Swing (Paperback)

Swing By Kwame Alexander, Mary Rand Hess Cover Image
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In this YA novel in verse from bestselling 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 by New York Times bestselling 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 reading for the classroom or community-wide discussions
  • is a 2020 YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
  • contains original artwork tied to the story

If you enjoy Swing, check out Solo by Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess.

About the Author

Kwame Alexander is a poet, an educator, and the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty-five books, including his Newbery Medal–winning middle grade novel The Crossover. Some of his other works include Booked, which was longlisted for the National Book Award; The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called LifeSwing; the picture books How to Read a Book and How to Write a Poem (coauthored with Deanna Nikaido), both illustrated by Melissa Sweet; and The Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, which was longlisted for the National Book Award and won the Caldecott Medal, a Newbery Honor, and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award. He is a regular contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition, currently serving as their poet ambassador. He lives in Virginia with his family. Visit his website at kwamealexander.com. 

Mary Rand Hess is a poet, playwright, screenwriter, composer, mixed-media artist, and New York Times bestselling author of notable and award-winning books. Some of her picture books include The One and Only Wolfgang: From Pet Rescue to One Big Happy Family; Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures; and Belong, a book near and dear to her heart. Whether she’s creating for the page, stage, or screen, Mary has many stories and poems to dream up and share.

Praise For…

Despite the easy flow of verse, there is a density to this story with its multiple elements. Lively, moving, and heartfelt. — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Product Details
ISBN: 9780310761945
ISBN-10: 0310761948
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publication Date: July 23rd, 2019
Language: English