by Kwame Alexander, Mary Rand Hess


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New York Times bestselling authors Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess (Solo) tell this lyrical story about hope, courage, and love that speaks to anyone who’s struggled to find their voice. And the surprise ending shines a spotlight on the issues related to our current social divide, challenging perspectives and inspiring everyone to make their voice heard.

When America is not so beautiful, or right, or just, it can be hard to know what to do. Best friends Walt and Noah decide to use their voices to grow more good in the world, but first they’ve got to find cool.

Walt is convinced junior year is their year, and he has a plan to help them woo the girls of their dreams and become amazing athletes. Never mind that he and Noah failed to make the high school baseball team yet again, and Noah’s love interest since third grade, Sam, has him firmly in the friend zone. Noah soon finds himself navigating the worlds of jazz, batting cages, the strange advice of Walt’s Dairy Queen-employed cousin, as well as Walt’s “Hug Life” mentality. Status quo seems inevitable until Noah stumbles on a stash of old love letters. Each page contains the words he’s always wanted to say to Sam, and he begins secretly creating artwork using the lines that speak his heart. But when his private artwork becomes public, Noah has a decision to make: continue his life in the dugout and possibly lose the girl forever, or take a swing and finally speak out?

At the same time, numerous American flags are being left around town. While some think it’s a harmless prank and others see it as a form of peaceful protest, Noah can’t shake the feeling something bigger is happening to his community. Especially after he witnesses events that hint divides and prejudices run deeper than he realized.

As the personal and social tensions increase around them, Noah and Walt must decide what is really true when it comes to love, friendship, sacrifice, and fate.


  • Is written by New York Times bestselling author and Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Honor Book Award-winner Kwame Alexander
  • Is a young adult fiction novel told through Kwame’s one-of-a-kind free-verse poetry
  • Is ripe with themes of hope, courage, and love
  • Masterfully combines jazz, art, baseball, friendship, and love into what many are calling “Kwame’s best book yet”
  • Tackles some of the most painful social issues of today, including racial prejudice

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310761945
Publisher: Blink
Publication date: 07/23/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 43,642
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 13 - 17 Years

About the Author

Kwame Alexander is the New York Times Bestselling author of 32 books, including The Undefeated; How to Read a Book; Solo; Swing; Rebound, which was shortlisted for prestigious Carnegie Medal; and his Newbery medal-winning middle grade novel, The Crossover. He’s also the founding editor of Versify, an imprint that aims to Change the World One Word at a Time. Visit him at Kwame Alexander.com

Mary Rand Hess is a poet, mixed-media artist, screenwriter, and New York Times bestselling author of Solo and Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures, both coauthored with Kwame Alexander.

Customer Reviews

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Swing 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous 5 months ago
This was just a good, solid book with Kwame's wonderful voice and rhythm. But then you get to the gut-punch at the end. Whoa. Powerful.
Take_Me_AwayPH More than 1 year ago
I read this because I thought it was a companion to their other novel together, Solo, but Swing is actually its own story. It was an interesting read, but unfortunately, not something I can see myself reading more than once. Although this was okay, I'm not a huge fan of novels in verse and this got in the way of me loving this one. Noah doesn't always have the best of luck. Him and his best friend have been cut from the baseball team more than once, he's had a crush on his other best friend for years, but she won't look at him as anything but a brother. Noah begins to get advice from Swing's cousin, who turns out not to know what he's talking about. Noah decides to give up, and keeping swinging in life until he strikes out. The main thing I didn't care for about this book was the writing style. I'm not sure if it was my struggle with verse novels or the fact that this story just didn't work in this style, but I was not a fan. It felt extremely choppy and like way too much was missing. It felt like plot twists kept coming out of nowhere when no other part of the story was about that. And I never connected with most of the characters. The one I did connect with was Noah. But everyone else never really made sense or they were so extra it seemed as if they didn't fit the story. And the love interest really ticked me off at one point. She couldn't talk to him after they'd been friends for so long? It just seemed unrealistic to me. I get she didn't want to mess up her friendship, I've been in that situation before, but to do what she did could have really hurt him. Although the synopsis really tells the story, this one is still full of surprises. It's not my cup of tea, but it might still be someone else's. There's alot of teens at my branch who love poetry and love Kwame Alexander, so I'll display this one at the branch, but it still wasn't my favorite. I think I'll stick to recommending Crossover, Rebound, and Solo.
JozefSyndicate More than 1 year ago
Swing Wow. Poetry with guts, sensitivity, and purpose at a time when so many things are far from copacetic. This #HugLife "movement" is one lodestar for the generation. Take Kwame Alender/Mary Rand Hess' "Swing" and "The Hate You Give" by Angie Thomas into every home, every classroom, every teen organization, every heart--and right America's wrongs lovingly. 5+-star.
ReadWriteSparkleCoffee More than 1 year ago
Love Politics Friendship Baseball School-Days Family Growing Up Themes blended through lyrical anecdotes reminding me of past & present days. Verse A List Letters Blackout Poetry Narration Words written in a variety of ways to capture my attention. Joy Heartbreak Pride Fear Despair Empowerment Feelings stirred within my soul as I experienced each and every page.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Swing is out in the world! I don’t want to say it’s ‘important’ because usually that means stuffy & more like medicine than engaging storytelling. This dynamic story is anything but stuffy. It is timely and will leave its mark on you. This power duo pack such thought-provoking content in the most engaging way. My suggestion is to snag the audio along with a hardcover and read them together. Swing is a treat for the eye, the ear and the heart. They swung it out of the park. Enjoy reading!
TheNovelEndeavor More than 1 year ago
I received a complimentary review copy of this book as a part of the Swing Launch Team. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 4.5 stars! "Swing" takes readers on a poetic journey of love, loss, and jazz. High school is notoriously rough; teenagers search for love, acceptance, identity, and security all while navigating the precarious whims of popular culture. Best friends, Walt (a.k.a. "Swing") and Noah have a friendship that defies the lackluster odds. For better or worse, they have each others' back. Walt's success is a victory for Noah, while Noah's heartbreak cuts right to the core of Walt, as well. I loved the ways these two friends pushed each other to take risks, to pursue their dreams, and to be the best versions of themselves. Authors Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess packed a whole lot of important stuff within the pages of this book. Themes such as post-traumatic stress disorder, violence, friendship, romance, patriotism, and identity are interwoven throughout its poetic verses. In their own authentic style, Alexander and Hess expose readers to the issues of today through the beauty of art. Reading their work is more than just sitting down with a good book; through poetry, jazz music, and tactile creation they've orchestrated an experience. An experience that changes minds, transforms hearts, and compels readers to talk about important topics and to open dialogues in their communities about things that matter. It's difficult to review a book like "Swing" because it's one that just begs to be read and experienced by each and every person. It's a novel in verse for everyone. Also, it's challenging to talk about it without spoiling essential aspects of the experience. Take my advice: pick up "Swing" for yourself, read it, experience it, then come back and we can chat (or rant, rave, and exclaim really loudly together). You won't regret it. This review will be posted on my blog, The Novel Endeavor, on the publication date, October 2.