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Review: Solo by Kwame Alexander

Title: Solo
Author: Kwame Alexander
Year Published: 2017

Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 457 (written in verse)
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location (my 2018 Google Reading map)USA (CA) and Ghana

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Blade never asked for a life of the rich and famous. In fact, he'd give anything not to be the son of Rutherford Morrison, a washed-up rock star and drug addict with delusions of a comeback. Or to no longer be part of a family known most for lost potential, failure, and tragedy. The one true light is his girlfriend, Chapel, but her parents have forbidden their relationship, assuming--like many--that Blade will become just like his father.

In reality, the only thing Blade has in common with Rutherford is the music that lives inside them. But not even the songs that flow through Blade's soul are enough when he's faced with two unimaginable realities: the threat of losing Chapel forever, and the revelation of a long-held family secret, one that leaves him questioning everything he thought was true. All that remains is a letter and a ticket to Ghana--both of which could bring Blade the freedom and love he's been searching for, or leave him feeling even more adrift.

Review: I don't read very many books written in verse, but Kwame Alexander is so good at it; I loved this book! Verse works really well when your main character is a musician since the cadence of the verse seems to match his thoughts and experiences.

The first half of the book sets the reader up for the second half. Growing up in Hollywood, CA the son of an old rocker who has definitely seen better days, Blade can't wait to get out. He is embarrassed and ashamed of his dad, their lifestyle, and just needs to escape. Luxury and money, while providing comforts and material goods, certainly doesn't buy happiness. Then, Blade finds out the family secret and he is out of there.

The second half of the book is set in Ghana where the rhythm of life is slower, poorer, and, in many ways, richer. But it is certainly not without its troubles. Blade learns about himself, his dad, and life while navigating Ghana. 

This all sounds like it's full of life lessons, and it is, but they are woven into the fabric of the story, setting, and characters in such a way that that reader absorbs them rather than getting hit over the head with them. This is about family, love, self, and understanding and it is beautifully crafted.

Challenges for which this counts: 

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