Straight Punch

  • Pages:256
  • Publisher:Orca Book Publishers
  • Themes:friendship, making new friends, boxing, romance, acceptance
  • Available:03/01/2014
  • Age Groups:Fiction Ages 12+
  • Lexile:HL620L
  • ATOS:4.6
  • Fountas & Pinnell Text Level Gradient:Z+
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Tessa McPhail has a bad habit—tagging—that lands her at New Directions, an alternative school in Montreal’s toughest neighborhood. The school is far from Tessa’s home and full of troubled kids. To make matters worse, half of every school day is devoted to boxing. The other students think boxing is cool. Not Tessa, who cannot handle violence of any kind. But when a neighbor starts a petition to have New Directions closed down, Tessa discovers something worth fighting for, both in and out of the ring.
"Polak keeps her prose simple and straightforward, providing her readers with a suspenseful, insightful story that ticks off some hot buttons. The high-interest graffiti/boxing combo is supported by real affection for throwaway teens, resulting in a story that should have broad appeal. Though simple, the story provides both insight and entertainment."
– Kirkus Reviews
"A unique story...It was well written and I loved how Tessa grew as a person throughout her rough experiences."
– Bethesda Teen Reads
"Polak excels at portraying her characters...[She] also provides a behind-the-scenes look at boxing and some of the dynamics involved when two people must be trained to fight each other. Issues of teen pregnancy and homosexuality are handled with care...Fans of Playing with the Boys...will enjoy this book, as will anyone looking for strong relationships without romance."
"Tessa’s backstory is fully fleshed out and explains her aversion to violence following an out-of-control hockey brawl that left her scarred. Tessa’s character represents how many feel about violent sports and as she grows to the sport and embraces it, readers will too."
– Southwestern Ohio Young Adult Materials Review Group
Junior Library Guild (JLG) Gold Standard Selection   | 2014  |  Commended
Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) Quick Picks   | 2015  |  Commended
Quebec Writers' Federation (QWF) Literary Awards - Janet Savage Blachford Prize for Children’s and Young Adult Literature   | 2014  |  Short-listed
CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens   | 2014  |  Commended
Bank Street College of Education Children's Book Committee Best Children's Books of the Year   | 2015  |  Commended
Stellar Book Award   | 2015  |  Nominated