One of my reading goals for 2019 was to read more poetry and books in verse, and on January 13th, I officially met my goal for the year. Whoops. That fifth book of poetry, or a book in verse, was Swing by Kwame Alexander. I was looking for a book of poetry or in verse for my YA literature class and this one came highly recommended. I flew through it like I do all books in verse and I really enjoyed it.
Swing is told through the eyes of Noah Wallace, a teenager, though there’s a lot of focus on his best friend, Walt,and his best female friend and the girl he’s in love with, Sam. When Noah and Walt don’t make the baseball year for the umpteenth year in a row, they decide to focus their pursuits elsewhere: love and the related arts. There’s Walt’s cousin, Floyd, a podcast called the WooHoo Women, and some old love letters found in thebottom of a Louis Vuitton purse at a thrift store. All the while, American flags keep popping up around town and no one knows what is going on. Is it a threat? Is it Klan stuff? Is it an art installation? All of this happens in the backdrop of Noah and Walt’s friendship and the world around them, mostly over the course of a few weeks while Noah’s parents are out of the country. Will Noah finally tell Sam how he feels? Will Walt get a date to the prom? Will they ever learn the truth behind the flags?
Like all verse novels, Swing has really strong moments and moments that don’t grip you as much. The conversations, told using italics and the like, got a little lost on me sometimes, but I really enjoyed the mixed media area. Similarly, every single YA verse novel I’ve ever read is absolutely tragic at the end, and I won’t tell you how this one ends, but don’t expect joy.
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