The Knockout Queen

Knopf. Apr. 2020. 288p. ISBN 9780525656784. $26.95. F
When his mother is sent to prison for stabbing his abusive father, Michael, 11, is sent to live with his Aunt DeeDee. Next-door neighbor Bunny Lampert is the rich princess of North Shore. She 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 closeted 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 and focuses on volleyball and a dream of Olympic greatness, Michael meets up with men from Craigslist and begins a part-time job. An act of violent loyalty to Michael, who is bullied, throws Bunny into a legal battle she and her father are unprepared to fight. The resulting violence forces Michael to change his life and focus on his future.
VERDICT Thorpe’s (Dear Fang, with Love) coming-of-age tale set against a backdrop filled with hate and violence will captivate readers with its brutal honesty and unbreakable bonds of friendship. Recommended for fans of Emma Straub and Jami Attenberg.

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