Book Review: Booked by Kwame Alexander

Note: This review is part of the 2016 Summer Reading Diversity Spotlight.

Booked by Kwame Alexander
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary, Poetry, Sports
ISBN: 978-0544570986
Source: Library
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Twelve-year-old Nick is a soccer-loving boy who absolutely hates books. In this follow-up to the Newbery-winning novel The Crossover, soccer, family, love, and friendship take center stage as Nick tries to figure out how to navigate his parents’ divorce, stand up to a bully, and impress the girl of his dreams. These challenges—which seem even harder than scoring a tie-breaking, game-winning goal—change his life, as well as his best friend’s. This energetic novel-in-verse by the poet Kwame Alexander captures all the thrills and setbacks, the action and emotion of a World Cup match!

After reading The Crossover last summer, I knew that I wanted to feature Kwame Alexander’s work on the blog again so I’m so excited today to be talking about his latest, Booked which I actually loved even more!

Booked is a story about a kid navigating his way through eighth grade, as he clings onto what he loves (soccer), discovers a new love (girls…one in particular), and has the love he has at home split into two when his parents make the decision to separate. I loved everything about this story, even the brief moments when the focus was soccer (I’m not into soccer) and was taken on quite the journey. I laughed at times. Other times, my stomach twisted when I could relate all too well. I rooted for Nick all the way through and was so pleased to see his continuous fight for happiness.

This story is told in verse and what I love about Kwame Alexander’s work is that it is has such a beautiful rhythm to it, calculated and so fluid. There’s nothing I hate more than reading a book that claims to be in verse but has no rhyme or reason to it and is only slightly visually appealing but more than willing to try to be trendy or whatever. No. This is the real deal. He gets it. He lives and breathes poetry and it’s beautiful.

Through these words, I really enjoyed following Nick at home, at school, and everywhere in between. He was really well developed as were all of the characters – they all really jumped off the page and were so real to me. The relationship dynamics were on point and I really liked each arc and how things concluded in each relationship.

Nick comes to many realizations throughout the book, both on his own and through other people which is great to see because he does so with an open heart. There’s conflict and resolution everywhere and Nick wasn’t so laser focused on himself that he wasn’t able to see beyond himself. He’s still a kid so there is a gap here but he’s a smart kid with a big heart and it was just so satisfying to read.

The words in motion on these pages are a must read for everyone. Booked is fast paced and lyrical and lovely. Bonus points for second person POV. It’s everything you could want in a quick summer read. So pick this up asap. You’ll be so glad that you did!

Favorite Lines:

* you’ve become a pro at daydreaming while pretend-listening.

* Do me a favor and stop complaining about trying to be excellent.

* From your window you watch love and happiness sink like twins in quicksand

* The poems were cool. The best ones were like bombs, and when all the right words came together it was like an explosion.

* What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

* Being afraid is normal. The only fight you really have to win is the one against the fear.

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Booked by Kwame Alexander is available today.