Letter Essay #5 (Reed Cooper); The Crossover

Reed Cooper

Mr. Jockers

English Period 6

February, 2018

Letter Essay #5 (Reed Cooper);

The Crossover

Image result for the crossover

Recently, I finished reading The Crossover, a 237 page poetry novel written by Kwame Alexander. Alexander is a writer of poetry and children’s fiction. The Crossover has won the Newbery Honor Medal. Kwame Alexander is the recipient of several other awards, some of which include: The Coretta Scott King Author Honor, The Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Prize, Three NAACP Image Award Nominations, The NCTE Charlotte Huck Honor, and the 2017 Inaugural Pat Conroy Legacy Award. I chose to read this book because I was in search of a Newbery Honor book for English class. It just so happens that the book was really fun to read. There are many lessons taught to the main character, but also to the reader throughout the book.

The Crossover follows the life of a 12 year old boy named Josh Bell. The book is about Josh and his brother, and how their love for basketball brings them together as siblings, but also pushes them apart. The boy’s love for basketball came from their Dad Chuck Bell, a former basketball superstar. Chuck is a real inspirational and admirable figure to the boys and they both want to become like him. Josh and JB’s tight bond starts to vanish when JB gets a girlfriend. Josh is upset and feels abandoned by the lack of time they spend with each other. After losing a bet with his brother, he is forced to cut his precious dreadlocked hair. This only creates more conflict between the two brothers. The Crossover starts to take a tragic turn when the reader is informed that Chuck Bell’s health is not as great as it used to be. Josh’s beloved Dad endures strokes, terrible nosebleeds, and coughs up blood. As a result of all the anger about his father and broken relationship with his brother, Josh decides to releases his anger at JB . . . on the court, which only causes more disturbance between the family. All the reader can do is hope that this broken family is able to piece their lives back together.

I was surprised when Alexander wrote:

Your decision not to have surgery

Means that realistically,

With patella tendonitis,

You may not be able to play


again,” (P. 47)

What really surprised me about this quote was that Kwame Alexander wanted Josh’s only idol to have difficulty with his health, which could possibly send the family down a long road of grief, if worse came to worst. I was also confused as to why Alexander would write this in. Is this meant to be a bigger idea? Is this supposed to make the boys think differently? He was writing in conflict to the boy’s biggest inspiration without him even leaving a big imprint on their lives regarding the game of basketball.

“And even though we’ve seen Dad
wear it many times,

actually holding his glossy championship ring

in our hands

is more than magical.” (P. 45)

This admiration towards their father’s accomplishment informs us that the two boys really do see their dad as an admirable and inspirational figure. That is why I was surprised when Kwame Alexander tried to write in conflict concerning Chuck Bell.

The theme in The Crossover is family. The book revolves around events and issues that occur within the family, and how they affect Josh in and outside of school.

“Well, our family has a history

of heart problems . . .

so we’re going to start eating better.

Especially Dad. And we’re going to

start tonight with

some hummus and

pita bread” (P. 97).

When Josh’s Mom tells the family this, it will affect how Josh will play on the court, as well as how he will interact with the rest of his family. Although this was a negative event in the eyes of Josh, it still revolves around the theme of family because it is a decision that came from the wellbeing of the family. This quote hints at a bigger issue of Josh’s dad’s health issues, which is when the family is going to need each other most.

“Grabs chest

Eyes roll

Ball drops

Dad drops

I scream

‘Help, please’” (P. 195). This also makes Josh upset and angry that the ‘healthy eating’ hasn’t helped his father. Family is an ongoing theme that is demonstrated throughout the course of the novel.

The main character in The Crossover, Josh Bell, is too attached to his brother, JB. When growing up, he and his brother were always very close and both shared similar interests; they did nearly everything together and both love the game of basketball. The reader starts to realize Josh is too attached to his brother when JB gets a girlfriend, and he starts hanging out with Josh less and less.

“Dad, this girl is making

Jordan act weird.

He’s here, but he’s not” (P. 91)

The reader can really tell how jealous Josh is of Jordan in this quote. He is upset that his own brother isn’t spending time with him. This also connects back to the theme of family because it deals with issues that occur within the family and possible future solutions for them. Josh Bell is letting a little difference between his brother and himself take over his emotions and his overall attitude and respect towards Jordan.

“[I] fire a pass

so hard,

it levels him,

the blood

from his nose” (P. 134).

This is when Josh purposely throws the basketball at JB’s face and almost breaks his nose . . . all because he isn’t used to the feeling of disconnection between him and his brother. That is how the Josh bell is too attached to his brother.

