Title: The Crossover
Author: Kwame Alexander
Genre: YA General Fiction
Review: Orla O’ Brien (Kildare Town Library)
Synopsis: A powerful novel in verse about twin brothers who are rivals both on and off the basketball court. Winner of the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Honor Award.
Review: This is a captivating verse novel, which means it is written in the form of poetry. The author makes reading it playful, with words jumping up and down and bouncing around like a basketball. This adds to the rhythm and momentum of the book. The two main characters are identical twins, Jordan and Josh. The story is told from Josh’s perspective. His internal dialogue is humorous, yet it is moving and heart-wrenching to read at times.
The reader is pulled into the twin’s world. The twins spark off each other and there is sibling rivalry throughout the book. The boys eat, sleep and dream about basketball. It comes then as no surprise to learn that their beloved Dad was once a professional basketball player. He helps to guide them along the way.
Their mother, Crystal, is the assistant school principal. There is an unwritten rule that if their academic work suffers then there will be no more basketball. Both boys are athletic and intelligent. Their parent’s efforts to keep them grounded is admirable.
This is an African-American family who are successful and ambitious. Their parents have not sugar-coated how tough life can be for people of colour in America. They are strict and expect a lot from their educated sons. They encourage them to be the best they can be. They warn them not to get into fights and not to lose their temper, no matter what happens. They know only too well that Black Americans are more likely to end up in jail and trouble than other races. They are preparing them for the obstacles they will face throughout their lives. Showing their sons that they are prosperous, spurs them on to do well in life too.
So, when Josh angrily smacks a basketball into Jordan’s face and breaks his nose, his parents are not impressed. Josh is ordered to sit on the side lines for punishment. His anger has flared up because he became extremely jealous of Jordan having a girlfriend. They used to do everything together and now he has no one. Despite Josh apologising profusely to his twin, Jordan wants nothing to do with him.
This book is more than just basketball, The boys learn lessons about life the hard way, on and off the court. They don’t always win at the game called life. It encourages the reader to follow their passion and dreams. A roller-coaster of a read that’s jam packed with highs and lows.