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The Crossover

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"With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I'm delivering," announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he's got mad beats, too, that tell his family's story in verse, in this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood.

Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story's heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family.

245 pages, ebook

First published March 18, 2014

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About the author

Kwame Alexander

78 books2,728 followers
Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and New York Times Bestselling author of 21 books, including The Crossover, which received the 2015 John Newbery Medal for the Most Distinguished Contribution to American literature for Children, the Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor, The NCTE Charlotte Huck Honor, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, and the Passaic Poetry Prize. Kwame writes for children of all ages. His other works include Surf's Up, a picture book; Booked, a middle grade novel; and He Said She Said, a YA novel.

Kwame believes that poetry can change the world, and he uses it to inspire and empower young people through his PAGE TO STAGE Writing and Publishing Program released by Scholastic. A regular speaker at colleges and conferences in the U.S., he also travels the world planting seeds of literary love (Singapore, Brazil, Italy, France, Shanghai, etc.). Recently, Alexander led a delegation of 20 writers and activists to Ghana, where they delivered books, built a library, and provided literacy professional development to 300 teachers, as a part of LEAP for Ghana, an International literacy program he co-founded.

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5 stars
28,612 (49%)
4 stars
18,767 (32%)
3 stars
7,079 (12%)
2 stars
1,755 (3%)
1 star
1,162 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,957 reviews
Profile Image for Rick Riordan.
Author 259 books409k followers
August 22, 2018
I am late in reviewing this, but oh my goodness, what an amazing book. Kwame Alexander gives us a novel in verse -- a series of poems about twin brothers, JD and Jordan Bell, sons of a former pro basketball player, who are making their way through middle school as best they can -- navigating first crushes, homework, family tensions, and of course, basketball. I was in awe of Alexander's ability to tell such a rich, multifaceted story with so few words. Poetry is hard, at least for me, yet Alexander, like all great athletes and writers, makes the three-point shots look easy. You will laugh in this book, many times. You will also cry. You've been warned. You will want to know more about the characters' lives, but you will also put down the book with a satisfied sigh, knowing the ending was perfection. It's a quick read, even for a slow reader like me. I kept thinking, so many times, I wish I'd had this book when I was teaching in the 90s. My students would have devoured this -- the basketball players, sure, but everyone else, too.
Profile Image for Jane.
Author 30 books80 followers
February 9, 2015
Here's an experiment I'd like a teacher to try for me. Don't "teach" this Newbery Award winner. Instead, place a copy of Crossover on each student's desk before they enter the classroom. Maybe upside down and backward to make it a bit more tempting. And then wait to see what happens.

If the students say, "Do we have to read this?" answer, "I was curious whether anyone would want to." If they say, "What are we going to do with this book?" answer, "I thought I'd ask you that question." If they ask, "Is there going to be a test?" answer, "Do you think there should be?" If they ask, "What's it about?" answer, "Just about anything you want it to be about." And then wait to see what happens.

Maybe you could do a bit of action research. Count how many open it up, how many start acting up, how many keep chatting until they notice someone who doesn't usually read is getting caught up in its pages. Take notes on comments. You see, the book starts out,


At the top of the key, I'm
POPping and ROCKING--
Why you BUMPING?
Why you LOCKING?
Man, take this THUMPING.
Be careful though,
'cause now I'm CRUNKing
and my dipping will leave you
G on the floor, while I
to the finish with a fierce finger roll...
Straignt in the hole:

But each chapter uses a different style of poetry (oh please don't have the kids analyze it all!). There's cool white space for taking notes (it'd be so cool to give each class a different ink color and let them make notes in to to the others using the same copy but don't require it). There's themes of friendship and family and courage and sportsmanship and academics and fairness and more (but don't make them write a five-paragraph essay) it isn't just a basketball book. It's got something for everyone. Try it. And let me know what happens.

Profile Image for Brina.
933 reviews4 followers
December 2, 2016
Kwame Alexander's The Crossover won both the Newberry and Coretta Scott King Awards for children's literature in 2014. Combining beautiful prose with poetry that jumps off the page, Alexander tells the story of twin thirteen year basketball players Jordan and Josh Bell in a manner that makes reading fun for middle grade kids. Using basketball as a metaphor for life, Alexander imparts life lessons to adolescents in a non threatening way that has teachers reaching for his books.

