“I’ve discovered that a few things are almost impossible to talk approximately because they’re things no one desires to know,” says Delicious Neveah Roberts, the narrator of Newbery Honor author Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s incredible Fighting Words. The 10-year-vintage, who goes by way of Della, already sports activities a tattoo and openly admits that she has a “large mouth” and that her superpower is, “I don’t take snow from anybody.” (Della makes use of the word “snow” as a substitute every time she’d as a substitute use a “terrible word,” which is frequently.) “Sometime you’ve got a story you want to find the braveness to tell,” Della informs the reader with characteristic directness.
Della is inseparable from her 16-year-vintage half-sister, Suki. Their mother changed into incarcerated in Kansas after blowing up a resort room at the same time as making meth with both ladies at her side. Her parental rights had been terminated, and the women fell thru the cracks and endured to live with Clifton, their mother’s boyfriend, in Tennessee. As the e-book opens, the ladies have simply made a bold break out from Clifton’s residence and feature been positioned into foster care after Suki stuck Clifton abusing Della. Della famous, “I’d had sixty seconds of terror. Suki had had years.”
Bradley depicts the girls’ story, consisting of Clifton’s abuse, directly but gently, in a manner that never once feels beside the point for a center grade readership. She cautiously recounts the aftermath of their trauma (Suki has screaming nightmares and tries suicide) as the ladies are located first in brief care with a girl Della describes as an “emergency alternative witch” after which with cigarette-smoking Francine, approximately whom Della observes there is “nothing motherly,” however who seems to be exactly the protector the sisters so desperately need.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley well-knownshows why Fighting Words is the ebook she changed into put on earth to write.
Della makes a few buddies at her new school, maximum drastically Neveah, with whom she shares her middle name. As Della and Suki debate whether and how to testify towards Clifton, Della clashes with her trainer and a bully named Trevor, who likes to pinch ladies’ backs to see whether they’re sporting bras. These tensions culminate in a powerful moment in which Della proclaims, “Never contact me again. Never touch me or any girl on this class without permission ever again.”
In all truthfulness, I become reluctant to examine Fighting Words when I learned about the topics its plot would include. “How depressing,” I thought. But oh, how incorrect I changed into. Bradley handles these tough subjects in ways which might be enlightening, empowering and—yes—uplifting, thanks largely to the irrepressible Della’s enticing narrative voice, which itself is a testament to Bradley’s huge talent.
As their friendship deepens, Della’s buddy Neveah, whose own family lost their condominium and in brief lived out in their car, lends her a replica of Barbara O’Connor’s How to Steal a Dog. Though Della fails to connect to O’Connor’s tale of another woman in a “hard spot,” Neveah’s articulation of the ebook’s significance in her lifestyles is positive to be echoed with the aid of a few readers of Fighting Words: “I was glad, you know, to read the ebook. To comprehend it didn’t best manifest to me.”
An award-worthy story approximately a feisty survivor, Fighting Words is a tale readers will draw strength from, and Della is a heroine they’ll be not going to forget.