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The Boxer

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To see him toiling up the slope inch by inch, his breath coming fast, the tips of his hoofs clawing at the ground, and his great sides matted with sweat, filled everyone with admiration.

The Boxer – Nikesh Shukla – Heath Books The Boxer – Nikesh Shukla – Heath Books

I’m not claiming to have any answers to these problems. What I am saying is that education on these topics makes a difference. Talking about these issues makes a difference. You can read reports and talk at people all day long but reading a book like The Boxer can, for a short time, put you in the head of someone who is experiencing these things at full throttle and it can change your way of thinking. Nikesh Shukla’s contemporary YA novel is an interesting look at racism and how boxing can give a person discipline, confidence and self-respect but while it’s interesting to have a book look at white extremist radicalisation, Keir’s character and motivation is underdeveloped, as is his friendship with Sunny and I never bought into why Sunny wanted to save him, which is a shame because there’s a lot that’s good about this book and it’s worth a look. year-old Sunil (known as Sunny) moved to Bristol from London 3 months ago with his mum and dad. His dad has a heart condition and the family moved so he could get more specialised help but his dad’s condition has worsened and now he’s in a hospice while his mum works several low-paid jobs trying to keep things together in the flat that they rent. Quiet and reserved, his only friend is Madhu (the first person he met when he started his new college and the only other non-white person who goes there) and all he wants to do is focus on his studies to get into university, like his dad wants.

It’s where he also befriends Keir, rising star at the gym, and Sunny’s mentor. As the two become closer, Sunny is confronted with the escalating racism in Keir’s family, as it destroys their bond.

The Boxer Worksheets and Literature Unit for Teachers Free The Boxer Worksheets and Literature Unit for Teachers

Also testament to the character development is that I felt genuinely nervous for Sunny at certain points in the book. (To be fair, at least one of those was because he was doing a stupid thing, even if it was for someone he thought could still be a friend.) Which meant, at times, I was reluctant to read it almost, because I didn’t want to have my heart broken like that. This really captured the feeling of what it's like to be a minority ethnicity in the UK right now, to sometimes feel like you're surrounded by people who want to make you feel unwelcome and singled out, who don't want to understand you.Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review! Like in The Boxer, racists are feeling more confident and less afraid to spew their garbage in public places. If there’s one thing in books that really gets me sad, it’s the falling apart of friendships. Even for absolutely valid reasons like here. So, obviously, this book made me sad. Which, I guess, is testament to Nikesh Shukla’s writing and character development. I knew from the start that Keir would go down the route that he did (it’s pretty well-signposted, even with the blurb telling you), and yet I still found myself sad on Sunny’s behalf that he was losing a friend in this way, even as he built a family around himself.

The Boxer by Nikesh Shukla | Hachette Childrens UK The Boxer by Nikesh Shukla | Hachette Childrens UK

Roger the Boxer: I am just passing through’ by Roger Canon is an open and honest, no holds barred, no nonsense reflection by the author on his life. Filled with colourful characters and told by someone who was a part of a colourful crowd, this is Roger the Boxer’s story. There are elements of self reflection throughout and although truthfully describing the scrapes and predicaments he finds himself in over the years I liked that the author managed to maintain a more neutral tone – neither glorifying nor excessively condemning his past. This is a compelling and important new read by a much-loved author. Much as I love books about London, I appreciate that Nikesh Shukla explores a different city in this book, as we don’t see enough of the rest of Britain in YA.

LoveReading4Kids exists because books change lives, and buying books through LoveReading4Kids means you get to change the lives of future generations, with 25% of the cover price donated to schools in need. Join our community to get personalised book suggestions, extracts straight to your inbox, 10% off RRPs, and to change children’s lives. Featuring friendship dynamics, family relationships, racial slurs, far-right radicalisation, and the power to fight for what you feel is right and what truly matters in life, this YA story set over ten rounds of boxing is an interesting, powerful and motivational read for all ages. Although there is some violence and racial abuse, everything is handled with diplomacy but still manages to convey the genuine feelings of teenagers living in an ethnic society and how relationships suffer due to peer pressure and attitudes. However, this book does redeem itself in the fact I personally really enjoyed it towards the end. I know next to nothing about boxing, nor have any interest in it but I still found it entertaining. Sunny's character arc is fairly good. I would suggest this as a book to read when you have no others you desperately want to. it's okay, but not *that* okay.

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