August 11, 2021 7:36 AM EDT

The Crossover uses hip-hop rhymes and free-verse poetry to tell the coming-of-age story of Josh Bell, a 12-year-old basketball star living in suburbia. Josh’s twin brother, JB, is also a basketball star, and their father is a former player in the European basketball league. The family has always bonded over their shared love of the sport—but now JB is more interested in seeing his new girlfriend than shooting hoops with Josh, and their father is clearly suffering from a health issue he refuses to address. Published in 2014, the book won a Newbery Medal and a Coretta Scott King Author Honor, and established Kwame Alexander as a beloved writer of books for and about young boys. The first in a trilogy, The Crossover hooks readers with characters and language they can easily relate to before creating a rich portrait of a family in flux. “Yes, it moves and grooves on the court with the rhythm of verse,” Alexander said in his Newbery acceptance speech. “But it is first and foremost about family.” —Shay Maunz

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