Review: Booked by Kwame Alexander
Source: ARC courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Publication: April 5, 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers
Twelve-year-old Nick is a soccer-loving boy who absolutely hates books. In this follow-up to the Newbery-winning novel The Crossover , soccer, family, love, and friendship take center stage as Nick tries to figure out how to navigate his parents’ divorce, stand up to a bully, and impress the girl of his dreams. These challenges-which seem even harder than scoring a tie-breaking, game-winning goal-change his life, as well as his best friend’s. This energetic novel-in-verse by the poet Kwame Alexander captures all the thrills and setbacks, the action and emotion of a World Cup match!
Poet and author Kwame Alexander won the Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Honor Award for his critically-lauded middle grade novel-in-verse The Crossover. In his latest novel, Booked, also told in verse, Alexander turns his eye to twelve year old Nick: master talent at word play and soccer star who is also having major upheavals in other areas of his life.
Nick has a few great things going on in his life: his soccer playing, his strong relationship with his Ping Pong playing mom, his loyal best friend Coby, the mentorship of a most fascinating librarian, and the possible interest of a classmate named April. On the flip side Nick has: a linguistics professor dad he can’t really understand (who makes Nick read his own authored dictionary), a few horrible classmates who physically and verbally bully him and Coby, and the hard realization that his parents marriage might just be over. In luminous and impressively constructed fashion that tackles a serious array of subjects, Alexander takes readers on an unputdownable journey with Nick as he navigates his way through some major, major highs, and serious lows. At once a story about sports, a young boy’s first steps into love, dealing with bullies, racism, standing up for friends, and coming to grips with parents as individuals, Booked is a full read; vivid and unforgettable- not to mention a brilliant study in how an author can play with form and language.
Overall, Booked is…flawless. Having had a hot and cold relationship with novels told in verse, I was both excited and terrified to read this work. Any doubts I had about how seamless, affecting and electrifying verse novels could be, were completely obliterated with this read. I read Booked in just about one sitting (sadly, life got in the way), and it is a joy of a reading experience. Readers looking for a meaningful, unrepeatable read, or those looking for a contemporary middle grade read revolving around family, sports, learning about love and growing up- I highly recommend giving Booked a try.
I received a copy of this title courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.