Solo, a YA novel in poetic verse, tells the story of seventeen-year-old Blade Morrison, whose life is bombarded with scathing tabloids and a father struggling with just about every addiction under the sun—including a desperate desire to make a comeback. Haunted by memories of his mother and his family’s ruin, Blade’s only hope is in the forbidden love of his girlfriend. But when he discovers a deeply protected family secret, Blade sets out on a journey across the globe that will change everything he thought to be true.
Even though it’s told in verse, the details and imagery are so rich, I kept forgetting I was reading poetry. Alexander has this way of pulling you into each scene, really making you feel everything as the story unfolds. I felt Blade’s sweet hopes for his relationship with his girlfriend and his bitter disappointment and anger with his dad for every broken promise, every ruined moment.
I loved the way Blade’s music appeared in the story—both as lyrics he’d written, and his own emotional experience playing the guitar. His international journey wasn’t what I expected, but I liked the way the story pursued Blade’s process of grief over his mom’s death and his father’s failures and the journey toward forgiveness and peace.
The story’s a bit grittier than others I’ve read in this line, but the writing is absolutely superb.
Blade and his family are black, and his father is a famous musician. He’s dating a white girl, the daughter of a reverend.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used infrequently.
Kissing between a boy and girl and one vague reference to “exploring hands”—which Blade’s girl puts a stop to quickly enough. Blade observes another couple kissing. Blade mentions that his girlfriend intends not to have sex until marriage, but confusingly, she also claims she’ll never get married, so he wonders why she’s dating him in the first place.
Vague references to Blade’s girlfriend’s parents attending church. At one point, faced with a scenic view, Blade’s dad makes a remark like, maybe there is a God.
Blade breaks up a party after a boy makes some cutting remarks about his sister. A young girl vomits blood while she’s ill.
Blade recalls a childhood memory of a party with his dad, a rock star. He drank whiskey and tasted cocaine in an effort to get noticed by his dad, and wound up in the hospital. His father went to jail. Later, his dad promises again and again he’ll quit drinking, then Blade finds him drunk again. At one point, his father ruins an important moment of Blade’s by showing up drunk and making a spectacle. Blade’s father’s behavior also leads to Blade being forbidden to see his girlfriend, since her father assumes Blade follows his father’s ways. Blade’s dad pushes his sister to have a big party to celebrate her record release. Attendees drink alcohol.