Josh and Jordan "JB" Bell are the teen phenom sons of former superstar Chuck "Da Man" Bell and junior high principal Crystal Stanley-Bell. Josh is the better student, one inch taller, plays small forward, and aspires to go to Duke. Jordan attempts to emulate his idol Air Jordan, plays shooting guard like his namesake, and yearns to go to North Carolina. Both are all county players on their way to the big time. Their exploits on and off of the court are expressed through an emphatic onomatopoeia poetry that shows basketball as an art form.

In addition to basketball, Alexander leads the Bells through teenage angst in the form of JB's new girlfriend Alexis, which leads to a rift between JB and Josh. Both Bell parents impart vital life lessons to the twins, which are relayed to the reader in the form of basketball lessons and vocabulary words. Not only has Alexander made reading entertaining for young readers by invoking current stars, he has also succeeded in making an entertaining book educational.

Being an adult reader who loves sports, I read through this book in under an hour. The basketball as poetry in motion could be read out loud or in English classes, enabling teachers to encourage their students to write their own poetry. As I am on an ongoing quest to find quality literature for my children, Alexander's books seem like winners both in sports and life. Worthy of the Newberry and Coretta Scott King Award for quality African American literature, The Crossover merits 4.5 flying high stars. I will be looking for more of Kwame Alexander's books in the future.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
2,297 reviews
May 2, 2014
Dear Mr. Kwame Alexander, You've got some explaining to do, Mister. You are officially responsible for the first big Ugly Cry of 2014, and I am not really happy about it. Thanks for the foreshadowing that did NOTHING to prepare me for this book. You hear me? NO. THING. NOTHING. You better hope we never cross paths, because I will have a few words for you. That is all.
Profile Image for jv poore.
616 reviews213 followers
February 15, 2018
Cleverly captivating, presented in poetic form, I cannot believe how much this catchy story covers.

I knew it'd be great because I've seen it on students' desks and more recently on a few Goodreads' Want to Read shelves and students never steer me wrong when it comes to book recommendations.
Profile Image for Brandy Painter.
1,633 reviews251 followers
September 17, 2014
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

I have said before I don't love verse novels. Do you know what I love even less? Basketball. Not a fan. Not even a little bit. With those two things working against it, I really didn't want to read The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. But it's getting a lot of award buzz so I finally (rather petulantly) picked up a copy. Ahem. This book is AMAZING. I loved it. This is why we should always stretch ourselves to read even those things that we don't think are "our type" of books.

Josh Bell
is my name.
But Filthy McNasty is my claim to fame
Folks call me that
'cause my game's acclaimed,
so downright dirty, it'll put you to shame.
My hair is long, my height's tall.
See, I'm the next Kevin Durant,
LeBron, and Chris Paul.

Josh's voice. It is so perfect. The book isn't entirely blank verse, as you can see from the above. It is a combination of several different styles and types, but what they all have in common is Josh's voice. His voice which is so real, vulnerable, confused, cocky, angry, resentful, giddy, and everything that is perfect 13 year old boy. Josh is a star basketball player, twin to another star basketball player, son of a former basketball Olympian and a middle school assistant principal, and an eighth grader. Through each poem that tells of the few months of Josh's 8th grade basketball season, the reader is given a clear picture of Josh and every detail of his life, thoughts, and feelings. Few words are used but reams of information and emotion are conveyed. I could read and read it over and over and always find new things to be in awed of. I wanted to read it again promptly upon finishing and I haven't experienced that urge in quite some time. It's blowing my mind that I experienced it over a verse novel about basketball.

