Letter Essay #7 – Peter Martinich – The Crossover


Peter Martinich

Mr. Jockers

Period 6 – ILA

April 20, 2018

The Crossover

I have recently finished reading the 379 page novel The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, who is now a New York Times ok Bestselling offer. This book was given the John Newbery Medal award, as wellas the Caldecott Medal, for the amazing way its poetic style sets for an emotional roller coaster of a story.

I had decided to read this novel because of its numerous accounts from my peers of being “such an amazing book,” or, “its different style of writing.” I could not help but pick it up, and never put it down, as it took me a very short amount of time to read it (besides the fact it is a poem book with a very limited amount of words per page). But an overall, truly inspiring story.

The story starts out with giving a brief explanation of its person of main focus; Josh Bell a 12 year old with a deep passion for basketball, that he also shares with his brother JB, an iconic duo on their local basketball team that dominates throughout the book. A passion sparking from their ex-professional basketball player father, Chuck; but their passion can also get in the way of their relationship, especially as a girl comes into JB’s life. Josh can’t stand the fact that his brother  ignores and doesn’t spend any time with him because of some girl. After a ridiculous sibling dispute over a silly bet, conflict between the brothers begins to grow, more and more. And then Chuck begins to feel ill, as heart failure symptoms begin to start, more dispute continues to increase within the Bell family, and their hectic lives must be dealt with…

I absolutely loved the way the author had structured and written this story. Besides the fact it has the incredible touch of a poetic genius, the way he is able to capture so much of the story, as well as a ton of emotions, is remarkable. Feelings and thoughts kept flying through my mind and my body as I read this book. One part that definitely caught me eye was:


“I am not

A mathematician–

a + b seldom

equals c.

Pluses and minuses,

we get along

but we are not close.

I am no Pythagoras.


And so each time

I count the locks

of hair

beneath my pillow

I end up with thirty-seven

plus one tear,

which never

adds up (Page 43).”


The way he illustrates Josh’s feelings towards JB’s bet of cutting one of his locks off, and how angered he is, is truly an incredible force, that washes down upon the reader, as it does on Josh. The connection built between the reader and the characters is a strong one.

This leads me into my next point; the character development in this book is one of the best I have seen. The part after Josh becomes angered enough to throw a pass to at JB to make his nose bleed, his mom gives Josh a lesson, more importantly, a punishment, that will most likely stick with Josh for a long time, especially as it gets close to playoffs:


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 makes this such a powerful piece of the character development is the fact that it is so realistic. A classic Mom-Son discipline conversation, one that almost all adolescent boys have. It makes that connection so much deeper on a whole other level.

My favorite passage was definitely the ending. One that I will for sure never forget, and treasure for a long time:

“Hey, I shout.

We Da Man.

And when he turns around

I toss him the ball.


He dribbles

back to the top of the key,

fixes his eyes

on the goal.

I watch

the ball

leave his hands

like a bird

up high,

skating the sky,


crossing over

us (page 237).”


The author’s ability to tie in a “crossover,” which they explain what it is in the story (a Crossover dribble is a basketball maneuver in which a player dribbling the ball switches the ball rapidly from one hand to the other, to make a change in direction). It comes up often as it is the title of the story, the special move Josh always uses in all of his basketball games, and the final words to this beautiful story. It all comes together. Overall, I will rate this book as an 8 out of 10, for being a truly extraordinary story. One I would recommend to all to read.


Peter Martinich


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

9 thoughts on “Letter Essay #7 – Peter Martinich – The Crossover

  1. Dear Peter,

    Thanks for sharing your Letter Essay. It was fun to read and your writing was great. My favorite part was when you described the author and his writing techniques. I think you read the book really closely, allowing you to notice what he did. After reading this Letter Essay, I want to read The Crossover as well.

    Thanks for Sharing,


  2. Dear Peter,

    This was a really well-written letter essay! You had lots of detail and in-depth thinking. I liked how you included a lot of examples from the text to prove your ideas. Using lots of examples also gives the reader more of an idea of what the book is like. You did a good job of showing the reader how much you liked this book and making them want to read it as well.


  3. Hey Marty, I really liked your letter essay. I think that this sounds like a great book for you, considering your passion for the sports you play…including basketball. I think that you do a very good job of using quotes. Breaking down quotations so well and thoroughly is a skill that I wish I had. Really nice job on this!

  4. Hey Peto,

    I really liked the way you constructed this letter essay, I definitely agree with Tessa on the fact that this book was great for you and your compelling love towards sports. This book won the Newberry in 2015, so I think that probably drew you inward even more. Keep on writing great essay’s!


  5. Hey Peter,

    Really great letter-essay! I understand your thinking in your letter-essay because I also had read The Crossover too. Your writing gives me a completely new perspective on the book; I didn’t think as deeply as you when I had read this book. I too, as others who commented before me, think that your examples from the text were very effective in illustrating your ideas. Your writing is very engaging and your analyzation thoughtful. Great letter-essay!

    Jason V

  6. Dear Peter,

    Thank you for sharing your letter essay with me. It is interesting to see how you wrote your essay and how you explained different things. Earlier in the year, I wrote a letter essay to the same book and posted it to the blog. The book is very easy, but it is good to take morals away from. Anyway, I liked your summary because you didn’t use the traditional Somebody, But, So, Then that we learned. It was nice to see how you approached summarizing the novel. Thanks.

    -Reed Cooper, Helen Keller Middle School, Easton, CT.

  7. Peter:
    Great letter-essay. I’ve been directed from others (students, colleagues, my wife) for a year or so now to read this book. So, what do I do? I read the other one: Booked, which I liked, but have heard is not as good as The Crossover, which I will read at some point (I’ve said that before). It’s not easy to analyze a book of poetry but you were obviously thinking deeply about the words the author was using. Nicely done.
    Mr. Jockers

    p.s. It’s good to know that mothers are still disciplining their sons in real life. Hopefully the fathers are, too.

  8. Dear Peter,

    I’m glad that you liked this book and wrote your letter essay on it. I also loved the story of Josh and JB. So much so, actually, that I wrote one of my Letter essays on it. I noticed you mentioned a part in the story where Josh gives JB a bloody nose during basketball. I Agree that it was a good mother-son disciplin moment, and it did set up alot of the rest of the story, but i think that the author should have done this in a different way. I think that having it happen during basketball doesn’t make sense. I mean passing the ball to your teammate is how you play the game. Even if it was a little surprising or forcefull, it was a pass. and, how would his parents know it was purposfull if he just passed it hard. Most people would just think of that as an accident on the court. I feel the author should have incorperated Josh’s punishment in a different way. Anyway, i’m glad you shared your work with the blog.


  9. Dear Peter,

    I have heard so many recommendations for this book, but have hesitated because I had no clue what it is about. With your awesome essay and the book being great I will defiantly give it a read


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *