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We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander is the first book in “The Crossover” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

In poetic cadence akin to rap, seventh grader Josh Bell writes about basketball and his family. Josh and his identical twin, JB, both love basketball, as their father did, a former professional basketball player. With Dad’s help and support, they devote themselves to practice and lead their school team.

Josh is proud of his dreadlocks, which help classmates easily identify each twin from the other. When Josh loses a bet with JB on the court, JB earns the right to cut off one dreadlock. He slips and accidentally cuts a number of them, leaving a bald patch. Josh’s mom ultimately makes him cut his hair.

The hair incident leaves Josh bitter at his brother, but it is only the beginning of the family’s troubles. Mom, the assistant principal of Josh and JB’s school, worries incessantly about her husband’s health. He has a family history of heart problems, eats poorly and refuses to see a doctor.

JB starts dating a girl, and Josh feels left behind. The further they get into the basketball season, the angrier Josh becomes. He lets his frustration out on the court during a game, throwing a ball at JB so hard it almost breaks his nose.

After a temporary suspension because of his hostile behavior, Josh is given clearance to play in the championship game. Meanwhile, Dad has been having nosebleeds and exhibiting other signs that he isn’t in good health. He has a heart attack while playing a game of one-on-one with Josh. He is still in this hospital several weeks later as Josh prepares to leave home for the championship game. Mom calls to report Dad has had another heart attack, and Josh decides to play in the game anyway. His father dies that night.

Josh grieves but realizes he wants to honor his father’s memory. He and JB, who used to joke about Dad being “da man,” resolve their differences. They realize they now have to work together to be “da man” for themselves and Mom.

Christian Beliefs

Josh and his family attend church regularly. JB goes to fewer basketball camps in the summer than Josh. He says he doesn’t want to miss Bible school, but Josh knows he is just interested in a girl from church.

Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Josh and JB’s mom is a loving, concerned wife and mother and the assistant principal of their school. Dad is a former basketball player who encourages and supports his sons, particularly in their sport. He refuses to visit medical professionals or eat well, even after his health begins to decline.


While there is no overt profanity, players trash talk each other at times. Josh intentionally throws a ball at JB hard enough that it almost breaks his nose.


JB says his girlfriend is the apple of his eye and that he wants to peel her and get under her skin. There are a few mentions of girls’ tight jeans. A couple of times, Josh notes his parents have stopped their discussion and are quiet in the next room. He says he knows what that means (presumably indicating they are becoming intimate).

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

9 to 12


Kwame Alexander






Record Label



Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company


On Video

Year Published



Coretta Scott King Honor Book, 2015; Newbery Medal Winner, 2015


We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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