I felt a sense of closure when I read this passage, when Josh’s Mom is telling him the consequences of throwing a ball at his brother’s face. Alexander writes:

Your behavior was unacceptable.

I said I’m sorry.


Indeed you did. But you need to tell your brother, not me.

I will.


There are always consequences, Josh.

Here it comes: Dishes for a week, no phone, or, worse

No Sundays at the Rec.

[. . .]

Boys with no discipline end up in prison.

Yeah, I heard you the first time.


Don’t you get smart with me and end up in more trouble.

Why are you always trying to scare me?


We’re done. Your dad is waiting for you.

Okay, but what are the consequences?


You’re suspended.

From school?


From the team.

. . . ” (P. 141).

What made me feel a sense of closure in this passage was that Josh would finally suffer the consequences of deliberately injuring his brother. I agree with Josh’s mom’s decision of suspending him from the team because what he did was wrong and does deserve a punishment. I also liked how the author put an ellipsis symbolizing that Josh didn’t have a response. He was always so quick to answer his mom before, but when she told him he would no longer be playing on the basketball team, he was speechless (and not in a good way). It also hints at future conflict between him and his mom in an sense that Josh might try and reason with his mom. I am glad I read this book. The Crossover is a 5 out of 10.


Reed Cooper


Here is Kwame Alexander reading a passage from The Crossover and the thinking behind his writing.

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10 thoughts on “Letter Essay #5 (Reed Cooper); The Crossover

  1. Reed,

    This was really good. I really appreciated the way you questioned and thought about the book. It showed a deeper level of thinking with a book, that is sometimes hard to accomplish (especially in poetry). I also really liked how you added various quotes from the book. It helped direct your thinking and explain it. The one thing I would say, is try to go deeper with your thinking. You didn´t describe much about what you were personally thinking enough for me to really understand what you were thinking. Great Job


  2. Hey Reed,

    I really enjoyed your letter essay! I also read Crossover and I think that you did a great job analyzing the book. I also think that you did a great job supporting your thinking with evidence. Your paragraph about the theme of family was supported well by your evidence. I thought the quotes you used were powerful and also showed what the author’s writing was like. You noticed things in the book, such as “He was always so quick to answer his mom before, but when she told him he would no longer be playing on the basketball team, he was speechless (and not in a good way).” I had never noticed that when reading the book.

    Jason Viani

  3. Reed,

    I would just like to say WOW! Even though you rated The Crossover a 5 out of 10… I think I would really like to read this book, though I’m not into sports but because of this so called silence problem Josh Bell has. This brings the book together. I’m also thinking due to the cover and the passage… this book talks in poems, which is really special I believe this book can captivate readers just by the awkward silence JB has. Try to find a book that you really like and can rate it higher than 5!

    ~Elisabeth Berg

  4. I really liked how you used parts of the book to summarize the story. It showed me what the book is like so good job.

  5. Reed,

    I really liked how your letter essay and how it included your honest opinion on your book. You convinced me to read The Crossover even after you rated it a five out of ten.

  6. Hey Reed,

    I’m sitting right next to you right now, but anyways, thank you for sharing your letter essay with me. It is very good. I liked how you included examples from the book, outside of the part where you needed to include the passage. For example, you quoted,

    “Your decision not to have surgery

    Means that realistically,

    With patella tendonitis,

    You may not be able to play

    again,” (P. 47)

    This helped portray what you were thinking and shows what you were trying to say that the author did. One thing that you could add, is ask the reader more questions to get them thinking and keep them hooked. Your letter essay was very good!



  7. Dear Reed,

    Overall great letter essay. I was very impressed with the way you were able to explain a general concept of all three point of views, which I know can get tricky when there is multiple perspectives, just like in IT. And I love that passage too. It sends a great message to the reader, how it is better to advocate and get yourself out there, even the slightest bit, rather than stay behind in the shadows where, yes you can not do no harm, but no one can help either. Seems like a tremendous book, and will probably end up reading it myself.


    Peter Martinich

  8. Dear Reed,

    This was a great Letter Essay. First off, I really liked how you added not one, the minimum quote, but three inserted quoted passages from your chosen novel above. This method you used really provided insight on Josh and his brothers’ character, hopefully and I believe for the better. It caught me at the end, when you stated and rated this book, Crossover, a 5 out of 10. According to your previous reviews on the author and the book within your Essay, I thought you’d write it up as something different when judging it at the end. Good job.

    – Isabel Prentice

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