I’ve been a fan of Kwame Alexander since I closed the cover of The Crossover a few years ago. I couldn’t wait to find some child to give the book to, and I’ve been handing it out ever since, including giving all outgoing 5th graders a copy of The Crossover to read over the summer. I’ve also gotten familiar with Mr. Alexander’s other works, including Booked and Surf’s Up (which is a wonderful picture book). So when I saw the opportunity to be a part of the launch team for he and Mary Rand Hess’ new book Solo, I knew I had to apply. A chance to read a new book AND share my admiration for Kwame Alexander with others? I’m in!
Solo, a book written in poetic verse, is about a young boy named Blade, the son of a rock star who loves to play guitar and is getting ready to graduate from high school. He thinks he has it together as much as any teenager can, he’s got a girlfriend he adores, a wealthy lifestyle, and college plans. Unfortunately, his plans go awry very quickly and very dramatically. So, some soul searching ends up sending Blade to Ghana, where he attempts to put pieces of his life back together.
My review of this book–I loved the poetic style. I always use that as a selling point when recommending to students, particularly reluctant readers, but I’ve grown to believe that it takes a special, specific talent to be able to tell a story well through poetry instead of normal dialogue. It allows for memorable language and quotes, many of which I wanted to highlight or circle while reading.
Also, as the authors state, this book was a love letter to rock n roll. A cool feature of this book was that they have different songs throughout the book and give a little history behind each one. There are even playlists to go along with the book.
I had strong feelings about many of the characters in the book, and for me that is also a good sign. Some I strongly disliked, others I was rooting for the whole time. Its the kind of story that makes you want to keep turning the page to see what’s going to happen or yell at the pages because you’re frustrated with the characters. The characters and the setting were both atypical, which made for an interesting mind movie for me while reading.
Recommended for: Alexander and Hess both said that the youngest reader for this book is 8th grade, which I completely agree with. In addition, I think this would be another great one for reluctant readers, especially music lovers. So even though I won’t be reading this book with my babies for quite some time, I still recommend this book to those of you have older kiddos. The book is officially released on August 1st, 2017, and you can go to: http://kwamealexander.com/solo/ for more information.