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Fighting Words

4.68  ·  Rating details ·  9,216 ratings  ·  2,051 reviews
Ten-year-old Della has always had her older sister, Suki: When their mom went to prison, Della had Suki. When their mom's boyfriend took them in, Della had Suki. When that same boyfriend did something so awful they had to run fast, Della had Suki. Suki is Della's own wolf -- her protector. But who has been protecting Suki? Della might get told off for swearing at school, b ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published August 11th 2020 by Dial Books
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Kimberly Bradley I think it's suitable for fourth grade and up. …moreI think it's suitable for fourth grade and up. (less)
Julie Responsibly From what I've read, it seems this book was written with survivors in mind - but I want to give this to every pre-teen girl I know so that if/when som…moreFrom what I've read, it seems this book was written with survivors in mind - but I want to give this to every pre-teen girl I know so that if/when something happens to them (from full on abuse to bra-strap snapping) they will see it through the lens of this book. So many really important, real, and strong messages here for young girls. (less)

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As a child I had absolutely no interest in reading books that contained any kind of trauma. I had a kind of sixth sense about it, so throughout the years I studiously avoided Bridge to Terabithia, Julie of the Wolves, and anything else that might possibly be considered serious in some way. This wasn’t because there were any deep-seated issues in my own life that needed addressing. I just happened to be privileged enough to have the choice not to think about serious issues if I didn’t want to (a ...more
It took me a really long time to sit down and write this review. And quite honestly I'm not sure what to say; however, I do know that this is one of the best middle grade books that I've read in a very long time. It's not a easy read and it handles tough topics very well. CW: parent in jail, drug use not on page, but discussed, sexual abuse of minor, attempted sexual assault of minor, attempted suicide on page.

Fighting Words isn't the first book that I've read by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and it
Elyse Walters
Audiobook…. read by the author
….6 hours and 31 minutes

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is **brilliantly talented** [Newbery Honor and Schneider award winning author]…..
….geared for middle school…. but adults love her books too!

Indirectly… I must thank my friend Lisa (Lisa Vegan on Goodreads).
She introduced me to:
“The War That Saved Me” and its follow up
“The War I Finally Won” …
So…. I reached for
“Fighting Words”.

At the center of this tale are two sisters Della (10 )and Suki (16)….foster care c
Lisa Vegan
I loved the other three books I’ve read by this author (The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won, and Halfway to the Sky) but this one didn’t immediately grab me and I wasn’t sure how much I’d like it, but it grew on me relatively quickly. Then I loved it. All four books I’ve read by this author thus far I’ve given 5 stars.

I loved this book but most of the way through I wasn’t sure if this would be a 5 star or 4 star book for me. If I was still a bit uncertain at the end, the author
Rachel Reads Ravenously
Intense subject matter, but a really beautiful and wonderful story.
This was a gripping read, I instantly loved Della, I couldn't stop reading this one and ended up reading it in two sittings, I had to keep going to find out what happens to these characters.

Della and Suki have the same mum but different dads, now their mum is in prison they have to start a new life but the past is still very much with them.

The characters in this story are wonderful, I loved Della and would adopt her tomorrow, she is so funny, endearing and full of life. Della is a fighter and d
Anne Bogel
Oct 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
I adored Bradley's most recent historical novels, The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won, and I've long been looking forward to reading more of her work.

This new middle grade novel just came out in August, and while the contemporary story is a departure from her previous historical novels, past readers will spot common themes and familiar character types. 10-year-old Della promises us at the beginning of the book that she's going to tell us a whole story, and that some parts are h
Katie Ziegler (Life Between Words)
Incredible. And also incredibly difficult. This book tackles sensitive, horrific subject matter and does it with grace and wisdom and grit. But it is NOT a story for everyone. It’s a middle grade book, but it’s probably not suitable for every middle grader. And definitely not a young middle grader. But at the same time, this story will bring hope and light to a lot of kids. They’ll feel seen. They’ll feel known. Because, as this book says, 2/3 of all kids have to deal with some form of significa ...more
Nov 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An ampersand(&) = "an expectation for something more to occur." When Delicious (Della) Neveah Roberts decides to get a tattoo that defines her, this is what she got. Once you read Della--and Suki's-- story, you will be cheering them on with the hope they have inked on their wrists. This book is so timely as we continue to try to maintain necessary progress from #metoo. There are so many broken and hurt kids out there. How can we love them and help them to heal? This book shows us a way. It start ...more
Phil J
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was waiting to be written, and Kim Brubaker Bradley was the right person to write it.

