Reviewed by Anastasia Shown
I enjoyed Solo. The emotions expressed by Blade are true to the teen experience. Rock legends, including Nigerian Fela Kuti, are woven throughout the story and help to push the narrative along. My favorite character is Joy. She is the person who teaches us the most about Ghana. We learn about rural life and culture. Joy flips back and forth between her native language and perfect English (better than Blade’s). We gain insight about the half-built school and well—aid projects that were never finished. We learn about family—Joy takes care of her sick uncle despite dreams of finishing school and tends to children in the community who are orphaned. Joy is wise beyond her years and doesn’t fall blindly for the Americans who swoop into her small village. She gives a lot of herself to her new friends, not because she is poor or oppressed but because she exhibits time-honored Ghanaian customs and traditions. She shows Blade and his family what really matters in life. Continue reading.
Solo by Kwame Alexander
Published by Blink on 2017
Genres: Africa, Music
Reading Level: High School
Review Source: Africa Access
Buy at Powell's Books
New York Times bestseller!
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.
"A contemporary hero's journey, brilliantly told." --Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"A rhythmic, impassioned ode to family, identity, and the history of rock and roll." --Booklist, starred review
"Many readers will identify with Blade's struggle to find his place in a family where he feels like an outsider." --Publishers Weekly
"The authentic character development and tone will strike a chord with young adults." --School Library Journal