Book Review: Solo by Kwame Alexander & Mary Rand Hess

Solo by Kwame Alexander & Mary Rand Hess
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Blink
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
ISBN: 978-0310761839
Source: BEA 2017 ARC
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From award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Kwame Alexander, with Mary Rand Hess, comes Solo, a YA novel written in poetic verse. Solo tells the story of seventeen-year-old Blade Morrison, who knows the life of a rock star isn’t really about the glitz and glamour. All the new cars and money in the world can’t make up for the scathing tabloid covers or the fact that his father is struggling with just about every addiction under the sun—including a desperate desire to make a comeback and regain his former fame. Haunted by memories of his mother—who died when Blade was nine—and the ruin his father’s washed-up legacy and life have brought to the family, Blade is left to figure out life on his own. But, he’s not all alone: He’s got the friendship of a jazz-musician mentor, Robert; the secret love of a girlfriend, Chapel; and his music.

All may not be well in the Morrison home, but things are looking up for Blade, until he discovers a deeply protected family secret—one that further threatens his relationship with his family and has him questioning his own identity. Thrown into a tailspin, Blade decides the only way he will understand his past and begin his future is to find out the truth behind the music and himself. He soon sets out on a journey that will change everything he thought to be true. His quest lands him in Ghana, stuck in a village just shy of where answers to the secret can be found. There, Blade discovers a friendship he couldn’t have imagined, a people founded in family and community, and a reconciliation he never expected.

With his signature intricacy, intimacy, and poetic style, Kwame Alexander explores what it means to finally come home.

***

If you’re looking for a beautiful story in verse that travels from Los Angeles to Ghana and explores what it means to be home, you definitely have to check out Solo. This novel follows Blade, son of a drug addicted rock and roll celebrity. Blade has never felt quite at home in his life of luxury, as the luxury was never able to fill what was truly missing. A heart to heart connection with his family. Throughout the novel, we do get to see the different relationship dynamics between father and son, sister and brother, and so on, and how money and fame plays into not only the relationships among themselves but amongst the world and within themselves. All that glitters is not gold.

Being the child of a celebrity is not always what it’s cracked up to be. For Blade, he witnesses his father in a state of grief that lasts for years, drugs playing a huge part in the rift between the two. Aside from this, Blade deals with infidelity for seemingly the first time in his love life, and it’s just one more huge dent in the rock that hits his world. This rock forces Blade to re-examine who to trust, how to trust, how to forgive, how to love.

Through music and traveling to better get to know himself and the life he’s meant to live, we go on quite a journey with Blade…a journey that’s more than coming of age because he’s not just wise for his age but has experienced so much more than the average kid for his age. So, there’s a lot of baggage for Blade to deal with but he deals. He doesn’t run away, he runs towards. He wants to figure this out. Watching him figure it out (not all but enough for this point in his life) is something I think so many young readers will read at just the right moment in their lives and that feeling, that is priceless. So be sure to pick up your copy to read and/or give to a teen who needs a book like this.

Favorite Chapter:

The heart (is a small and lonesome place)

Favorite Lines:

Blade, if there is no destination, why take the journey?

She is everything I never expected her to be. And hoped she could be. And prayed she would be.

Blade, you cannot build a house for last year’s summer.

Solo by Kwame Alexander & Mary Rand Hess is available now.

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