If it is possible to write a direct, child-appropriate book about sexual abuse, then this is it.

This book is a compelling, empowering read. If you are holding off because you expect to feel depressed and dirty after reading it, then be assured that you will come out of this book stronger, wiser, and energized.

General comments
From a quality perspective, this book is tighter and has more internal logic
Oomph! This book bludgeons your heart. It serves up hard truths yet offers a pile of hope to wash them down.
May 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is middle grade book is difficult but important and I think the author deals with the subject matter appropriately (even though it may not be for every middle grader). It deals with topics like childhood sexual abuse, harassment, consent, inappropriate touching etc.

The book is narrated by 10 year old Della, who is fierce and brave. She has got a 'big mouth'; she likes strong and powerful words. She takes no crap from anybody and speaks up for herself and her friends.

I got a big mouth. That’
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bradley's wonderful The War That Saved My Life and The War I Finally Won deal with hard subjects: abuse, mental illness, grief, war. This one is no different. If anything, it's more piercing, because it's contemporary, which makes it feel more real, and it's about sexual abuse.

This is handled well. Bradley, herself a survivor, knows how to talk about these things in a way that doesn't pull any punches, but is readable. I was worried that this book would be too hard to read, but no, it was absol
Schizanthus Nerd
I could always count on Suki. Suki fixed everything.
Della has always been able to rely on Suki, her older sister. Suki has taken care of and protected Della her whole life. Now the sisters are in foster care and their mother’s boyfriend, Clifton, is in prison. Della keeps getting in trouble at school and Suki wakes up screaming each night.
I’ve learned that some things are almost impossible to talk about because they’re things no one wants to know.
I think we can sometimes underestimate the
Apr 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
After reading The War that Saved My Life and its sequel, I instantly knew I wanted to read this as soon as I came across it. Very tough subject matter with lots of Trigger Warnings, but a wonderful book. Love that it was narrated by one of my favorites - Bahni Turpin!
Franki Sibberson
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Such an important book. I read this one in 2 days and it will stay with me for a very long time. A must-read.
This is so hard to review.

I don't think children's books should shy away from heavy topics. Some of my favorite read-alouds address really heavy issues. Hatchet addresses divorce, adultery, and survival. The War That Saved My Life shows scenes of war, verbal and physical child abuse, and hints at an LGBTQ relationship. Those are just a few. Almost all the books that stick out as student favorites: White Bird, I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912, Ghost are the opposite of light and fluffy
Richie Partington
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, box2
Richie’s Pick: FIGHTING WORDS by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Dial Books for Young Readers, August 2020, 256p., ISBN: 978-1-9848-1568-2

“‘Til your world burns and crashes
‘Til you’re at the end, the end of your rope
‘Til you’re standing in my shoes, I don’t wanna hear nothing from you
From you, from you, ‘cause you don’t know
‘Til it happens to you, you don’t know how I feel”
-- Lady Gaga (2015)

“If you’ve been hurt, tell someone. Tell your parents if you can, or your teacher, or your doctor, or any othe
Nov 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
I liked this book better looking back on it than when I was reading it. I think the author's use of the word "snow" instead of cursing irritated me (38 times?)

