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-Seventeen-year-old Blade Morrison is the son of a washed-up musician father who finds his way out of rehab and into the tabloids on a regular basis. As Blade graduates high school and looks forward to college, he discovers a long-buried secret that changes his life forever. Told in poetic verse interspersed with original songs and famous song lyrics, this is a unique story of family, forgiveness, and faith. From Aretha Franklin to Metallica, with stops in Los Angeles and Ghana, this book covers a lot of territory, both figuratively and literally. The plot is all over the map with a secret love gone awry, a failed relationship between father and son, and a far-fetched journey across the world. Alexander narrates his own work and artfully accentuates the poetic verse. Because of his pacing and tone, it is often difficult to distinguish which character is speaking or where a verse begins and ends. Original songs are sprinkled throughout the reading, and a separate disc is devoted to them. VERDICT Despite some holes in the plot and thin character development, Alexander's prose is beautifully written and will appeal to avid and reluctant readers alike.-April Everett, Rowan County Information Technology, NC © 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