The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander, examines several familial and social struggles including health issues, brotherly feuds and issues of social anxiety. This easy-to-read, coming-of-age novel-in-verse story is told through several different free verse poems that, together, tell the life of Josh Bell and the obstacles that he overcomes as he enters his teenage years.
Josh’s father was a professional basketball player and Josh wants nothing more than to follow in his footsteps. Practicing several hours a day, crushing on a girl, and becoming a man are all inner battles Josh has to overcome. This appears to be more difficult for Josh than for his twin brother Jordan.
Throughout the novel, Josh relates the game of basketball to everyday life. “Basketball rule #5 / When / you stop / playing / your game / you’ve already / lost.” This quote is crucial in understanding the rest of the novel. Although the reader believes that Josh is simply talking about basketball, there’s a deeper, underlying meaning to this quote.
It’s fascinating how the Alexander does this several times within the short novel. The Crossover is relatable to those who come from low socioeconomic status, feud with their siblings, or have experienced loss within their families. While reading The Crossover, readers feel both nostalgic and humbled by the outcome reached at the end. The Crossover shows the importance of understanding other people’s perspective on the world, and reminds us that our views aren’t everyone else’s.
Reviewed by Megan Hockaday