The book is about basketball. There's a lot of basketball in it. It is also a story about brothers, change, and the power of family. But don't let anybody tell you it's not a sports book. It is. And you know what? Even if you're not a sports fan, it doesn't matter. Excellence is excellence, and this book is excellent. The basketball is essential and provides a great deal of the metaphor in the book, but it is also really, like all MG books, a story about growing up, facing change, and how one's relationships alter and are affected by growing up (particularly when members of the opposite sex are involved). Josh's twin, JB, has a girlfriend for the first time. He's less interested in basketball and doing things with Josh. Josh is angry. Their father is clearly suffering from heart problems but refuses to go to the doctor. Josh is worried. All of this is set against the backdrop of the basketball season. It's a short read, but a powerful one.

The prose is excellent in terms of imagery and evoking thoughts and feelings. For example:
The gym is a loud crowded circus.
My stomach is a roller coaster.
My head, a carousel..
The air, heavy with the smell
of sweat, popcorn,
and the sweet perfume
of mother's watching sons.

I could quote so much, but then there would be no reason for you to go and find a copy of your own to read which you must do. Now.
Profile Image for Karen.
714 reviews65 followers
February 3, 2015
This one earned a whole extra star from me because it drew in one of my remedial readers...and he loved it...a book written in verse. And he came and asked for more books just like it-

Me: "You mean basketball books?"
Student: "No, ones with those poems in it."

Be still my heart. This child never likes to read anything.

That's worth five stars. That's worth a Newbery.
Profile Image for Mary Ann.
1,485 reviews279 followers
May 4, 2014
WOW oh WOW. When a book hits a sweet spot, it zooms from one student to another. As soon as I read the opening lines of The Crossover, with its basketball cover and bouncing rap beat, I just knew I had to read it aloud to my 5th graders. But nothing prepared me for how it hooked them. To say they are loving it is an understatement. Fifth grade boys are just about wrestling each other to see who's going to get it next--jostling each other over a novel in verse!

For Josh Bell, basketball and his family are everything to him. He pushes himself to excel, but he loves every minute he spends with the game--especially the way he plays it with his twin brother Jordan and his dad. Kwame Alexander captures Josh's voice and the power of basketball in a way that comes alive for my students. They love the rhythm and pulsing movement, the attitude and sass in Josh's words.

The power of this novel comes not only from Alexander's language but also from the characters and their emotions. As Josh and Jordan (JB) near the championship playoffs for their school's division, friction develops between the brothers and trouble is brewing with their father. Josh starts to resent the fact that JB is spending too much time with his new girlfriend. I love the relationship Josh has with his dad. They tease each other, push each other, question each other in a way that feels so real.

Alexander engages kids on so many different levels. I especially like the Basketball Rules that Josh's dad shares with his sons. How is basketball like life? That's something all sorts of kids can think about, in a way that takes layered meanings to a different level.
Profile Image for Calista.
4,075 reviews31.3k followers
May 15, 2018
Quick Read

This is really reading outside my normal subject matter. I rarely read anything with sports. This is a Newbery book and a Kwame book so I gave it a try. For such a compact story, it packs a punch. I have no understanding of a crossover and what it is, but it seems to be a special move in basketball. I loved the prose, I love the family dynamics. I loved the family players.

Wow, it really is a well done story about a family and their love of basketball. I love that the mother is a principle and she puts a high value on reading, obviously. I'm glad I stretched and read this. It was worth it.
Profile Image for Rincey.
818 reviews4,585 followers
June 17, 2016
I listened to this one on audiobook, which was a great way to experience this book since it is written in verse.
Profile Image for Lisa.
991 reviews3,320 followers
November 2, 2016
The Crossover, Newbery Medalist 2015, confirms the growing trend of novels in verse form, telling basic coming-of-age stories in short, free verse. This one follows exactly the same pattern as for example "The Weight of Water" or "Cloud Busting", slightly different from "Love That Dog" and "Hate That Cat", or "To Be Perfectly Honest", yet another one of those seemingly endless novels which claim to be deep because the language is broken into stanzas, sometimes rhyming, but most of the time just stretched. One sentence per page doesn't make poetry, though. A sentence that drips and falls to look like a ball on a basketball field is not that special. It is an exercice for higher Primary School students. Rubric: Make the words act out the content!

