I first saw The Crossover at Barnes & Noble I thought, “This is something I should pick up for the basketball lovers in my class. But I didn’t. I didn’t even take it off the shelf.
So when I saw it when we went on our last library-date I decided to go ahead and pick it up. The library is low risk. It doesn’t speak to me and I return it, nothing lost.
Last night, after finishing the audiobook for Siege & Storm, I didn’t fancy anything heavy. I thought, “A book about basketball will be good.”
First surprise: it’s a novel in verse. In all the times I’d walked past it, I’d never cracked it open. Admittedly, I chose this book because of the cover.
Second surprise: It’s not a light story.
Josh and Jordan are seventh graders, ballers and the twin sons of a famous basketball player whose career was cut short. Josh, nicknamed Filthy McNasty after a character in a Horace Silver song, is a power forward and Jordan is a shooting guard. They’re the stars of their team. But when a new girl shows up at school and steals Jordan’s attention, Josh feels a bit abandoned. He has to deal with that, and the fact that their mother is the assistant principal, and that there’s something wrong with his father.
I loved the pacing of the verse and how Alexander used font size and formatting to distinguish between Josh’s storytelling and his hip hop. I found these shifts visually engaging; they changed the way I heard rhythm and meter in my head.
There’s also a nice balance of basketball with life. Alexander does a great job of connecting the game with real life and showing how Josh’s life isn’t all basketball and the importance of his relationships with people — his parents, his brother, his teammates, the girl his brother falls for.
As soon as I have a book budget again, this is going in my classroom library. And don’t be surprised if it shows up in a Feature Shelf sometime soon (when it does, there will be a link to that shelf in the Evernote file).
By the way, as I wrote this, I was totally listening to Horace Silver. Reminds me of high school (I have the album linked above, and I obsessively listened to Dee Dee Bridgewater singing Horace Silver songs)
Evernote file with more information about The Crossover http://bit.ly/ka-crossover