Straight Punch

cover artStraight Punch by Monique Polak is a novel about a girl who gets expelled and has to attend an alternative school for troubled teens. The moral of the story is that appearances and first impressions can be deceiving. Everyone has a history that explains how they’ve ended up where they are. All of the youth at her new school seem intimidating and below her at first, but Tessa comes to see good in all of them.

Tessa is squeamish about all violence in the beginning and has anxiety about boxing being the primary physical education at her new school. The students learn different things in boxing class, depending on what’s going on in their life. Some learn discipline, some learn to channel their aggression, some learn how to stand up for themselves.¬†Art, especially street art is another main component of the story. Expressing themselves through art is important to many teens.

Alcoholism, gambling addiction, bullying, and teen pregnancy are all topics that arise in the novel.

*spoiler alert*

Trigger warning for women who have suffered a miscarriage. There is a descriptive scene that could bring back bad memories.



* I received Miracleville by Monique Polak as a submission for the YABA

This novel was clearly well-intentioned. It speaks to inclusiveness, involves an inter-faith couple, forgives past mistakes and has a positive representation of religion. I see the merits of such a book and I think turning a story of a tragedy into a feel good coming of age tale does take some doing.

That being said…. it just didn’t do it for me. The characters were over the top, the dialogue wasn’t natural enough and one plot point was very very icky.

It was a noble attempt that others will enjoy but I think my qualms with religion may have tainted my reading of it.