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Fighting Ruben Wolfe

by Markus Zusak

Published by U.S. edition: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2001
219 pages
ISBN: 0-439-24188-X

Ages 12 - 16

In a stunning U.S. debut, Australian novelist Markus Zusak chronicles the struggles to two teenage brothers growing up in a close-knit working class family. Awkward Cameron admires his slightly older brother, Ruben, who seems to excel at everything Cameron values, from romance to athletics. The two are used to sparring in their backyard, sharing a single pair of boxing gloves between them, so when the opportunity arises for them to earn a bit of pocket money by participating in amateur boxing matches, they readily agree. Not surprisingly, Ruben quickly rises to the top, while Cameron, the underdog, battles continually just to stay in the ring. The boys' boxing matches become a subtle metaphor for their lives as Wolfes, a resilient family that pulls together in hard times, too proud to accept government assistance when their dad's out of work. Above all, Zusak's fast and funny novel is about the complex relationship between two brothers who obviously care deeply for each other but can't talk about it except through the good-natured barbs they exchange like punches and counter punches. Winner, CCBC Printz Award Discussion CCBC categories: Fiction for Young Adults. (KTH; June 11) 2001 Cooperative Children's Book Center

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