The Crossover is no different from other books in the genre, but it felt more exciting to read the first three or four, that dealt with more serious questions, such as how to make children understand the essence of poetry, slowly uncovering a painful story(Love That Dog), how to make transition during teenage life come alive, dealing with the feeling of being an outsider in a homogeneous environment (The Weight of Water), what is truth, what are lies (To be Perfectly Honest), or how to deal with friendship, inspiration and betrayal (Cloud Busting).

The Crossover has an obvious plot. We know from the very first line that the father suffers from a mortal disease, that the twin brothers will have a conflict while finding their place in the teenage world, that they are going to win in the end, because that is what their father expects of them. So predictable, it is almost unexpected!
Profile Image for Kathleen.
1,389 reviews115 followers
September 27, 2019
Newbury Medal 2015. Twin brothers Josh and JB are the stars on their middle school basketball team. Playing ball every night with their father, a former European league player, has bonded the three of them together. But the two boys are now 13 and things are changing, causing strains on the closeness they have always had with each other. Alexander has Josh tell the story with verse—and he does it brilliantly—particularly with his 10 Rules of Basketball:

Rule No. 1:
“In this game of life
your family is the court
and the ball is your heart”

Or Rule No. 10
“True champions
to dance
the storm”

Recommend for readers 9+.
Profile Image for Jasmine from How Useful It Is.
1,339 reviews350 followers
August 27, 2022
I finished my read for The Crossover and it's amazing! I'm tearing up at the ending of the book while walking on the treadmill at YMCA. I loved reading this book! The rhyming was fantastic. The humor was awesome. The family dynamic was the best. Basketball never sounds so good.

This story followed Josh, 12. He played basketball with his twin brother Jordan everyday. They were coached by their dad, who was famous for his basketball days. Their mom was the school's Assistant Principal. She kept the family in line, from success in school to healthy eating at home. Josh started acting out when his brother chose to spend his free time with his gf. His anger and events got him punished from playing basketball. Their dad showed symptoms of needing the doctor but refused to go. A basketball championship is coming and Josh wanted to play but his dad's life is in danger. He's still waiting for Jordan forgiveness. This story was wrapped up in Josh's dad's fun jokes. And I'm feeling for all of the characters that I'm crying on the treadmill now that the story ends.
Profile Image for Will Lanham.
17 reviews3 followers
May 24, 2018

This book was good. Like REALLY good. The characters are real and relatable to the reader, and you form connections with them thoughout the story. I won't spoil anything, but there is a FLOOD of emotion near the end. My only complaint is that the writing is strange and the story skips around a bit, but once you get used to the writing style and the hops in the story, you can fully enjoy this book. I would recommend this to anyone who likes poetry and to anyone who likes stories where you form connections with characters.
Profile Image for Donalyn.
Author 8 books5,948 followers
April 13, 2014
I love the rhythm and language of this novel in verse about twins who love basketball and their larger-than-life father, but don't always connect off the court.
Profile Image for Krista.
443 reviews1,061 followers
May 2, 2023
I enjoyed this better the second time I think. Loved the twin brother's relationship struggles. It felt so real.
Profile Image for Deacon Tom F.
1,863 reviews146 followers
August 8, 2022
Outstanding! THE CROSSOVER by Kwame Alexander is a dynamic and powerful book. As the title would indicate (to a basketball fan) the book focuses on basketball.

The plot which is told in verse is seen through the eyes of junior high school student, Josh and the different levels of relationship within his family. The family consists of twins who are junior high basketball stars, their dad was a professional player and h toheir mom who is a vice principal. A very strong family unit.

The characters are very interesting and believable. It also seems like every scenario teaches a positive lesson.
This is in spite of the book handling difficult coming of age and family issues. Just a few are: sibling rivalry, a bit of young love and the importance of wellness.

This short read is very fast-paced. Plus, the writing gives the reader a rhythm while reading.

A very strong good book that has my highest recommendation.
Profile Image for Britany.
992 reviews434 followers
March 8, 2018
I picked this up at the library sale and used it for a Popsugar prompt for a book about sports. This book was well outside my genre both in scope, and in audience. Sports is not something I'm generally interested in reading about.

