The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe

Rate 3/5

“I always seemed to be right there, loving the wrong person, betting on the wrong dark horse.”

Michael has had a rough early start. His mom went to prison for stabbing his abusive father, he goes to live with his aunt and when his mom gets out of prison she takes his sister with her, not him. Being gay in a town where that’s not really accepted doesn’t help matters either, but his neighbor Bunny is fascinating and all he wants to do is be in her life. Be careful what you wish for because Bunny’s life is not as carefree as it seems and growing up is hard for everyone.

“My mom said it’s different when it’s the woman who’s violent. It strikes people as abnormal. Like, it’s natural for a guy to just ‘lose his temper,’ but if a woman does the same thing, then it’s a sign of something deeper wrong, like psychologically or almost metaphyscially.”

The Knockout Queen was a little hard for me to read at certain points. Not because of the writing style, Thorpe did a wonderful job. It was hard to read about these teenagers and the way their lives played out and intertwined with each other. Micheal has some beautiful and intense thought processes that come with growing up and learning who you are. There are hate crimes, abuse, sexual circumstances, and bullying woven throughout the narrative. I think for me the reason it was hard was because it is a sad reality of many teenagers. Life is hard and there are issues that you don’t know how to handle. Thorpe made two beautiful characters that were so fundamentally different yet needed each other to get by. Even when they are making choices that you know are bad decisions you understand their thought processes and their rationale. I wanted to just give Micheal and Bunny giant hugs and tell them it would all get better, even though I don’t believe either of those characters would enjoy that much.

“We were quiet. Skin care was a bond between us because both of us longed to be beautiful, even as we feared we were not and could never be, even as we were suspicious of the urge to be beautiful in the first place.”

I would recommend this book to those of you who enjoy a coming of age story. There are some hard topics tackled in this story and Thorpe goes through gracefully. It may be difficult for some readers, I know it was for me at certain points. The Knockout Queen was incredibly realistic and a story that you could definitely hear about in today’s society.

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