Adult Fiction book review

The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe

the-knockout-queen-1Originally published in Library Journal, March 1, 2020.

When his mother is sent to prison for stabbing his abusive father, Michael, 11, is sent to live with his aunt DeeDee. The next-door-neighbor, Bunny Lampert, is the rich princess of North Shore, having lost her mother in a car accident and her father is an alcoholic and crooked real estate developer. During high school, the athletic girl who wants for nothing and gay boy who lives a frugal life become best friends, finding common ground in a lack of adult supervision and painful home lives in the California suburbs. As Bunny grows taller at a rapid rate and focuses on volleyball and a dream of Olympic greatness, Michael meets up with men from Craig’s List and begins a part-time job.  An act of violent loyalty to Michael, who is bullied for his lifestyle, jettisons Bunny into a legal battle she and her father are wholly unprepared to fight. The resulting hate crime as retaliation to Michael forces him to change his lifestyle and focus on his future. Thorpe’s coming-of-age tale set against a backdrop filled with hate and violence will captivate readers for its brutal honesty and unbreakable bonds of friendship. VERDICT: Recommended for fans of Emma Straub and Jami Attenberg.


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