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Solo by Kwame Alexander & Mary Rand Hess
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Narrator Kwame Alexander with Randy Preston

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Length 4 hours 1 minute
Language English
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Solo by Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess is a New York Times bestseller! Kirkus Reviews said Solo is, “A contemporary hero’s journey, brilliantly told.” Through the story of a young Black man searching for answers about his life, Solo empowers, engages, and encourages teenagers to move from heartache to healing, burden to blessings, depression to deliverance, and trials to triumphs. And the audio is narrated by Kwame Alexander himself, featuring original music that ties to the book.

Blade never asked for a life of the rich and famous. In fact, he’d give anything not to be the son of Rutherford Morrison, a washed-up rock star and drug addict with delusions of a comeback. Or to no longer be part of a family known most for lost potential, failure, and tragedy, including the loss of his mother. The one true light is his girlfriend, Chapel, but her parents have forbidden their relationship, assuming Blade will become just like his father.

In reality, the only thing Blade and Rutherford have in common is the music that lives inside them. And songwriting is all Blade has left after Rutherford, while drunk, crashes his high school graduation speech and effectively rips Chapel away forever. But when a long-held family secret comes to light, the music disappears. In its place is a letter, one that could bring Blade the freedom and love he’s been searching for, or leave him feeling even more adrift.

Solo:


  • Is written by New York Times bestselling author and Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Book Award-winner Kwame Alexander

  • Showcases Kwame’s signature intricacy, intimacy, and poetic style, by exploring what it means to finally go home

  • An #OwnVoices novel that features a BIPOC protagonist on a search for his roots and identity

  • Received great reviews from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Booklist, and Kirkus

If you enjoy Solo, check out Swing by Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess.

 

Kwame Alexander is the New York Times Bestselling author of 32 books, including The Undefeated; How to Read a Book; Solo; Swing; Rebound, which was shortlisted for prestigious Carnegie Medal; and his Newbery medal-winning middle grade novel, The Crossover. He’s also the founding editor of Versify, an imprint that aims to Change the World One Word at a Time. Visit him at KwameAlexander.com

 

Mary Rand Hess is a poet, mixed-media artist, screenwriter, and New York Times bestselling author of Solo and Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures, both coauthored with Kwame Alexander.

 

 

 

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Reviews

'A gorgeously lyrical and passionate meditation on family and identity. Solo is Kwame Alexander at his finest.' 'Hand to music lovers, reluctant readers, fans of spoken word poetry, those who appreciate Alexander's work, or anyone seeking a tale of self-discovery.' 'A contemporary hero's journey, brilliantly told.' 'A rhythmic, impassioned ode to family, identity, and the history of rock and roll.' 'From the lyric verse to the driving beat of the storytelling, this book is music, and beautiful music.' Two Starred view from Media Break! The 17-year-old son of a troubled rock star is determined to find his own way in life and love. On the verge of adulthood, Blade Morrison wants to leave his father’s bad-boy reputation for drug-and-alcohol–induced antics and his sister’s edgy lifestyle behind. The death of his mother 10 years ago left them all without an anchor. Named for the black superhero, Blade shares his family’s connection to music but resents the paparazzi that prevent him from having an open relationship with the girl that he loves. However, there is one secret even Blade is unaware of, and when his sister reveals the truth of his heritage during a bitter fight, Blade is stunned. When he finally gains some measure of equilibrium, he decides to investigate, embarking on a search that will lead him to a small, remote village in Ghana. Along the way, he meets people with a sense of purpose, especially Joy, a young Ghanaian who helps him despite her suspicions of Americans. This rich novel in verse is full of the music that forms its core. In addition to Alexander and co-author Hess’ skilled use of language, references to classic rock songs abound. Secondary characters add texture to the story: does his girlfriend have real feelings for Blade? Is there more to his father than his inability to stay clean and sober? At the center is Blade, fully realized and achingly real in his pain and confusion. A contemporary hero’s journey, brilliantly told. (Verse fiction. 14-adult) Betrayed by those closest to him and stunned by a family secret, 17-year-old Blade Morrison flees his comfortable but chaotic life as the son of a drug-addicted rock star. Seeking answers and closure, Blade travels to the Ghanaian village of Konko, where he gains new perspective on family and belonging. Writing in free verse, Alexander and Hess, who recently collaborated on Animal Ark, strongly communicate Blade’s frustration and disappointment (“I have taken for granted/ the palm trees of Cali... planted by Spanish missionaries/ in the 18th century.... They don’t belong here./ And neither do I”). Lyrics from Blade’s songs (and interspersed references to songs from Lenny Kravitz, Metallica, and others) emphasize the importance of music in his life, both as a link to his family and as a way to express himself. Blade’s interactions with his father, a Ghanaian young woman named Joy, and a child named Sia are especially poignant, so much so that these secondary characters can draw focus. But many readers will identify with Blade’s struggle to find his place in a family where he feels like an outsider. -- PW Expand reviews
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