CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 2. . . .September 11, 2015
An alcoholic and abusive father, a mother who abandoned him, a grandmother who kicked him out of the house and a foster family – life has not been easy for teenager Tyler Josten. The only solution Tyler can find in a tough situation is to fight, both verbally and physically, since this is all he has ever known. Fortunately Wayne and Charlene, Tyler’s foster family, are warm and compassionate and are willing to work with Tyler and help him overcome his past. Wayne quickly suggests that Tyler put his fighting attitude to good use and begins teaching him how to box, thus giving him an outlet for all of the emotion he has kept bottled up for so long and giving him the opportunity to prove himself.
Brent R. Sherrard has created an interesting antagonist in Tyler. Readers will feel sorry for him and yet, at the same time, will dislike his moodiness and aggressive behaviour. Wisely, the author does not give Tyler an easy and straightforward route to overcoming his past. Even after he resolves to be a better person, he slips into old habits of using drugs and picking fights. Just when he seems to be changing, a flashback from his past will occur and his anger and hatred boil up all over again. Only with channelling his physical energy into a strict training regimen and gradually accepting simple gestures, such as a hug from Charlene, does Tyler finally emerge as a person who knows what he wants and is prepared to turn himself around. He must learn to trust other people and work on being positive and optimistic in everyday situations.
Tyler’s biological family is no support for him. He runs from his abusive father and, for a short time, lives with his grandmother. She has little influence on him, and, when he gets into trouble with the police, she kicks him out of the house. His foster parents are completely different. Charlene is motherly, baking and cooking and doing what she can to help Tyler loosen up emotionally. Wayne sees the potential in the young man and helps Tyler begin to have self-esteem and confidence by involving him in the sport of boxing.
The novel is part of Lorimer’s “Sidestreets” series and thus is written in a straightforward manner intended to appeal to reluctant readers. The chapters are short, and the entire story moves quickly. Avid readers might like more background, but the intent of the series is to motivate those who usually choose to read, and so brevity is critical. The novel appears to be intended for male readers, with its emphasis on boxing and the cover art of a downcast young man dressed in a grey hoodie. However, Fight Back will have appeal for both male and female readers of any reading level since the story is one of overcoming obstacles in order to find and build on one’s strengths.
Fight Back deals with tough and somewhat controversial subjects as a matter of course, rather than being preachy. Wayne shows Tyler a different approach and the reasons for it but is wise enough to let the young man make his own decisions. Changing oneself and carefully putting back all of the broken pieces into a complete person takes time, energy and single-mindedness. Students who read this book may feel somehow broken as well, and Tyler provides an excellent role model for them.
Ann Ketcheson, a retired high school teacher-librarian who also taught English and French, lives in Ottawa, ON.
on this title or this review, send mail to email@example.com.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal
use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any
other reproduction is prohibited without permission.