Review: Swing by Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess

Title: Swing
Authors: Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: Blink
Pages: 448

Content Warnings: PTSD, police brutality, underage drinking

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Things usually do not go as planned for seventeen-year-old Noah. He and his best friend Walt (aka Swing) have been cut from the high school baseball team for the third year in a row, and it looks like Noah’s love interest since third grade, Sam, will never take it past the “best friend” zone. Noah would love to retire his bat and accept the status quo, but Walt has big plans for them both, which include making the best baseball comeback ever, getting the girl, and finally finding cool.

To go from lovelorn to ladies’ men, Walt introduces Noah to a relationship guru—his Dairy Queen-employed cousin, Floyd—and the always informative Woohoo Woman Podcast. Noah is reluctant, but decides fate may be intervening when he discovers more than just his mom’s birthday gift at the thrift shop. Inside the vintage Keepall is a gold mine of love letters from the 1960s. Walt is sure these letters and the podcasts are just what Noah needs to communicate his true feelings to Sam. To Noah, the letters are more: an initiation to the curious rhythms of love and jazz, as well as a way for him and Walt to embrace their own kind of cool. While Walt is hitting balls out of the park and catching the eye of the baseball coach, Noah composes anonymous love letters to Sam in an attempt to write his way into her heart. But as things are looking up for Noah and Walt, a chain of events alters everything Noah knows to be true about love, friendship, sacrifice, and fate. 

In Swing, bestselling authors Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess (Solo) present a free-verse poetic story that will speak to anyone who’s struggled to find their voice and take a swing at life.

Amazon | Goodreads | Book Depository | Indiebound

Wow. I was not expecting so much emotion to come from this novel. Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess write beautifully together and I was entranced from the very first page.

Novels written in verse always appeal to me and Alexander and Hess did not disappoint. The imagery within these pages was incredible and brought the words to life. It was as if I could feel everything that was happening.

Jazz is not something I enjoy. That’s an understatement. I hate jazz music. I did, however, love how passionate these characters were about this particular type of music. It seeped into them and became such a huge part of everything.

The characters were all unique, but at the same time, they each had traits and interests that overlapped each other. This helped their friendships and interactions feel realistic. There was also a level of depth to the characters that is not often seen. Layer after layer kept getting peeled away until the characters at the end of the story are not the same as the ones we met at the beginning.

This book doesn’t let go of you even after you read the last word. The ending was a little abrupt, but it fit the events that took place. Life is abrupt like that sometimes, too. It’s shocking and unexpected and makes us uncomfortable. Alexander and Hess captured that in the most heartbreaking way.

Swing is a deeply important novel that sinks itself into you. The story hit me hard and demanded to be read in one go. It’s absolutely worth your time and one I will be recommending at every opportunity.

A finished copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and New York Times Bestselling author of 21 books, including THE CROSSOVER, which received the 2015 John Newbery Medal for the Most Distinguished Contribution to American literature for Children, the Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor, The NCTE Charlotte Huck Honor, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, and the Passaic Poetry Prize. Kwame writes for children of all ages. His other works include SURF’S UP, a picture book; BOOKED, a middle grade novel; and He Said She Said, a YA novel.

Kwame believes that poetry can change the world, and he uses it to inspire and empower young people through his PAGE TO STAGE Writing and Publishing Program released by Scholastic. A regular speaker at colleges and conferences in the U.S., he also travels the world planting seeds of literary love (Singapore, Brazil, Italy, France, Shanghai, etc.). Recently, Alexander led a delegation of 20 writers and activists to Ghana, where they delivered books, built a library, and provided literacy professional development to 300 teachers, as a part of LEAP for Ghana, an International literacy program he co-founded.

Author Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Mary Rand Hess is a poet, screenwriter, mixed-media artist, and New York Times bestselling author of notable and award-winning books such as Solo and Swing (Blink YA), coauthored with Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander, Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures (National Geographic Children’s Books), also coauthored with Kwame Alexander and Deanna Nikaido, Little Larry Goes to School (National Geographic Children’s Books), written with renowned photographer and filmmaker, Gerry Ellis, and the forthcoming picture book, The One and Only Wolfgang: From Pet Rescue to One Big Happy Family, coauthored with Steve Greig of @wolfgang2242 Instagram fame. She is currently at work on a few novels in verse, picture books, and screenplays.

Author Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Enter to win 1 of 5 BLINK Summer Reading Tour Book Bundles (A Touch of Gold, Meet the Sky, No Place Like Here, Pretty In Punxsutawney, and Swing)!

Giveaway is open to US residents and starts 7/22/2019 and ends 8/9/2019. Enter through the Rafflecopter form and don’t forget to read the rules!

