Fighting Words

Fighting Words

Book - 2020
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Depending on an older sister who protected her when their mother went to prison and their mother's boyfriend committed a terrible act, 10-year-old Della tries to figure out what to do when her older sister attempts suicide.
Publisher: New York, New York : Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 2020
Copyright Date: ©2020
ISBN: 9781984815682
Branch Call Number: J FICTION BRADLEY
Characteristics: 259 pages ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

Ten-tear-old Della has always had her older sister, Suki: When their mom went to prison, Della had Suki. When their mom's boyfriend took them in, Della had Suki. When that same boyfriend did something so awful they had to run fast, Della had Suki. Suki is Della's own wolf--her protector. But who ... Read More »

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Sep 10, 2020

Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is an important book and the School Library Journal in there May 2020 review said, “You are free to dislike this book, but don’t take it away from the children who need it. After all, you may never even know who they are.”

I am an ex-elementary classroom teacher and elementary principal and I think this is an excellent and valuable book for parents, teachers, librarians, and of course - students, 10 and up to read. It is realistic fiction.

My working over 20 years in elementary schools leads me to report that this story is highly realistic with all of the complexity that I have encountered in my years. It is a sad reality that kids are abused. This topic is a difficult one to address with any kind of integrity for a young audience. Kimberly Brubaker Bradley has succeeded in writing a book that is outstanding in every way.

Della and Suki are sisters. Their mom is in jail several states away from them. They have different fathers and they don’t know who they are. After their mother was arrested and was incarcerated the sisters lived with the man who was mom’s boyfriend when she was arrested. He is the person who caused the abuse.

Allot of you, if you are still reading, may be thinking - what good could a story like this hold?

The Kirkus Review wrote in May 2020 about Fighting Words, saying: “The focus throughout, rightly, is on the aftermath of abuse, the content is accessible to middle-grade readers but not graphically conveyed. Believable and immensely appealing, Suki, Francine, and especially Della (all are white, though Della is a bit “browner” than Suki) light up what might have been an unremittingly bleak story: Charting a path to wholeness is hard enough; the human roadblocks they encounter make it nearly insurmountable. Readers will root for these sisters along every step of their daunting journey.”

Publisher’s Weekly awarded Fighting Words with a Star Review! And I am going to restate what the School Library Journal review said, “You are free to dislike this book, but don’t take it away from the children who need it. After all, you may never even know who they are.”

I recommend this book!

Sep 09, 2020

Difficult story told with sensitivity and compassion. Excellent word choice and pacing. Loved this book!


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"...some things are almost impossible to talk about because they're things no one wants to know." (p 50)


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