dead famous people, / and finding cool, / if it's the last thing we ever do." Walt (aka Swing) is Noah's biggest cheerleader when it comes to winning over his lifelong crush, Sam. Unfortunately, she has Noah firmly in the friend zone. On a serendipitous trip to the thrift store, Noah finds inspirational love letters written by an enigmatic author named Corinthian. With some meddling from Walt, Noah crafts artistic found poems from the love letters and leaves them for Sam to find. Ultimately a nuanced examination of changing friendship dynamics and first loves, this novel packs a punch into its shocking and extremely powerful ending torn straight from today's headlines. High-Demand Backstory: Alexander and Hess' first collaboration hit best-seller lists, and this second topical outing is sure to pull a crowd as well. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2019 Spring
This coming-of-age novel in verse centers on seventeen-year-old best friends Noah, who's white, and Walt (a.k.a. Swing), who's black. A conversational tone belies the multivalence of this story about the complexities of friendship, romance, patriotism, and prejudice. Life seems on the upswing until a wrenching, pulled-from-the-headlines incident shatters the boys' lives and underscores Noah's feeling that "America is sometimes / not so beautiful." Copyright 2019 Horn Book Guide Reviews.