July 22

That Artsy Reader Girl – Summer Reading Tour Kick-Off

July 23

Pages & Pugs – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney + Favorite Quotes
Mangeuse de Livres – Q&A with Annie Sullivan (French & English)
Moonlight Rendezvous – Book Review of Meet the Sky + Favorite Quotes
Musings of a (Book) Girl – Christina June Guest Post
Ohana Cascadia – Book Review of Meet the Sky + Favorite Quotes
A Bronx Latina Reads – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney
Nay’s Pink Bookshelf – Book Review of Swing + Favorite Quotes
Taylor Fenner’s Bookish World – Book Review of A Touch of Gold
Kayla Reads and Reviews – Book Review of Swing + Creative Post
Savings In Seconds – Book Review of Meet the Sky

July 24

J.R.’s Book Reviews – Book Review of A Touch of Gold
Book-Keeping – Book Review of Meet the Sky
Musings of a (Book) Girl – Interview with Laurie Boyle Crompton
Lifestyle of Me – Book Review of No Place Like Here
Shelf-Rated – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney + Favorite Quotes
Reading Authors Network – Book Review of Swing
Read At Night – Interview with Christina June
NA Book Divas – Book Review of Swing
Cinnamon Summers – Book Review of No Place Like Here + Favorite Quotes
Inky Moments – Creative Post

July 25

Marshmallow Pudding – Christina June Guest Post
Never Too Many to Read – Creative Post for No Place Like Here
Ohana Cascadia – Book Review of Swing + Favorite Quotes
Nay’s Pink Bookshelf – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney + Favorite Quotes
FictitiousWonderland – Book Review + Creative Post for A Touch of Gold (Instagram)
Story-eyed Reviews – Interview with McCall Hoyle
Will Read Anything – Book Review of Meet the Sky
Kait Plus Books – Book Review of No Place Like Here + Favorite Quotes
The Reading Corner for All – Book Review of A Touch of Gold + Instagram Post

July 26

Adventures Thru Wonderland – McCall Hoyle Guest Post
Here’s to Happy Endings – Book Review of A Touch of Gold
What She Will Read – Book Review of No Place Like Here + Favorite Quotes
Starlight Reads – Book Playlist for Swing
Story-eyed Reviews – Book Review of Meet the Sky + Favorite Quotes
Library of a Book Witch – Book Review of A Touch of Gold
Will Read Anything – Book Review of Swing
Inky Moments – Book Review of No Place Like Here + Favorite Quotes

July 29

Beauty In the Binding – Author Q&A with Annie Sullivan
Onemused – Book Review of Meet the Sky (Instagram Photo)
A Bronx Latina Reads – Book Review of No Place Like Here
Cinnamon Summers – Book Review of Meet the Sky + Favorite Quotes
A Dream Within a Dream – Book Review of A Touch of Gold
A Bookish Dream – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney
Savings In Seconds – Book Review of Swing + Favorite Quotes
FictitiousWonderland – Book Review + Creative Post for Pretty In Punxsutawney (Instagram)

July 30

What She Will Read – Laurie Boyle Crompton Guest Post
Never Too Many to Read – Book Review of No Place Like Here
Starlight Reads – Book Review of Swing
YA/NA Book Divas – Book Review of A Touch of Gold
YA Media Consumer – Book Review of Meet the Sky
Some Books and Ramblings – Interview with McCall Hoyle
Moonlight Rendezvous – Book Review of A Touch of Gold + Favorite Quotes
The Reading Corner for All – Book Review of Meet the Sky + Instagram Post

July 31

Feed Your Fiction Addiction – McCall Hoyle Guest Post
Taylor Fenner’s Bookish World – Book Review of No Place Like Here
Book-Keeping – Book Review of Touch of Gold
Utopia State of Mind – Book Review of No Place Like Here
Kait Plus Books – Annie Sullivan Guest Post
Musings of a (Book) Girl – Book Review of Swing
Kait Plus Books – Laurie Boyle Crompton Guest Post
Read At Night – No Place Like Here Creative Post
Ohana Cascadia – Book Review of A Touch of Gold + Favorite Quotes
Lifestyle of Me – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney

August 1

Reading Authors Network – Creative Post for Swing
Story-eyed Reviews – Interview with Christina June
Two Points of Interest – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney
The Secret Reader – Book Review of A Touch of Gold + Creative Post
Belle’s Archive – Book Review of Swing
A Dream Within A Dream – Annie Sullivan Guest Post
Smada’s Book Smack – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney
A Bookish Dream – Book Review of No Place Like Here
Adventures Thru Wonderland – Book Review of Meet the Sky

August 2

Here’s to Happy Endings – Book Review of Meet the Sky
Belle’s Archive – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney
The Secret Reader – Book Review of Pretty In Punxsutawney + Interview with Laurie Boyle Crompton + Creative Post
Smada’s Book Smack – Book Review of No Place Like Here
Faery Tales Are Real – Book Review of A Touch of Gold
Read At Night – Book Review of Swing + Creative Post
Two Points of Interest – Book Review of Swing

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