by Kwame Alexander. Andersen Press, 9781783447206. £7.99
Shortlisted for the CLiPPA 2019
A prequel to Kwame Alexander’s successful verse novel The Crossover (Andersen Press £7.99 9781783443673). Here he uses the form to give voice to the feelings of Charlie Bell as he deals with grief following his father’s death, alongside his changing relationships with friends and family. These deep concerns intermingle with his pursuits and desires such as discovering the comics his father read as a boy, reflected in the verses incorporated in comic strips interspersed throughout the novel, and wanting fashionable sneakers in which to play basketball ‘Why can’t/my mother/understand/that the shoes /are not just/for my feet/but my heart,/too?’ The rhythm and energy of the poetry often reflects the fast-paced play in basketball which is central to the novel although Kwame Alexander uses a variety of poetic forms to vary the pace of the narrative and express emotion. These include nonets, concrete poetry, dialogues, lists and rhyming couplets.