Review of Rebound

by Kwame Alexander; illus. by Dawud Anyabwile
Intermediate, Middle School    Houghton    414 pp.
4/18    978-0-544-86813-7    $16.99

In this prequel to Alexander’s Newbery Medal–winning The Crossover (rev. 5/14), it’s the summer of 1988, and twelve-year-old Charlie Bell would rather roller-skate with his two best friends or escape into the pages of his beloved Fantastic Four comics than confront the hole in his life created by the sudden death of his father. While spending the summer with his grandparents outside of Washington, DC, Charlie makes mistakes, rediscovers his extended family, and finds solace on the basketball court. Readers of The Crossover will be instantly drawn in to this origin story of protagonists Josh and JB’s father, Chuck “Da Man” Bell. A story filled with preteen angst, peer pressure, realistic family dynamics, and first romance is elevated to uncommon heights by a visceral exploration of grief and a search for confidence that pays off in spectacular ways. The narrative is propelled by the staccato rhythmic poetry with which readers of Alexander’s previous middle-grade books are familiar. The poetry shines, especially when it brings readers into Charlie’s inner narrative: “Sometimes, I wish / I were a superhero / so I could fight back / against all the / doom / and the gloom / that’s trying / to destroy / me.” Anyabwile’s occasional full-page or double-page-spread comics explode off the page, providing paneled visualizations for many of the energetic poems featuring fast-paced basketball action. A coda set thirty years later written by Chuck to his twin sons Josh and JB is a poignant and eloquent summation of the themes and events of this excellent novel.

From the July/August 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine: Special Issue: ALA Awards.
Eric Carpenter
Eric Carpenter
Eric Carpenter is the school librarian at Fred A. Toomer Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia.

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