The Pewter Wolf Reads, which was lovely of him (thanks again!)
Gloves Off is the story of 16 year old, Lily, whose life is split into two parts - her at school, where she is bullied by her classmates because of her weight, and at home where she pretends that everything is okay because her family has its own share of struggles. When Lily is the victim of a particularly bad bullying incident, her dad encourages her to start training at a local boxing gym in an attempt to regain some of her or self-esteem and self-worth.
I've said it before, but I've always been in awe of authors who are able to pull off verse novels with such a parity of words but that still pack an emotional punch (pun intended). Such was the case with Gloves Off.
The main narrator of this book is Lily, sharing her painful experiences of bullying and toxic 'friendships' but there are also chapters dedicated to Lily's mum, which were an absolute surprise to me that added layers to this book. Lily is a great character and I was rooting for her all the way through, but I also found Lily's mum's voice to be really compelling and reading of her own struggles with her weight and the trauma that forces her to not leave her house. Both Lily and her mum are on their own journeys to building confidence and it was a joy to witness them both.
I was obviously enraged with the lack of action taken by Lily's teachers and school in not protecting Lily better in what was obviously a really bad situation. I'd have liked to have seen something more practical happening instead of karma but I also realise that these things happen and it isn't always realistic that schools would have adequate policies and procedures in place to protect students from bullying.
I'm really here for these stories about sport that are encouraging positive aspects of boxing like gaining self-confidence. In Lily's case, she does get fitter but she also gains skill in boxing, she finds friends and a crush in the shape of Rose, another boxer at the gym.
Gloves Off was a wonderful story of fighting through adversity and discovering your own strength. Plus, boxer girls kissing!