Publishers Weekly Review
Betrayed by those closest to him and stunned by a family secret, 17-year-old Blade Morrison flees his comfortable but chaotic life as the son of a drug-addicted rock star. Seeking answers and closure, Blade travels to the Ghanaian village of Konko, where he gains new perspective on family and belonging. Writing in free verse, Alexander and Hess, who recently collaborated on Animal Ark, strongly communicate Blade's frustration and disappointment ("I have taken for granted/ the palm trees of Cali... planted by Spanish missionaries/ in the 18th century.... They don't belong here./ And neither do I"). Lyrics from Blade's songs (and interspersed references to songs from Lenny Kravitz, Metallica, and others) emphasize the importance of music in his life, both as a link to his family and as a way to express himself. Blade's interactions with his father, a Ghanaian young woman named Joy, and a child named Sia are especially poignant, so much so that these secondary characters can draw focus. But many readers will identify with Blade's struggle to find his place in a family where he feels like an outsider. Ages 13-up. Agent: Arielle Eckstut, Levine Greenberg Rostan. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Review
Gr 7 Up-Blade Morrison is on shaky ground. The death of his mother years ago still haunts him, and he's continually disappointed by his father Rutherford, a rock legend who has long grappled with drug and alcohol addiction. Rutherford's humiliating behavior at Blade's high school graduation, Blade's older sister Storm's revelation of a devastating family secret, and his girlfriend Chapel's betrayal send the teenager reeling. Looking for answers, he heads to Ghana, where he begins to heal. This novel in verse reverberates with the energy of spoken word poetry. Alexander and Hess have a knack for making ordinary language seem lyrical, and the narrative is conveyed through dialogue, text messages, and news reports as well as through Blade's terse, first-person, present-tense musings. References to rock and roll songs and artists as varied as Lenny Kravitz, Guns N' Roses, and Stevie Nicks give the book an infectious rhythm. Though the writing is at times slightly unpolished, it perfectly captures the teenage voice. Blade is all highs and lows, veering sharply from the intoxicating embrace of first love and lust to feelings of heartbreak and alienation. Some conflicts are wrapped up too neatly and others are forgotten entirely, but the authentic character development and tone will strike a chord with young adults. VERDICT Hand to music lovers, reluctant readers, fans of spoken word poetry, those who appreciate Alexander's work, or anyone seeking a tale of self-discovery.-Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
*Starred Review* Blade Morrison begins his story by disclosing, I am / the wretched son / of a poor / rich man. Master storytellers and poets Alexander (The Crossover, 2014) and Hess (The Day I Met the Nuts, 2009) have joined forces to pen a rhythmic, impassioned ode to family, identity, and the history of rock and roll. The only things 17-year-old Blade can count on as the wealthy but neglected son of famously erratic rock god Rutherford Morrison are his soulful guitar ballads and his girlfriend, Chapel. When Rutherford disappoints Blade one time too many and they end up fighting, Blade's sister reveals a long-guarded family secret. Suddenly the music leaves him; when Chapel is no longer there to anchor him either, Blade sets out to discover more about his own past. A mix tape of classic rock hits guides him from Los Angeles all the way to the small village of Konko, Ghana, where a delay in his journey brings him unexpected fulfillment. Scattered throughout the novel in verse are some of Blade's original rock ballads, though every poem feels like a song, pulsing with Alexander's signature lyrical style. Blade ends up finding much more than what he expects: self-discovery, community, and a deeper understanding of what family means. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Alexander has a history of appealing to teens of all sorts, and a Newbery to his name; don't expect this collaboration to stay on shelves long.--Kling, Caitlin Copyright 2017 Booklist