Written by Kwame Alexander
Published by HMH
Nick is your typical eight grade boy: Obsessed with sports (soccer, in particular) and girls (April, in particular). When his parents announce they are getting divorced, Nick’s world spins out of control. He undergoes emergency surgery, forcing him to miss games, he and his best friend, Cory, hit a rough patch, and his bullies focus their energies.
What Nick goes through is realistic and well conveyed, and sure to be identifiable to many readers.
Alexander employs a wide range of poetic styles, with an emphasis on free verse, which -for me- was the book’s achilles heel: At times the free verse sections come at the expensive of narrative substance. The story and characters remain closer to sketches than to fleshed-out people. Coming in at over 300 pages, the novel has the narrative heft of a work half that length.
That being said, narrative heft isn’t exactly a hallmark of middle grade fiction, and it could be that the only reason it stands out at all is Alexander is clearly capable of doing more; I’d be interested in seeing him devote his talents to an adult or young adult novel, where he can stretch his legs a bit more.
Booked flies by at an impressive speed. And Alexander is a deft wordsmith, so the poetry flows beautifully, and in fact, this feverish pace practically erases any inadequacies. Also worth noting, is the fact that what I’ve perceived as short-comings, the target audience will likely see as selling points.
Also admirable is the fact that Alexander, as ort of modern day Matt Christopher, has created a work that should appeal to virtually every reader in the age group: Avid and reluctant readers; boys and girls; sportos (in the language of The Breakfast Club) and bookworms.
Of all the superlatives that could be hurled at Booked –and they are numerous– perhaps the most succinct is “likable.” This is a profoundly likable work.
Well worth the investment.
Kinderlit requested and received a copy of Booked in exchange for an honest review. Read about our Review Policy HERE.