Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (#QP2023) Featured Review of Punching Bag by Rex Ogle

Punching Bag
by Rex Ogle
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Imprint: Norton Young Readers
Release date: October 5, 2021
ISBN: 9781324016236

In this autobiographical follow up to his first book Free Lunch, we follow Rex as he struggles through his teen years in a home full of domestic violence. On a daily basis Rex witnesses or endures beatings and arguing between his family members. To survive Rex does everything he can to protect his younger brother and imagines his deceased sister as a guardian angel guiding him through the darkest moments. As things begin to spin more and more out of control in his home, Rex must find a way to survive and stay safe, not only physically but also mentally.

Ogle writes in a clear, to the point style that doesn’t mince words. Although many things in this book are hard to read, Ogle makes the story hard to put down by creating well defined characters and realistic dialogue. He hooks the reader in with relatable characters that are often not seen in nonfiction, and does so with ease and conviction. Ogle’s story is not his alone, and this book should be read by teens who, like Ogle, are struggling with violence or know someone who is.

This book is for readers who like honest, true stories that discuss hard yet real subjects. For another read about survival and abuse check out Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes. Recommend Ball Don’t Lie by Matt De La Pena for another honest, easy to read story about teen boys overcoming hardship.

– Rachel Adams

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

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Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers Blogging Team @ YALSA's The Hub.