New York Times bestselling authors Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess (Solo) tell this lyrical story about hope, courage, and love that speaks to anyone who's struggled to find their voice. And the surprise ending shines a spotlight on the issues related to our current social divide, challenging perspectives and inspiring everyone to make their voice heard.
When America is not so beautiful, or right, or just, it can be hard to know what to do. Best friends Walt and Noah decide to use their voices to grow more good in the world, but first they've got to find cool.
Walt is convinced junior year is their year, and he has a plan to help them woo the girls of their dreams and become amazing athletes. Never mind that he and Noah failed to make the high school baseball team yet again, and Noah's love interest since third grade, Sam, has him firmly in the friend zone. Noah soon finds himself navigating the worlds of jazz, batting cages, the strange advice of Walt's Dairy Queen-employed cousin, as well as Walt's "Hug Life" mentality. Status quo seems inevitable until Noah stumbles on a stash of old love letters. Each page contains the words he's always wanted to say to Sam, and he begins secretly creating artwork using the lines that speak his heart. But when his private artwork becomes public, Noah has a decision to make: continue his life in the dugout and possibly lose the girl forever, or take a swing and finally speak out?
At the same time, numerous American flags are being left around town. While some think it's a harmless prank and others see it as a form of peaceful protest, Noah can't shake the feeling something bigger is happening to his community. Especially after he witnesses events that hint divides and prejudices run deeper than he realized.
As the personal and social tensions increase around them, Noah and Walt must decide what is really true when it comes to love, friendship, sacrifice, and fate.
- Is written by New York Times bestselling author and Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Honor Book Award-winner Kwame Alexander
- Is a young adult fiction novel told through Kwame's one-of-a-kind free-verse poetry
- Is ripe with themes of hope, courage, and love
- Masterfully combines jazz, art, baseball, friendship, and love into what many are calling "Kwame's best book yet"
- Tackles some of the most painful social issues of today, including racial prejudice
- 2020 YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
About the Author
Kwame Alexander is a poet, an educator, and the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty-five books, including his Newbery Medal-winning middle grade novel The Crossover. Some of his other works include Booked, which was longlisted for the National Book Award; The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life; Swing; the picture books How to Read a Book and How to Write a Poem (coauthored with Deanna Nikaido), both illustrated by Melissa Sweet; and The Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, which was longlisted for the National Book Award and won the Caldecott Medal, a Newbery Honor, and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award. He is a regular contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, currently serving as their poet ambassador. He lives in Virginia with his family. Visit his website at kwamealexander.com.
Mary Rand Hess has been writing and editing professionally for over twenty years. She writes everything from poetry, novels, and picture books to screenplays and teleplays. In addition to her writing and editing, she has had the privilege of running an independent publishing company, where she works with award-winning, high-profile figures in the literary, sports, and entertainment industries. Over the years, she has also taught creative writing, drama, art, and Sunday school.
'Despite the easy flow of verse, there is a density to this story with its multiple elements. Lively, moving, and heartfelt.' --Kirkus, starred review--Kirkus, starred review
'...this novel packs a punch into its shocking and extremely powerful ending straight from today's headlines.' --Booklist--Booklist
'This important and recommended contemporary YA will inspire young people to find their own voices and take a swing at life. A must-have.' --School Library Journal, starred review--School Library Journal