I hope that you all had a lovely day yesterday, regardless of whether or not you were celebrating Christmas. (Or, for that matter, whether or not you had the day off.)
Today, being December 26th, is Boxing Day. And while Boxing Day has nothing whatsoever to do with boxing-the-sport, it’s as good a time as any to look at some books that DO have to do with boxing-the-sport.
So let’s dive in! Oh, but actually, to stay on theme I suppose I should say... ring the bell?:
Zeroboxer, by Fonda Lee
Boxing in space! In this futuristic SF story—set on Mars, hooray!—our seventeen-year-old hero is working his way through and up the zeroboxing ranks when he gets involved with some sort of conspiracy. Kirkus praised this one especially for the worldbuilding, in that the world Lee creates will be largely familiar to readers, but with tweaks—for example, zeroboxing is very similar to boxing as we know it, but is fought in a zero-g cube, rather than with both feet on the ground in a ring.
In addition to being a sports novel set in a fully-realized future world, it ALSO—again, according to the Kirkus review—deals with prejudice, economic class, and issues around scientific ethics. I’ve been meaning to read this book for ages, and I think I just talked myself into trying to fit it in before the end of the year!
My Sister Rosa, by Justine Larbalestier
Seventeen-year-old Che is pretty sure that his ten-year-old sister, Rosa, is a psychopath. He’s been her protector and advocate her whole life—her behavior worries him, but he loves her—though after the upheaval of moving from Bangkok to New York City, he’s starting to suspect that it might be the world that needs protection from Rosa, not the other way around. ALSO, he’s falling hard for a girl at his boxing gym, so he’s especially distracted… just when he should be keeping a closer eye on Rosa than usual.
I sneak-read the first few chapters of this book while I was shelving a little while back, and Rosa is IMMEDIATELY both fascinating and terrifying. I can’t wait to get back to it. Starred review.
The Ballad of a Broken Nose, by Arne Svingen
Translated from Norwegian—and recipient of a Mildred L. Batchelder Honor—this book is about a twelve-year-old opera lover as he navigates adolescent, poverty, bullying, and yes, boxing lessons. Reviews of The Ballad of a Broken Nose are mixed, with Kirkus calling it “lovely and profound,” while School Library Journal dinged it for portraying various prejudices—especially the fatshaming from the protagonist—without unpacking or pushing back against them.
Bloodline, by Joe Jiménez
I’m always here for prose by poets, and I’m definitely always here for retellings of Shakespeare—this book is both! It’s about seventeen-year-old Abraham, who is being pulled in two different directions by two very different people: his uncle Claudio, who wants him to enter the professional boxing world, and his girlfriend Ophelia, who wants him to work towards understanding the root of his aggression in order to calm it. Starred review.
Bird in a Box, by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Historical fiction set in 1936 about three twelve-year-old radio addicts and boxing fans. It sounds so lovely I can hardly even stand it—seriously, click through to the Kirkus review and I bet you’ll swoon all over the place like I did—and I CANNOT UNDERSTAND how it has flown under my radar for so long. Starred review.
The Greatest: Muhammad Ali, by Walter Dean Myers
We need a biography in here, right? Revisiting Ali’s story feels like a particularly apt choice right now, as the arc of his life is a solid reminder that while people who fight for social justice aren’t always appreciated in their own time, history eventually proves them right. Starred review.
Obviously, this is a tiny fraction of what’s out there, and I’ve mainly curated this list according to what books looked the most interesting to ME. If there’s one out there that you think I shouldn’t miss, let me know in the comments here or on Twitter!
In addition to running a library in rural Maine, Leila Roy blogs at Bookshelves of Doom, is currently serving on the Amelia Bloomer Project committee, is a contributor at Book Riot, hangs out on Twitter a lot—possibly too much—and watches a shocking amount of television. Her cat is a murderer.