by Kwame Alexander
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
In this prequel to Crossover, which focused on the relationship between twin 7th grade basketball stars and their basketball superstar dad, Rebound tells the dad’s story of going through similar struggles of growing up. I wanted to like this so hard, because I loved the original book, Crossover. And it’s completely Alexander – very well-written, complex characters and solid story, which can be hard to hit in a novel-in-verse. However, it felt very derivative, both of Crossover (dad dies young, basketball main theme, starting to like girls, dealing with grief, police and black boys) and of As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds, where the main character is sent away to his grandparents’ house for the summer and earns his keep. The repetitive themes, in retrospect, seem to allude to the cycle of health, poverty, and social issues that people of color are likely find themselves in, especially as hit home by Granddaddy who advises Charlie to choose carefully who he wants on his team, and that he can count on his family. The scenes where Charlie really breaks through and grows did not hit me as hard as they did in Crossover, which was disappointing. I did appreciate the ending, which wraps up the dad’s story and brings it back to present day (actually a little beyond – high school graduation) with the twins. I had read Crossover long enough ago that I wasn’t completely sure CJ was who I thought she was, and that was nice to have confirmed for me. I’m not sure which order I would recommend reading these books in, though probably the original publication order makes the most sense.