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Tag: Boxing

Book Review: That Night

That Night – Amy Giles – HarperTeen – Published 23 October 2018

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Synopsis

One night in March, a terrible tragedy shakes the Queens neighborhood where Jessica Nolan and Lucas Rossi live.

The year since the shooting has played out differently for Jess and Lucas, both of whom were affected by that night in eerily similar, and deeply personal, ways. Lucas has taken up boxing and lives under the ever-watchful eye of his overprotective parents, while trying to put good into the world through random acts of kindness — to pay back a debt he feels he owes the universe for taking the wrong brother.

Jess struggles to take care of her depressed mother, with the help of her elderly next-door neighbor, and tries to make ends meet. Without her best friend, who’s across the country at a special post-trauma boarding school, and her brother, who died that night, Jess feels totally alone in the world.

When Jess and Lucas’s paths cross at their shared after-school job, they start to become friends… and then more.

Their community — and their families — were irrevocably changed by a senseless act of violence. But as Jess and Lucas fall in love, they’ll learn to help each other heal and move forward — together.

My thoughts

What happens when you survived but your brother didn’t? What do you do when your family is falling apart or panic grips you by the throat, when you are not sure why you were the one who survived? That Night by Amy Giles presents a unique perspective on gun violence, focusing entirely on the survivors and the emotional fallout from the loss. That Night is romantic and a powerful, emotional story of surviving and learning to live again.

Everything changed that night. Families. The way people looked at and treated you. You. A year ago Jess lost her brother in a shooting that shattered her world. Now her mother hardly gets out of bed and Jess needs to find a job to pay the bills. Lucas took up boxing after his brother sacrificed himself to save Lucas. But the boxing sometimes can’t control his panic attacks that seem to be increasing in frequency or the consuming guilt. Lucas and Jess are now tied together by tragedy, but when they start working together they find that shared memories might make for a wonderful friendship and even romance.

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Book Review: Becoming Aurora

Becoming Aurora

Becoming Aurora – Elizabeth Kasmer – University of Queensland Press – Published 19 September 2016

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Synopsis

Tonight we are wolves. Our pack moves as one, past empty shop fronts and faded billboards.

Sixteen-year-old Rory is at a crossroads in her life. While her gang plans its next move in a racially motivated turf war, Rory is sentenced to spend her summer at an aged care facility. She’s proud of taking the rap for a crime her gang committed and reading to a feisty old boxing champion isn’t going to change that.

But what happens when Rory’s path intersects with migrant boxer Essam’s and she becomes the victim, not the perpetrator? Can she find the courage to face her past and become the girl her dad called Aurora?

My thoughts

Becoming Aurora is a beautifully told story of a young girl’s journey from a place of hatred and misunderstanding to friendship, acceptance, and choosing to become who she would rather be.

Becoming Aurora touches on some timely topics, namely racism and prejudice. But it never feels preachy, because while those topics are addressed it is Aurora (Rory) who lies at the heart of this story. It is her story. It’s not a grand, fix-everything kind of story, it instead focuses on one girl. It may be about changing the world, but though one person at a time.

There is just something about Rory that grabbed me right from the start. She has so many things going on in her life – her father’s recent death and the guilt she feels over that, minding her younger brother, a mother who works many long hours to care for them, her friend Cam who seems to be changing so quickly, her friends who have grown increasingly antagonistic, and her having to face the fallout alone over their last attack. When we start this book Aurora has been sentenced to community service at the local nursing home. While her friends focus in on their next target she is stuck weeding gardens and washing dishes. And reading to the resident grouch. But she slowly gets to know the mysterious resident Jack and through him meets Essam, a local boxer.

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