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Kirkus Prize Finalist
Horn Book Fanfare Best Book of the Year
School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
Kirkus Best Book of the Year
New York Public Library Best Book of the Year
Chicago Public Library Best Book of the Year
Bestselling author Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s confronting, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting story for young adults.
‘Parts of this story are scary, but trust me: no one needs to be afraid. Hope and love win out.’ Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Della can’t work out why her adored older sister Suki screams in her sleep. Suki has always been Della’s protector, especially after their mother went to prison and her boyfriend took the sisters in. But who has been protecting Suki?
Della is in trouble at school for having a big mouth, but after she stands up to the class bully other girls rally to her cause. When Suki tries to kill herself, Della decides it’s time to tell their secrets and speak out about the terrible things that happened to Suki. Bound by love and trauma, these two sisters must find their own voices before they can find their way back to each other.
Based on the author’s personal experience, this gripping and essential story explodes the stigma around child sexual abuse. Written from the heart, with tenderness, compassion and humour, Fighting Words is about finding the words to talk about the most difficult things in young adults’ lives.
‘Gripping. Life-changing. Essential. Fighting Words is a testament to the power we have when we stand up, speak up, and stick together. Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s talent is extraordinary. I am awe-struck.’
‘Rather than shielding her readers, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley arms them with Fighting Words, a compassionate, truthful, and beautiful story about the trauma of sexual abuse and the remarkable power of sisterhood.’
‘I am blown away. This is a powerful, necessary book about a difficult subject, written with honesty, tenderness, and consummate craft. Della’s story will burrow deep into your heart. Fighting Words may be Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s best work yet.’
‘Absolutely magnificent…I cannot get Della out of my head or my heart. Fighting Words is raw, it is real, it is necessary.’
‘I wish all children were lucky enough that the first time they encountered dark and difficult things, it was not through a swift and sudden rift in their real lives, but within the safe pages of a story. This beautiful, heartbreaking, and hopeful book is a place where readers can build strength and resilience, page by page, with the gift of opening, closing, and discussing in their own time and at their own pace. And for those who have, till now, felt alone in their hurtful past, this is a book that lets them know they have never been alone. And never will be.’
‘Fighting Words has so many important things to say about girls and their bodies, about agency, power and consent. Della and Suki’s story of sisterhood and found family can be challenging and affecting—it’s also funny, uplifting and ultimately triumphant. Books like this can change lives.’
‘Fighting Words deftly guides readers through some very dark places and safely back into the light. Della’s voice is feisty and true, her emotional journey compelling. Respecting its readership, this beautifully written novel deals in an unflinching but age-appropriate way with difficult material and will prompt important conversations. Highly recommended.’
‘We need more books like this. Unflinching, funny and important, Fighting Words is for all the forgotten kids, the ones who don’t fit in, the ones who are hurt. An exceptionally written story that takes you to dark places but where you never feel unsafe, a story to make you laugh and cry and wish for a better world. I could not put it down.’
‘Sharp characterizations by Newbery Honoree Brubaker Bradley (The War That Saved My Life) create an essential, powerful mirror and window for any reader’
‘Magnificent…An award-worthy tale about a feisty survivor, Fighting Words is a story readers will draw strength from, and Della is a heroine they’ll be unlikely to forget.’
‘Fighting Words meets the criteria of great children’s literature that manages to resonate with adults, too.’
‘This is an important and beautifully written story that is ultimately uplifting but should be given to a young person with the awareness that further discussion and support may be needed.’
‘When sisters Della and Suki are placed with a gruff but caring foster mother after escaping from their mother’s predatory boyfriend, Della gradually adapts to stability, while Suki experiences a mental health decline. Della’s tough, straightforward narration pulls no punches as she inspires others to tell their stories when and how they can. Brubaker Bradley’s sharp characterizations create an essential, powerful mirror and window for any reader.’
‘Gripping. Life-changing. Essential. Fighting Words is a testament to the power we have when we stand up, speak up, and stick together.’