In any case, KBB has written a book about sexual abuse that can be read by tweens/teens. How cool is that? Della has always been protected by her older sister, Suki, with her mother in prison for cooking meth. Upon the mother's incarceration, the system fails, allowing them to stay with the mother's boyfriend, Clifford, who was a long haul
Alex  Baugh
Life has not been easy for Della, 10, and her sister Suki, 17. They are both in foster care now that their mother is in prison for blowing up a hotel room cooking meth. Six years ago, they had been taken in by their mother's former boyfriend, Clifton, but he has now been arrested and is about to go on trial for child sexual abuse. Suki caught him attempting to sexually abuse Della and filmed what was going on while calling the police. Now, Della is expected to testify at Clifton's trial, but Suk ...more
Shaye Miller
Feb 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I bought this back in October through Audible, and finally got to it this week. I thought Bradley’s The War That Saved My Life duology was just fantastic (book #1 also took a Newbery honor) and I’ve enjoyed reading her thought-provoking blog posts, ever since. So clearly, she’s become an author I deeply trust to pull me into her stories and move me with the power of her words. TW: sexual abuse and suicide.

Ten-year-old Delicious (please call her Della), doesn’t take snow from anyone. She and her
Laura Harrison
Oct 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It has been taking me forever to write a review for this title. All I keep thinking about are the number of children and young adults that are going to be saved, rescued or have tragedy averted entirely because this book is in the world. I so hope every school or public library in the country purchases copies of Fighting Words. And categorizes it as a middle grade reader. Child sexual abuse horrifically exists for children in this age group. The author warns of upcoming difficult subject matter ...more
Deacon Tom F
May 30, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is a very important book for young people to read. It addresses real issues that are sadly happening in our society.

Topics of broken families, suicide,abuse and inappropriate touching are handled gently and are rope for discussion.

Great book that I highly recommend.

Angela Massengale
Oct 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I wish someone had given me this book when I was ten years old. Who knows the difference it could have made, knowing I wasn't alone. ...more
Molly Dettmann
I hate everyone who recommended this book to me because I just spent the morning crying my eyes out. Thanks ❤️
Oct 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I think that debate will continue if this is age appropriate for Newbery. Long Way Down was an honor book with some very serious language, events, and themes. Most people raved about that. I was in the camp of it being a book for YA awards instead. This book is told from the perspective of a 10 year-old that deals with very serious events: sexual abuse, absent parent, foster care, suicide and more. While all these don't seem like topics for our Newbery range- this book is very much appropriate f ...more
Sep 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
OOOF. If there had been a book with this summary/content from almost any other author, I probably wouldn't have picked it up--I don't tend to go for books about super dark topics, especially not in 2020 because, jeez. BUT I loved Kimberly Brubaker Bradley's previous books so much that I knew I had to read this one, and it is SO GOOD. Like, yes, emotionally devastating and I sobbed for like the last half of if. But at the same time there is a hopefulness and a strength here that keeps it from bei ...more
Erin Schwane
Sep 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is probably the most important book I've read this year. Although it's for middle level readers, I think teens and adults would be no less engaged and benefit just as much as younger readers. The way mental health and healing from trauma is discussed is perfectly straight-forward and so, so important. It's also nice to see a positive portrayal of foster care. ...more
Mary Lee
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: family, 2020
Such an important book. So thankful that Kimberly Brubaker Bradley made this accessible for younger readers. Della and Suki are characters that will be with me for a long time. If you have a daughter, make sure she reads this.

From the acknowledgements: "...a novel for ten-year-olds featuring sexual assault, a suicide attempt, foster care, homelessness, meth addiction, and eighty-six uses of the word snow." (She uses "snow" as a replacement for curses.)

This was a work of heart for Bradley. It is
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Today (August 11, 2020) is the publication date of my 18th book, Fighting Words. It's the book of my heart; the best work so far that I've done.

Today I woke up to writer friends announcing that it was my book's birthday. I woke up in a house filled with books. I woke up, as I went to sleep, surrounded by my family's love. I am so grateful.

Anyone can be a writer. All you need is the guts to see yo

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