December 7, 2017

solo

Solo

Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess

Pub. 2017

464 pgs.

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Novel-in-Verse

Summary / Review / TLDR / Recommended For / Issues / Themes / Grade


Summary

Seventeen-year-old Blade is sick of his charmed Hollywood life. The only son of Rutherford Morrison, a former rock star, he’s tired of being disappointed by his father’s repeated lapses both in judgement and into outlandish, even illegal, behavior. Ever since Sunny, Blade’s beloved mother, died years ago, his life has been spent with one nanny after another while his father attempted rehab. None of it has stuck.

The only light in Blade’s life is his girlfriend, Chapel. Although they’re forbidden from seeing one another by her father, they do what needs to be done to see each other, anxiously awaiting the time they can be a couple in the open. Until then, sneaking around is the order of the day.

But then the revelation of a long-kept secret rocks Blade’s world to its very core: his life, the life he’s always known, has been a lie. Shattered, he takes off for Ghana with a letter in his pocket and the name of a woman he’s never met: Lucy Diamond. With a little luck and a lot of courage, he hopes to find answers to what he’s always been missing.

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Review

How do I express
The beauty of reading
Solo?

The way the words
Leap into my eyes
Dive into the pool
Of my mind
And echo in my ears
Like a long-forgotten tune?

The story of a father
On the road to self-destruction
His only son a passenger
On the highway
To hell

The son’s love
Betrayed
By everyone he’s ever
Trusted

Father
Mother
Lover
Twisted into sorrow
Until there is only

Escape

The way the heart wrenches
As he screams his pain
Howling in the night
Backed by shrieking guitars
Like every broken heart song
Rolled into a single sound

The way Joy calls out
The foreigners eager to
Help
But never asking
What the town actually
Needs

The way characters
Assume
And make important
Decisions
Without consulting
Anyone
Who might actually be
Affected

Alexander and Hess
Weave their words
With a rhythm and flow
Down the page
Like Anansi himself
Spinning webs
Of tales

The wisdom they learn—
Rutherford to deal with
The haunting spectre of grief
Not by hiding in a bottle
By in the joy of music

Blade that family is
The people who love you
And to trust in that
Love once again

It might take them
A trip around the world
But I cried when they
Found the one thing
They were truly seeking:

Each other

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TLDR

Upon closing this book, I felt like I’d just shut the cover on 2017’s Printz winner.

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Recommended for…

  • People who love novels-in-verse
  • People who love music
  • Basically everyone

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Issues

  • Alcohol Use: characters drink at a big party
  • Death: character deaths are important plot points
  • Deceit: characters frequently trick one another
  • Drug Use: mention of illegal drug use
  • Lying: characters habitually lie to one another
  • Other Illegal Activity: characters engage in drunk driving
  • Shaming: some characters have an “Americans know best” mentality

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Themes

  • Acceptance
  • Alcohol Abuse
  • Death
  • Drug Abuse
  • Family
  • Friendship
  • Honesty
  • Identity
  • Overcoming Adversity
  • Physical Health
  • Romantic Love

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Grade

Main Character 2
Subcast 2
Setting Development 2
Exploration of Conflict 2
Satisfying Resolution 2
Consideration of Themes 2
Didactic Tone 2
Suspension of Disbelief 2
Imagery and Description 2
Compelling Storytelling 2
Author’s Style 2
Rhythm and Pace of Book 2
Mechanics (spelling, grammar, punctuation) 2
Predictability 2
Reader Enjoyment 2
Total 30/30
100%

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