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The Crossover

Book review by
Terreece Clarke, Common Sense Media
The Crossover Book Poster Image
Soaring, poignant, novel in verse hits all the right spots.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 8 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

This book, written in verse, exposes more students to a different side of poetry, transcending conventional parameters to convey the soaring, sweeping, fast-paced movement of the basketball court. Basketball rules teach life lessons, and the story introduces and defines new vocabulary words.

Positive Messages

Positive messages about the importance of family, responsibility, problem solving, and education are prevalent throughout the book. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Through all of the main character's struggles, he remains a positive role model, mainly because of the support he receives from other positive figures in the book, including his father, mother, and coach. Unlike many books aimed at preteens and teens, The Crossover offers a positive example of an intact family with active, involved parents and uses adults to provide a guiding influence instead of turning them into caricatures. 


There's one incident of violence in which one brother knocks into the other, causing his nose to bleed.


Typical middle-school boy-girl crush stuff, in which, for example, boys discuss the size of a girl's backside and middle schoolers kiss. A husband and wife have romantic moments, with their son overhearing their discussions and knowing that silence meant they were having sex. 


Some mild name-calling, mainly by characters in the throes of sports-related trash-talking.


Air Force 1 basketball shoes, Krispy Kreme, and NBA teams and star players are mentioned, mainly to set the scene for discussion or to facilitate understanding of a character. Consumerism comes up for discussion in the context of promoting healthy eating over junk food and to acknowledge the questionable values of a star promoting a particular shoe line. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that author and poet Kwame Alexander's ​The Crossover is a poignant novel in verse that mixes basketball, family, and coming-of-age themes and includes serious issues regarding adult health and a parent's life-threatening condition. It won the 2015 Newbery Medal and a Coretta Scott King Book Honor, and may inspire a discussion about healthy lifestyle choices and the impact of those choices on people and their loved ones. There's mild name-calling when characters are in the throes of sports-related trash-talking, and sexual content is limited to middle-school crushes and a kiss. The novel offers a positive example of a loving, intact family with active, involved parents and uses adult characters to provide a guiding influence. There's an audiobook version narrated by Corey Allen.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byFrank M. May 12, 2017

If you don't look up the slang terms in urban dictionary you're not truly getting the meaning of what this book is about

If you don't look up the slang terms in urban dictionary you're not truly getting the meaning of what this book is about. Based on quotes from the aut... Continue reading
Adult Written byas a. October 25, 2016
Kid, 12 years old November 19, 2016

Fun to read!

This book is absolutely brilliant. It is really fun to read and ponder over what is happening or what the poem means. An example of it being smart is in the cha... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bybrendanweeks December 8, 2016

I think it is a very good book

its good for kids and young adults

What's the story?

Josh and his twin brother, JB, are inseparable, on and off the court. With the support of their father, a famous basketball player, they're poised to have a great season, maybe even win the championship for their junior high. Then things start to change. JB starts to spend more time with girls than with Josh, their dad is hiding a health issue that could change all of their lives, and Josh begins to lose his way. One big mistake, and he's suspended from the team, estranged from his brother, and wondering how much time he has left with the brightest star in his world: his father.

Is it any good?

Wow -- Kwame Alexander's THE CROSSOVER is a fast-moving, poignant, rhythmic ride that will leave readers breathless and in tears. Written in verse that's at times boundless and at other times masterfully restrained, it could have been just another ode to urban life, the world of sports, and teenage basketball phenoms. Instead, readers realize within a few pages that they're in for much more. Alexander tells the stories that need to be told: intact families of people who care for one another more than they care for the game, strong role models who support their children's dreams, and the realities faced by a young person growing up in today's world. 

Readers will fall in love with the characters, feeling the ache of loneliness, the heavy weight of worry, and the joy of family fun. Parents will love the opportunities the book presents for positive, deep discussions, as well as its slyly hidden life lessons and basic good values.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about sports books. Why are they so popular with kids and adults? What kinds of themes come out in a sports story?

  • When you buy products endorsed by an athlete with a bad reputation, do you feel like you're supporting the athlete's behavior?

  • Have you ever worried about a friendship changing because one of you got a new interest, such as sports, music or other friends? How did the situation turn out?

Book details

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