Summary: Blade, the son of a famous, but notoriously addicted rock star, tries to find his way to adulthood.
My first narrative verse book was Brown Girl Dreaming. I have been looking forward to reading Kwame Alexander since because I knew that he wrote novels that are written in verse. There are others as well, that I will make my way to eventually.
I have never really liked poetry. But I know that part of it is because I do not like reading slow. I want to read fast and keep moving. Solo and Brown Girl Dreaming were well worth reading. With both I have started with the audiobooks so that I can hear them read properly. I will go back eventually and read them in print, but the right reading of poetry I think is part of my problem with poetry.
Solo is also a musical book. So in addition to the narrative verse, it is about a musician and it includes original music written for the book. The audiobook includes that, which is yet another reason to listen to the audiobook.
Blade is 17, the school salutatorian. A natural with a guitar, and the son of a famous but addicted rock star father. His mother died when he was 9 and he has not gotten over that, nor has his father or older sister. Blade resents his family even as he loves them. His father has given him wealth and many things, including a love of music and access to it. But he also has messed up his life, including the fact that his girlfriend’s father will not let them see one another because of the screw up that is his Dad.
In some ways this is a fairly predictable book once a few plot points are laid out. Blade is only 17. He is self centered, does not have a lot of empathy for his father or his girlfriend’s father. He wants the relational stuff to come as easy as the money in his house does. But it does not.
You know that there is going to be a point of conflict that pushes Blade to grow up. There was more focus on the romantic elements than I would have preferred. It felt authentic. But I do appreciate coming of age books that are more about emotional maturity than about romance. This is a PG book, no actual sex happens, but there are situations were it is desired and attempted, but thwarted.
There is also something that I have found compelling about stories of musicians. I have no desire to be a real musician, although at one point I was a music education major. It would be nice to really make music, but the modern world of music that involves a lot of self promotion, a public life and a ton of touring. I would hate that reality. But the passion to communicate deeper emotions and thoughts does appeal. The best of this book is the communication of what it means to be gifted with ability to a real musician.