On My Bookshelf: Solo by Kwame Alexander

August 13, 2018

In Solo by Kwame Alexander, Blade marches to the beat of his own drum, or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say to the strum of his own guitar. He is determined not to be like his father, a former rock star now battling addiction, or his sister, who still worships his father despite his faults. After disaster strikes (his father ruins his graduation, he discovers that he was adopted, and he finds his girlfriend with another guy), Blade takes off for Ghana to find his birth mother. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: 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.

Why I liked it: I loved Kwame Alexander's first book, The Crossover, and Solo did not disappoint (I still need to read Booked and Rebound). Blade marches to the beat of his own drum, or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say to the strum of his own guitar. He is determined not to be like his father, a former rock star now battling addiction, or his sister, who still worships his father despite his faults. After disaster strikes (his father ruins his graduation, he discovers that he was adopted, and he finds his girlfriend with another guy), Blade takes off for Ghana to find his birth mother. 
In Solo by Kwame Alexander, Blade marches to the beat of his own drum, or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say to the strum of his own guitar. He is determined not to be like his father, a former rock star now battling addiction, or his sister, who still worships his father despite his faults. After disaster strikes (his father ruins his graduation, he discovers that he was adopted, and he finds his girlfriend with another guy), Blade takes off for Ghana to find his birth mother. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

I loved the contrast of serious moments and humor in the novel: the poverty, but happiness in Ghana contrasted with Rutherford's struggles as he is filming a reality show. I also appreciated Rutherford's commitment to his relationship with his son. Despite all of his mistakes, he desperately wants to be there to support his son, whether it is crashing his graduation or showing up uninvited in Ghana. You couldn't help but root for the two to repair their relationship. 


Classroom application:  Like The Crossover, Solo is appropriate for middle school and up. There are some references to drug and alcohol use, but nothing is actually depicted. The novel is written in free verse, so fans of Brown Girl Dreaming and Inside Out and Back Again will like this one.

Solo references several songs throughout the novel and explains the significance of each. As a follow up project, students could create their own playlist of song and write about the memories connected with each.

Now that Kwame Alexander has several published novels, he would be the perfect subject for an author study with groups of students reading his different novels including this one.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Solo for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

In Solo by Kwame Alexander, Blade marches to the beat of his own drum, or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say to the strum of his own guitar. He is determined not to be like his father, a former rock star now battling addiction, or his sister, who still worships his father despite his faults. After disaster strikes (his father ruins his graduation, he discovers that he was adopted, and he finds his girlfriend with another guy), Blade takes off for Ghana to find his birth mother. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

You Might Also Like

0 comments