“Swing” By Kwame Alexander, Mary Rand Hess

By: Kwame Alexander, Mary Rand Hess
Narrated by: Kwame Alexander
Length: 4 hrs and 8 mins
Release date: 10-02-18

This coming of age tells the story of two best friends Noah and Walt (a.k.a. Swing) as they make their Junior year in High School THEIR YEAR. All their lifelong dreams are going to be made real. From Walt finally getting to play on the high school baseball team (he may not be good, but he’s got heart) to getting Noah to finally ask out his lifelong crush.

As their year progresses they find the ups and downs of life are not always easily dealt with and soon learn more about themselves than they would have had they just kept going as normal.

My favorite part of this book is the use of Jazz music as their metaphor for life, from listening to jazz vinyl at the local thrift store to hiring of Walt’s uncles jazz band to entertain the party at Noah’s house, while his parents are on vacation. Everything is better with Jazz.

I will warn you this book is a tear-jerker, so just have the tissue ready.

Read by the author, this audiobook really stands out. Kwame Alexander’s delivery is perfect and will keep you in anticipation for the highs and getting those lumps in the throat for the lows. Great read/listen for all ages.

Publisher’s Summary

In this YA novel in verse from best-selling authors Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess (Solo), which Kirkus called “lively, moving, and heartfelt” in a starred review, Noah and Walt just want to leave their geek days behind and find “cool” but in the process discover a lot about first loves, friendship, and embracing life…as well as why Black Lives Matter is so important for all.

Best friends Noah and Walt are far from popular, but Walt is convinced junior year is their year, and he has a plan that includes wooing the girls of their dreams and becoming amazing athletes. Never mind he and Noah failed to make their baseball team yet again, and Noah’s crush since third grade, Sam, has him firmly in the friend zone. While Walt focuses on his program of jazz, podcasts, batting cages, and a “Hug Life” mentality, Noah feels stuck in status quo…until he stumbles on a stash of old love letters. Each one contains words Noah’s always wanted to say to Sam, and he begins secretly creating artwork using the lines that speak his heart. But when his art 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, American flags are being left around town. While some think it’s a harmless prank and others see it as a form of 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 important when it comes to love, friendship, sacrifice, and fate.


  • Is written and narrated by New York Times best-selling author and Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award winner Kwame Alexander
  • Features a diverse array of characters and perspectives
  • Tackles the biggest social issues of today, including racial prejudice and Black Lives Matter
  • Is perfect for the classroom or community-wide discussions
  • Is a 2020 YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
  • Contains original music

If you enjoy Swing, check out Solo by Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess. ©2018 Kwame Alexander, Mary Rand Hess (P)2018 Blink