Booked by Kwame Alexander. HMH Books for Young Readers, 2016. 320 pages.
What It Is: A verse novel for middle grades and YA
What It’s About: Nick and his best friend Coby are top notch soccer players with their eyes on a big tournament in Dallas. But when Nick’s mom and dad start having marriage issues, and Nick gets injured, he’s forced to face the reality that things don’t always go as planned.
What Works: Nick is a very likable, typical kid. He’s great at words, thanks to his dad’s influence, but isn’t much of a student. His real love is soccer. Plenty of middle grades and early high school readers will relate to a love of sports coupled with lesser enthusiasm towards school. The touch of romance is handled well, too. Plenty of young readers, unfortunately, will also understand the parental tension.
What Doesn’t Work: The second person voice takes some getting used to. Additionally, Alexander’s command of the verse novel potential isn’t as strong as it was in Crossover. A few stock characters appear, like the super cool librarian and the strict (but talented) teacher.
What I Think/Recommend: This book will find its audience, definitely. It’s worth adding to library collections or checking out from a library. But I’d recommend checking it out before buying. Additionally, Nick’s parents are amicable, but they do not end the book back together. Realistic, but some may wish to know that going in.