HarperCollins/Etch. Apr. 2022. 320p. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780358161820.
Gr 5-8–After a stunning turn with the 2016 graphic novelization of The Crossover, Alexander and Anyabwile once again team up, this time for an adaptation of Alexander’s 2016 novel in verse. Eighth grader Nick Hall lives and breathes soccer, but he’s got plenty of other things on his mind. His best friend is on a rival team; his dad’s expectations for him are astronomically high; a couple of brutish bullies keep getting in his business; he’s trying to figure out what to do about his crush, April; and his parents have separated, and, even worse, his mom is moving from their home in Texas to Kentucky to train racing horses. Readers will find Nick relatable and funny—his malapropisms and wordplay brim with rhythmic joy, even when he addresses tough topics. Nick finds himself succeeding in some spaces while drowning in others. Luckily, supportive adults help pull him to shore, like the Mac, a rapper-turned-librarian who (along with April) reframes Nick’s relationship with words and reading, laying the groundwork for a fresh start for the boy and his dad. The grayscale palette, highlighted by lime green accents, allows the poetry to take center stage. Nick and his family are Black.
VERDICT Conveying an important mental health message, this graphic novel adaptation is one more feather in the cap of a truly iconic author.

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