January 5, 2018
I Just finished reading The Crossover. A 245 page poetry book by Kwame Alexander. He is a newbery winning author (and poet) of many children books. This book, in fact, has won the newbery award in 2015. He also started a literacy project called Book-In-A-Day, for kids (Mainly for higher elementary school grades through high school grades). This program is a one day introduction to creative writing and publishing. And it, “has created more than 3000 student authors in sixty-five schools across the United States, and in Canada and the Caribbean (239).” I read this book, at first because I needed some poetry pages for my 8000 page challenge. So when my friends started raving about it in the book group I was invited to at lunch, I thought it would be a good way to get those final pages in (Especially because I tend to think poetry is boring). This book definitely sparked my love for poetry. I thought, before, that poetry was really boring. But after reading this book, I realized it can be (And in the case of this book was) a wonderful way to express a story of deep emotion (which I liked). And, I plan to read more poetry in the future.
This book was focused in mainly on one character, Josh (or as he is known for the first half of the book, Filthy Mcnasty) and his crazy life as being a twin with a mom who is a principal, and a dad who was a professional basketball player. At first, Josh just wants to enjoy life, but his brother cuts his dreadlocks, one of his biggest showpieces, a part of him. So he felt very betrayed, and this is where his problems come into play. He wants to be with his brother, and play basketball like old times, but his brother is distracted by girls. So, he tries to talk to him. But Jb (His brother) doesn’t want to hear it and Josh eventually gets mad at him during a game. He hurts his brother and is penalized before the big game. He also finds out his father is sick and the bad eating habits could get him killed. On top of that he has all of the stress of his mom pounding on him to be good at school. If he doesn’t sort his life out, he will break down.
I noticed the way the author used irony and foreshadowing in the beginning(ish) of the book. Josh says, “Lately, I’ve been feeling like everything in my life is going right… I am a little worried thought because, as Coach likes to say, you can get used to things going well, but you’re never prepared for something to go wrong (100).” This is very ironic toward most of the following pages because basically, after this, Josh doesn’t feel like things are going right anymore, and they definitely don’t. His brother wont interact/ communicate with him, he is off the basketball team, he is feeling lonely, and he is generally unhappy. The foreshadowing aspect comes in at more of the second part of the quote (whereas the irony came in more at the first) because as previously mentioned, things start to go wrong. And for alexandar just to put this part in seems to give the reader a clue that something may go wrong.
The main character, Josh, has some hardships and troubles throughout this whole book. But what I don’t get is why he doesn’t help himself, he hurts himself. For his locks, he accepted the bet for his pride. He could have just said no, then he would have been able to keep his pride and joy. He was very upset with JB being obsessed with girls but after unsuccessfully trying to tell him, he decided to hurt him to make a point. Instead, he should have kept persisting and should have had his parents have a talk with him and his brother if that doesn’t work. Then with his dad’s eating and bad health, he should have helped his dad more with remaining in his boundaries and not pushing his limits. I’m not necessarily saying his father’s death was Josh’s fault, it was partly the whole family, and partly his fathers and partly luck, but Josh could have helped.
I don’t get why the author made the dad (Da Man) so irresponsible. Much of his death was his own fault. He ate so terribly. Doughnuts and other bad food. Plus he had a Bad Leg and a deadly condition. He was a basketball player, he must have known something about eating and being healthy. But he denies it and almost doesn’t want to hear it. He also doesn’t trust doctors. This is his main problem. I get why, because his dad died under the hands of doctors, but after a while this is kind of irrational. Especially, since his deadly condition can be treated and livable with doctors help.
In this scene, the boys’ (Josh and JB) dad just died and everyone is grieving. Josh is outside shooting free throws trying to get to his dads high score, 50. He is outside on number 49 when JB comes out and gives him his dad’s pro ring. This was always really important to Josh. JB even calls him “Da Man” which was his dads old nickname. As JB starts to leave Josh says,
“Hey, I shout
We Da Man
And when he turns around
I toss him the ball.
backs to the top of the key,
fixes his eyes
on the goal
leave his hands
like a bird
us (237). “
I really like how this is such a strong ending. I love the emotion it brings back to readers at the end with little words. I also love what it makes readers (at least what it made me) think about. All of the things that have happened to Josh, his father’s death, his brother’s ignoring him, they all went away with basketball. He was at peace and finally got what he wanted in the end.
I would rate this book an 8.5 out of 10 for a genius, heartfelt story about a some middle schoolers (something I can relate to).