Seventeen-year-old Noah has a problem. He’s in love with his best friend and has been since the third grade. Does he reveal his true feelings for her or does he continue to sit on the sidelines, pining for a girl he may never have? In Kwame Alexander’s newest book, Swing (written with Mary Rand Hess), readers are taken on a lyrical, poetic trip as Noah pursues the one he loves, and then some.
When I first opened the pages of this wonderful book, I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. The words on the page weren’t arranged or aligned like a normal novel. No, something special was done with them. Swing is put together like an epic poem, but reads like a novel. And it is fantastic. I felt like I was reading an important piece of music, as Noah and his friend Walt, also known as Swing, try to live the lives of normal teenagers: getting the girl, making the baseball team, and dealing with challenges we all face as we grow into adulthood.
The character who made the biggest impact on me in this book is Swing himself. He is a FORCE. Swing lives and breathes jazz, goes after any and everything he wants, and reminds readers that we should live to the fullest, no matter what. Get that job, ask that beautiful woman on a date, take that trip abroad. But LIVE. It’s Swing who pushes Noah to pursue their mutual friend, Sam, a girl they’ve known for years. Using his love of art, and a few decades-old love letters Noah finds in the birthday present he buys for his Mom, the young artist creates originals pieces that express how he feels for this lucky young lady.
Swing is a fast read, but I implore you to take your time with this work. The authors truly created a piece that should be savored. Like jazz, let Swing get into your bones, under your skin and envelope you like the sounds of a smooth sax or a frenetic trumpet. The story itself is cuss-word free, which was refreshing. Noah and Swing reminded me of young guys I knew growing up: cocky, insecure, full of energy and self-doubt, and talented beyond belief. Be prepared, though. The novel takes a turn that had me wrecked, but it was timely and never felt over the top. I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Swing, which drops on October 2.