Chris's Reviews > Why I Fight

Why I Fight by J. Adams Oaks
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's review
Jan 24, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: boy-book, lis722, realistic-fiction, ya

Wyatt lives in a dirty, littered apartment in the “city.” His parents work several jobs, and then go off on their own leaving him constantly alone. When the story opens, he has been alone for seven days and he has had enough. He goes into his parents’ room, finds some newspaper and lights it, enjoying the fire. When his parents finally return, they are more concerned about the house than Wyatt, and don’t even ask where he is. At the city shelter, Uncle Spade comes to take him away, and Wyatt gladly leaves. Unfortunately, life on the road is not much better. Uncle Spade is a traveling “salesman” selling whatever he can, and they are constantly on the road, living in his Chevy. No school, no friends and no life for Wyatt. When Spade discovers Wyatt’s potential as a bare fist fighter, the two travel across America for the next six years living off Wyatt’s earnings and the goodness of Spade’s lady friends. Through it all Wyatt is growing bigger and stronger and angrier, longing for love, friendship or even a kind word. When his last fight ends defeat, Wyatt has had enough and goes home. His dad concocts a get rich scheme, buying a parking lot with Wyatt’s fighting money, but Wyatt has finally had enough parental abuse and leaves.
The end of the novel is despairing--yet contains hope and optimism- What is Wyatt going to do now?

My Comments:
This is no holds barred, gritty, gut wrenching piece of realistic fiction. Wyatt’s pain, seeps slowly from every page. His parents are role models for child abuse (more mental than physical) and this book is a great example of how a child’s life and potential can be affected by their circumstances and how they are treated. The characters are well developed and interesting, especially Wyatt’s crazy Nana who wants him to go to church and actually uses the “love” word on him, Spade’s lady friend, Lynnesha , who Wyatt would like to live with, and Clark, Wyatt’s would be friend, who goes to school and explains things to him. Wyatt tells us his story in the fractured grammar of an undereducated teen. The sentences are short but highly descriptive - “her eyes looked full of lard” (Wyatt’s description of Nana) At only 220 pages it is a quick read and should appeal to reluctant readers. “Bad” stuff includes a few swear words, drug dealing, alcohol, and a stripper joint. For this reason, I would say this book would be better for older teens.


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