Two books to fill your heart and soul with music.
SOLO by Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess
Meet Blade Morrison, a young man living under the shadow of his once-famous, now washed-out and trashed rocker father. When Blade's high school graduation becomes his worst nightmare, his most searing heartache, he decides to escape from it all. A search for his roots takes him on a pilgrimage to Ghana where he discovers truths about his family, himself, and the latent music buried deep inside him. This novel in verse is brimming with soul-stirring scenes, poignant poetic phrases, and a killer playlist. Alexander and Hess have crafted YA literature that hits all the right notes.
Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia
Meet Clayton Byrd, a kid with a grandfather whom he adores and blues harp (aka harmonica) that he treasures. When his grandfather Cool Papa Byrd suddenly and unexpectedly dies, his mother is determined to remove every trace of Cool Papa from Clayton's life. He makes a plan, stuffs a backpack with peanut butter crackers, $17, and his purloined blues harp. Then he takes off searching for the life he lost. But life has a few surprises in store for this young adventurer and they are not at all pleasant. Clayton's struggle to honor his grandfather's legacy while accepting reality is a poignant tale. His story reaches deep into the heart, capturing the essence of grief and longing, understanding and acceptance,
Williams-Garcia's writing style is filled with the rhythmic cadence and soulful longing of the blues. As the Bluesmen would say, "Amen to that."
"I'm going down
Bonus: The Music Lives On
In her Author Notes, Rita Williams-Garcia mentions several blues artists who inspired her interest in writing this book. Listen to T-Bone Walker's Don't Throw Your Love for blues inspiration.
The great Tina Turner and Bryan Adams team up for It's Only Love. Alexander and Hess have included this 1980's classic in their SOLO playlist.