Fighting Words

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Realistic novel 259 p. Newbery Honor Book 5 stars

Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is one of the best novels I’ve read in a long time. Her previous books The War that Saved My Life and The War I finally Won are very popular in my library and I think students would like this book as well. It isn’t always easy reading this novel as the topics of abuse can be raw and heart-breaking. But there is a lot of hope in the book as well. Della and her older sister Sookie find themselves in foster care with Francine. This is after their mother abandons them and they are left to live with her ex-boyfriend, who is an evil and sick man. They run away from him after Sookie comes home early to find him trying to assault Della. Francine, their new foster-mother is a no-nonsense person but shows the girls a lot more understanding than the other adults in their lives.

Della’s tells the story in a funny and straight forward manner. She uses the word snow as a substitute for curse words and confronts things head-on. She also becomes fascinated with wolves and wants to travel to Montana to see them. She compares her sister Sookie and herself to wolves as well. Sookie is dealing with depression and PTSD as she struggles to come to terms with her own abuse and taking care of Della. She has never been able to be a child–she has always had to take care of someone. I highly recommend this book and I hope teachers share this with their students.

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