Kwame Alexander is brilliant to use something as basketball to tie together poetry, free verse, and messages in a way that is accessible to all ages. This book is much more than just basketball. My heart found a special place for the Bell family including dad, who is a famous basketball player that is as stubborn as they come. Heartwarming and I could easily recommend to reluctant readers that are more interested in sports than books.

Good book, but ultimately felt like I was outside the demographic for this book. I also hate to admit that reading this did not make me enjoy sports any more than I did before.
Profile Image for leynes.
1,116 reviews3,034 followers
June 22, 2023
This book has the perfect ending. It totally made me sob. “I watch the ball leave his hands like a bird up high, skating the sky, crossing over us.” Gosh, I could cry again.

The Crossover is a novel written in verse about the 12-year old twins Josh and Jordan Bell. Even though I’ve enjoyed novels in verse in the past – I’m a particular fan of Acevedo’s work – this book wasn’t necessarily on my to-read list. I can’t quite recall the last time I read a proper middle grade novel, excluding for nostalgic rereads, of course.

I know there’s nothing wrong with reading books intended for younger audiences but they’re usually not my jam. However, as I consider myself to be my nephews present and future personal librarian I am always willing to give innovative books by Black writers a go, especially when they seem thematically fitting. And since my brother in law is a huge basketball head and it is highly likely that my nephew will grow up to be a basketball playing teen, I thought I would give this book a shot.

I used an Audible trial month to listen to the audiobook which is a mere 2 hours long. With most of the novels in verse that I read I tried to listen to them on audio first. It wasn’t always a success but generally I feel like these stories are meant to be read out loud. I really enjoyed the audiobook for The Crossover, it had the right intensity of emotion and captured the atmosphere of the novel as well as the inner feelings of its characters. I also got my hands on used copy of the hardback edition – I find the cover to be beyond ugly but the hardback is a beauty under the dust jacket, it’s designed to look like a basketball which is so dope. This is the copy I’ll be passing along to my nephew in a decade. Can you tell I’m the crazy aunt, lmao?

Anyways, in The Crossover, Kwame Alexander tells the story of Josh and JB. The twins are basketball legends at their school, definitely the stars of the school’s basketball team. They come from a family of ballers with their father having been a big shot until a disease cut his career short.

The story builds up to one of the most important matches of the twins’ lives, the championship final. But along the way tensions grow between the brothers (as JB gets a girlfriend and Josh feels neglected) and issues at home (his dad is having having severe health issues but wants to hide it from his sons) and school (their mom is the vice principal and not impressed with her sons’ antics at school and lack of interest in their subjects) add to the pressure.

It’s a heartwarming story that packs an unexpected emotional punch at the end. Like I said, when we got to the final poem about Josh attempting 50 free throws in a row I was full on sobbing. Kwame Alexander got me good!

Generally speaking, I’m not the biggest fan of his style of poetry. It’s very simplistic and straight forward. It totally makes sense for the audience he was writing for, 12-year old boys, and I’ve read many reviews of happy parents who said that this is one of the few books their kids ever read front to back, so I’m not complaining about it, I’m just saying it didn’t do much for me. There are very few quotes that I clipped during my listen of the audiobook, a notable exception is Josh’s ‘Ode to my hair’:
If my hair were a tree 
I’d climb it.

I’d kneel down beneath 
and enshrine it.

I’d treat it like gold
 and then mine it.

Each day before school
 I unwind it.

And right before games
 I entwine it.

These locks on my head,
 I designed it.

And one last thing if
 you don’t mind it:

That bet you just made?
It’s a beautiful testimony to Black boys’ hair, gives Josh’s character more depth and with the last two lines also manages to move the story forward. The rhymes are nothing special, of course, but I still really enjoy and appreciate the poem.

I will definitely reread this book in the future, then in the physical form, and I’m sure I will mark more quotes and moments then … so until now, that’s all I got for you! Definitely get this book if you have a young (Black) teen at home or in your life. There’s also a TV adaptation of it but I haven’t seen it, so I can speak to its quality.
Profile Image for Sarah (YA Love).
666 reviews270 followers
February 4, 2015
Review originally posted on YA Love

Newbery contenders aren’t often on my radar since I teach high school students, so the fact that I read two out of the three books blew my mind. I was sitting in my pajamas watching the live stream since we had a snow day and I threw up my arms and cheered when The Crossover was announced as the winner.

