A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Solo, by Newbery Medal winner Kwame Alexander (The Crossover) with poet and author Mary Rand Hess, is a novel in free verse about 17-year-old Blade, a Los Angeles musician, songwriter, and neglected son who begins to see the cost of fame. The story involves Blade's rock star dad's addiction, the death of a parent by allergic reaction, the death of a child from disease, adoption and heritage, as well as typical teen coming-of-age issues of first love, identity, and forgiveness. Parents should be prepared to discuss these topics and the topics of teen sexuality, trust, and working out family issues. They should also be ready to talk about tabloid and social media celebrity.
What's the story?
In SOLO, Blade Morrison has one parent who is dead, another who's a rock legend and legendary screw up, a girlfriend who has to keep their relationship secret, and a sister who straddles the line between super annoying and somewhat supportive. He lives under the Morrison family cloud of fame, excess, and celebrity that shelters and imprisons him. There's also a big family secret looming that will rock his world -- and not in a good way. When Blade's dad's addiction screws up the biggest day of Blade's life, he makes a decision to cut loose from the family and the fame, and looks to a future with his girl, Chapel. Will Blade break free of the notoriety of being a Morrison? Will Chapel get free of her family? And is there any hope that Blade's dad will break free from his addiction? Family, secrets, fame, and music drive Blade to places he never imagined, including a little village in Ghana.
Is it any good?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about fantasy vs. reality in Solo. How does the media's portrayal of celebrities compare with the reality of life lived in the public eye? How might life be hard if you were a celebrity? What wouldn't you want people to discuss about your family and life if you were a celebrity?
How does forgiveness help in Solo? Have you ever had trouble forgiving a family member? How did that affect your relationship?
Kwame Alexander tells his story in free verse. What makes poetry a good fit for a story about music? What other interesting ways have you seen people tell a story?
- Authors: Kwame Alexander, Mary Rand Hess
- Genre: Poetry
- Topics: Friendship, High School, Misfits and Underdogs, Music and Sing-Along
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date: August 1, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 464
- Available on: Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
Themes & Topics
For kids who love poetry and coming-of-age stories
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.