Monday 22 June 2020

Review: The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe

A dazzling and darkly comic novel of love, violence, and friendship in the California suburbs

Bunny Lampert is the princess of North Shore⁠--beautiful, tall, blond, with a rich real-estate-developer father and a swimming pool in her backyard. Michael⁠⁠--with a ponytail down his back and a septum piercing⁠--lives with his aunt in the cramped stucco cottage next door. When Bunny catches Michael smoking in her yard, he discovers that her life is not as perfect as it seems. At six foot three, Bunny towers over their classmates. Even as she dreams of standing out and competing in the Olympics, she is desperate to fit in, to seem normal, and to get a boyfriend, all while hiding her father's escalating alcoholism. Michael has secrets of his own. At home and at school Michael pretends to be straight, but at night he tries to understand himself by meeting men online for anonymous encounters that both thrill and scare him. When Michael falls in love for the first time, a vicious strain of gossip circulates and a terrible, brutal act becomes the defining feature of both his and Bunny's futures⁠⁠--and of their friendship. With storytelling as intoxicating as it is intelligent, Rufi Thorpe has created a tragic and unflinching portrait of identity, a fascinating examination of our struggles to exist in our bodies, and an excruciatingly beautiful story of two humans aching for connection.

Review: Wow! Talk about realness, this book has it in spades. I went into this novel not knowing a whole lot about it and if I hadn’t already known that it was fiction I would have taken this book to be a memoir or biography of sorts. I let myself get lulled into that kind of nonfiction tone because this book does read as someone telling you their life story. I did this on audio and so I let the narrator tell me about his life, his feelings and his troubles and I enjoyed every moment of it. 

This is definitely a dark read but coming from a very real place. There are moments of beauty but also moments of pure horror but that is real life and that is obviously where this book is coming from. This book shows what it is like for those of us in society who are not deemed to be ‘norma’ and who don’t ‘fit in’ and how important having a support network is, especially when that is the case. 

Bunny and Michael are really interesting and intriguing characters and I love how overtly different they are from one another and also from everyone else they go to school with. They have that inner turmoil of wanting to fit in with their peers but also knowing that there is something special about them and something which was meant to stand out and it was truly wonderful watching them come to terms with that and watching them bond over that. 

There are definitely some really really dark moments in this book and I loved how honest and real it was but there were also moments of just pure beauty and also moments that made me laugh out loud. I love how this author gave us an ending and allowed us to revisit Michael and Bunny at points in the future. I really enjoyed this book. It comes with some care warnings for sure but if you’re good with the synopsis then I highly recommend this novel to you. 

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

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