Kwame Alexander’s newest release has been on my radar for quite some time for many reasons despite its younger audience. I adore novels written in verse and have been waiting to find one that appeals to boys. The Crossover is the book I’ve been waiting for. It doesn’t matter if I’m teaching freshmen or seniors, the boys in those classes often want to read a book with a story line revolving around sports. The fact that I can now offer them a “sports book” that’s written in verse is really exciting. The Crossover will hopefully be the exposure to verse novels that these students need.

Speaking of the verse, Kwame Alexander’s verse impresses me just as much as Lisa Schroeder’s does. It’s rhythmic and smooth and even visually appealing. The verse in Brown Girl Dreaming is beautiful, but the writing in The Crossover bowled me over. It’s playful, it’s poignant, and at times it even rhymes. It’s a prime example of why I love novels written in verse.

In years past I’ve noticed that many of the books honored at the ALA Youth Media Awards aren’t always books that my students will immediately gravitate to. The books honored this year are more accessible. The Crossover may have won the Newbery, and Josh may be a twelve year old character, but this story is one that appeals to a wide range of readers young and old. Many readers will connect with Josh and his close relationship with his twin brother. Readers will empathize with Josh as he faces the dilemma of choosing between family and sports. As he realizes how truly important family is. I can’t wait to share this with my students.
12 reviews
November 1, 2017
I thought this book was very relatable, by that I mean how things change as you grow up. It made me to want to keep reading and never to put it down. Overall a great book,
Profile Image for Stephanie  Weatherly.
346 reviews10 followers
October 4, 2016
Definitely a book that I will recommend to my middle school students. I loved the format of the book, and the relationships that formed between characters. While the book had basketball weaved in, it wasn't overwhelming or all about the sport. Quick read that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Profile Image for Ken.
Author 3 books969 followers
May 8, 2016
This winsome novel in verse should appeal to reluctant-reading boys in a big way. Kwame Alexander mixes up the stanzas and styles, giving us the Bell family -- patriarch and ex-hoops great Chuck "Da Man" Bell, his wife Crystal (also a middle school principal), and his twin sons, Jordan "JB" and Josh "Filthy McNasty."

Yeah, they love basketball and most of the poems swish through that net, but there are also pages dedicated to family, to their senses of humor, to JB's first love (with a girl Josh calls "Miss Sweet Tea"), to Dad's declining health, to the boys' in-fighting at home. Alexander embeds some lessons about life, too (mostly inconspicuous), plus some vocabulary words -- words that get their own poems.

You might find it a touch didactic but, overall, it engages and invites the reader into the family in such a way that they won't care about lessons being driven home. They'll be too busy enjoying the book Overall, a winner for sports-loving kids -- even if they're poetry-phobic!
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,747 reviews5,293 followers
September 2, 2019
I'd been meaning to read something from Kwame Alexander for what felt like forever, so I'm glad to finally have picked up some of his work. Unfortunately, I wasn't a huge fan of this one! I 100% appreciate the perspectives it offered and the story it told, but the writing lost me time and time again. I read a fair amount of middle grade and I love novels told through verse, so it wasn't either of those things messing with me — I just kept feeling like The Crossover tries a little too hard to be something it's not.

It isn't a funny or "cool" story, yet the writing seems to constantly remind us that it wants to be. It's a pretty tragic tale and most of it is heavy, whether it's about fearing for your loved one's health or dealing with anger issues and loneliness, or just fighting with your family. While the heaviest and worst times in Josh's life are occurring, he's cracking jokes and obsessing over basketball instead of facing them head-on, and I don't think that's a great example to show, honestly. 2.5 stars rounded up for this one.
Profile Image for Brierly.
155 reviews105 followers
August 23, 2018
Went into this one expecting a quick middle grades read and oh, I am crying now.

