Publisher: Knopf / Penguin Random House Audio
Release Date: April 28, 2020
Genre: Coming-of-Age / Literary Fiction /LGBTQ
Rufi Thorpe returns to the subject that made her debut novel The Girls from Corona del Mar so endlessly compelling: the complexity and urgency of best friendship. In The Knockout Queen two unlikely friends form an alliance—a slight, hyper-intelligent gay teen named Michael Hesketh and his next-door neighbor, the remarkably tall Bunny Lampert. Each is antagonized for their differences—Michael for being attracted to the “wrong” people (much older men from the Internet) and Bunny for having the “wrong” body, one with a strength she can’t always control. As their bond intensifies, an accidental act of violence leaves both characters, and their friendship, forever transformed.
The Knockout Queen is about the lengths we go to protect our friends, and what happens when the binding threads of love are stretched to their snapping point. This is Rufi Thorpe at her finest: intoxicatingly charismatic storytelling, a compelling, seductive talent with every sentence.
One word to describe The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe is WOW. The writing, the content, everything about this book is heavy hitting and I had a hard time putting it down. It is beautiful, but at the same time it is one of the saddest and most depressing books I have read in a long time. Not much goes right for Michael or Bunny besides their friendship, and this book deals with a ton of hard, but important subjects.
I did just the audio of The Knockout Queen and the narrator Michael Crouch did a very good job with it. I could easily picture him as the character Michael Hesketh, and his emotion while reading it even got me a little emotional. I’m a bit surprised I didn’t cry during this book considering how sad and disturbing a lot of the content is, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t feel it in my heart. I wouldn’t read it unless you are completely in the mood for a book like this, but it is a touching coming-of-age novel that will certainly make you feel things.
The theme of friendship is strong throughout the novel, and I loved that Michael and Bunny had each other since they both have very rough lives. It’s probably best if I don’t say too much more, but just be aware The Knockout Queen is very dark and there will be triggers for some people, but I think it is an incredibly important read and I’m glad I did the audio.
MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5