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Straight Punch
Cover of Straight Punch
Straight Punch

Tessa McPhail has a bad habit—tagging—that lands her at New Directions, an alternative school in Montreal's toughest neighborhood. The school is far from Tessa's home and full of troubled kids. To make matters worse, half of every school day is devoted to boxing. The other students think boxing is cool. Not Tessa, who cannot handle violence of any kind. But when a neighbor starts a petition to have New Directions closed down, Tessa discovers something worth fighting for, both in and out of the ring.

Tessa McPhail has a bad habit—tagging—that lands her at New Directions, an alternative school in Montreal's toughest neighborhood. The school is far from Tessa's home and full of troubled kids. To make matters worse, half of every school day is devoted to boxing. The other students think boxing is cool. Not Tessa, who cannot handle violence of any kind. But when a neighbor starts a petition to have New Directions closed down, Tessa discovers something worth fighting for, both in and out of the ring.

Available formats-
  • OverDrive Read
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    0
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    4.6
  • Lexile:
    620
  • Interest Level:
    UG
  • Text Difficulty:
    2 - 3

Recommended for you

About the Author-
  • Monique Polak is the author of more than thirty books for young people. She is the three-time winner of the Quebec Writers' Federation Prize for Children's and YA Literature for her novels Hate Mail, What World is Left and Room for One More. In addition to teaching at Marianopolis College in Montreal, Monique is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in Maclean's Magazine, the Montreal Gazette and other Postmedia newspapers. She is also a columnist on ICI Radio-Canada's Plus on est de fous, plus on lit! In 2016, Monique was the CBC/Quebec Writers' Federation inaugural writer-in-residence. Monique lives in Montreal.

Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    January 1, 2014
    A girl who can't stop "tagging"--spray painting her initials on buildings--is caught one too many times and sent to a struggling alternative school in a poor neighborhood in Montreal. The survivor of a terrible riot, Tessa fears violence of any kind, but her new school has one required extracurricular activity: All students must learn to box. The teacher holds academic classes in the morning, and a boxing coach trains both boys and girls in the afternoon. To her surprise, Tessa begins to enjoy her boxing lessons and grows attached to the little school and its hard-luck students. She's already friends with fellow tagger Pretty Boy, and she grows especially close to Jasmine, an Asian girl whose aunt has spent her fortune, leaving her destitute. All would be well, except that the woman who lives next door to their school takes exception to it and organizes an effort to force its closure. Tessa faces her most difficult test. Can she overcome her terror of public speaking and make the case for her school? Polak keeps her prose simple and straightforward, providing her readers with a suspenseful, insightful story that ticks off some hot buttons. The high-interest graffiti/boxing combo is supported by real affection for throwaway teens, resulting in a story that should have broad appeal. Though simple, the story provides both insight and entertainment. (Fiction. 12-17)

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    March 15, 2014
    Grades 7-10 After Tessa's tagging habit gets her expelled, she finds herself the newest student at New Directions, an alternative school for troubled teens, where half the day is spent boxing. Not aggressive or rebellious by nature, Tessa enters her new schooland the ringwith trepidation. But before long she begins to shed some of her fears and assumptions, discovering new sides to her personality and a true sense of community among her classmates. Trouble rears its head, however, when the neighbors begin petitioning to relocate the school, afraid of its delinquent students and their violent boxing regime. Polak tackles many tough issues hereteenage pregnancy, drug and alcohol use, theft, and prejudiceyet communicates a positive message about facing one's fears and taking control of one's life. There are few surprises in terms of plot, yet the solid writing and theme of empowerment make this worth noticing, particularly for teen girls looking for an extra round of self-confidence.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2014, American Library Association.)

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