The Crossover is a novel-in-verse about Josh, a.k.a. Filthy (narrator) and his twin brother Jordan (J.B.), junior high school students who both love basketball. Basketball jargon throughout the narrative doubles as narrative detail; for example, the titular crossover is not only a basketball maneuver, but also significant phrasing within the story.

A brief, poignant read that provides an unique poetry experience for just about any middle grades reader. Recommended for educators.
Profile Image for Christy.
3,919 reviews33k followers
December 23, 2022
4 stars

This story was written beautifully in verse. Another hard hitting middle-grade about Josh and his twin brother Jordan. Focuses on basketball and family, and the ending had me in tears.
Audio book source: Hoopla
Story Rating: 4 stars
Narrators: Corey Allen
Narration Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Middle Grade
Length: 2h 16m

Profile Image for Elizabeth.
Author 38 books3,008 followers
May 7, 2015

I am not much of a fan of verse novels because I am a crabby jealous person. I pretty much have to write three times as many words to produce a book this thick and I bet it takes three times as long. I look at all that white space on the page and I feel: RESENTMENT.

So that means that I bring a big bucket of bile to the book party before it even starts, and it is a measure of how excellent a book this is that I really loved it.

I loved the characterization, I loved the careful weaving of the themes and metaphors throughout the novel, and now that I think about it, this weaving is in some ways best expressed in poetry. I wasn’t a fan of the many different type sizes in the rap sections, but hey, whatever, I bet it works for the teen readers.

I liked the combination of myth with reality. I liked the contrast of the twins, their closeness and their separation, the accidental pain they inflicted on each other and their genuine regret and their ultimate ability to forgive. (Really quite classical in its elegant set-up.) I liked seeing it through Josh’s eyes, sympathizing with him, knowing it was going to be too much for him to deal with because it was too much for ME to deal with. I like their wealth and their color and the fact that neither of these things matters much either in their society or to the reader. They have EARNED their respected place in the world. I liked that the basketball champion dad was actually a European champion, playing for Italy, not some NBA star, although it in no way diminishes people’s respect for him. I liked the empowered mother – DOCTOR Bell, the Assistant Principal, forced and ABLE to mete out real discipline – but also vulnerable – kingly in her authority.

I’m sorry, this is going all FISHER KING ON ME.

And her wounded, invisibly dying husband, still respected and admired as a champion despite his crippling – OMG HE HAS TO QUIT BECAUSE HE HAS A KNEE INJURY.


It’s very good.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Karina.
851 reviews
April 22, 2022
[CHUHR-LISH] adjective

Having a bad temper, and being difficult to work with.

As in: I don't understand
how I went
from annoyed
to grumpy
to downright

As in: How do you apologize
to your twin brother
for being churlish--
for almost
his nose? (PGS. 142-143)

YA- John Newbery Medal 2014
Coretta Scott King Award

I don't think I am a fan of reading in poetic verse. I have tried it before and I din't like that book either. This YA is out of my comfort zone as in the way it is written and I don't care for sports but my son read it and recommended it. He actually liked Alexander's other book called "Booked" better than this one.

I am trying to read more Newbery winning books and I will say that most have been disappointing but I am not the judge and I don't know what they are looking for that year.

Lucky for me I read this in one sitting. Very easy read and unique and I know I am not the target audience. It is very good to see kids with a book in their hands regardless of the title... (Weeeelll....) Lol.

The story itself was okay. The ending was sad but didn't enhance my like.
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Author 6 books933 followers
November 21, 2016
Crossover took me completely by surprise. It’s a middle grade read that a really good friend turned me on to. It’s a story written in verse, and starts out slow, but when it gets going, it just keeps picking up steam. Although it was written for middle schoolers, I think anyone who likes a good story would love it. Kwame Alexander does a great Job of developing the main and secondary characters in this short easy read. Alexander tells the story of 12-year-old Josh, a phenomenal basketball player, who’s feeling the bumps of life, including sibling rivalry (He has twin who is also a good ball player) and tragedy. There are also life lessons delivered in ways that aren’t preachy and apply to all. This one gets my highest recommendation and five stars, easy.
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