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Fighting Words

4.75  ·  Rating details ·  1,645 ratings  ·  530 reviews
Ten-tear-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, 256 pages
Published August 11th 2020 by Dial Books
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Average rating 4.75  · 
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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
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
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
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
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 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Phil Jensen
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
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.
Oomph! This book bludgeons your heart. It serves up hard truths yet offers a pile of hope to wash them down.
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
Ms. Yingling
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Richie Partington
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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
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
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
Molly Dettmann
I hate everyone who recommended this book to me because I just spent the morning crying my eyes out. Thanks ❤️
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.
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
FIGHTING WORDS is the story of Della, a fourth grader living in foster care with her older sister Suki after their de facto stepfather molested them.

Della is angry, rightfully so. She won’t show how much she’s hurting, hiding beneath her tough exterior. She doesn’t realize Suki is also suffering from the after effects of sexual abuse until it’s almost too late.

I can’t express how much I loved FIGHTING WORDS. Kimberly Brubaker Bradley did a masterful job crafting an age appropriate middle grade b
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.
lucy  Ü
Sep 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
this book was absolutely amazing. like ridiculously incredible actually. there has got to be more books like this - books that talk about sexual abuse. and yes, that's a dark topic. and not one that many want to hear about. BUT IT NEEDS TO BE TALKED ABOUT. BECAUSE 2/3 OF KIDS ARE/HAVE BEEN SEXUALLY ABUSED IN THEIR LIFE. TWO-THIRDS. that is far too many. enough with the crap and let's start talking about these issues and listening to kids and people who tell us what's going on and start BELIEVING ...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
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So snowing good! Definitely hard topics, but perfectly executed. And I didn’t expect it to be so funny! I cried some, but I laughed a lot more and it ends on such a hopeful and triumphant note.
Jun 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrensbooks
I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Bradley puts the "real" in realistic fiction. Real with a capital R. I have read other stories about children in foster care (One for the Murphys, The Great Gilly Hopkins) but none of them were as rang as true or was so painfully honest. I think of all of the "Dellas" who were in my classes. I was not ever able to give them a book that reflected their experiences. Now there is one. I hope someone gives it to them. I am grateful ...more
Jun 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading FIGHTING WORDS by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. It’s an absolutely amazing and powerful story. My heart hurt for sisters, Della & Suki. Their bond and resilience is inspiring and will benefit readers who have gone through sexual abuse and learn about resources available to assist in healing.

FIGHTING WORDS is a book that belongs in every library.

ARC provided by author.
This book releases August 11, 2020
High Plains Library District
This "own voice" juvenile, chapter book by award winning author Kimberly Brubaker Bradley could be very helpful for children going through tough times. It's important for them to know there are people who care about them and want to help them. There are many people who have similar experiences that are available to listen and give advice.

The subject matter of this book is serious and frightening but the way it is written is not and children can read this and likely relate to the characters or h
thewoollygeek (tea, cake, crochet & books)
Powerful and very emotional read, written really well and I loved the narration via Della who isn’t afraid to speak up, the message we should be listening to children and also educating them is done so well , a book that should be read by all, not just its intended audience.

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
Jerry Jennings
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is an important book and the School Library Journal in there May 2020 review said, “You are free to dislike this book, but don’t take it away from the children who need it. After all, you may never even know who they are.”

I am an ex-elementary classroom teacher and elementary principal and I think this is an excellent and valuable book for parents, teachers, librarians, and of course - students, 10 and up to read. It is realistic fiction.

My working ov
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 12-and-13
Everyone who thinks middle-grade books can't tackle serious topics need to read this book.

Fighting Words is probably the most intense middle grade book I've ever read. Our 10 year old protagonist Della has depended on her 16 year old sister Suki her whole life. Their mother was taken away after her meth addiction lead to a psychotic break that almost killed both sisters and she and Suki have just entered foster care after the man they'd been living with is arrested. Della is loud and has no qual
Melanie Dulaney
Bradley has written a powerful and necessary book for students 6th grade and up. Sadly, the numbers of children who are sexually harassed and/or abused are rising alarmingly and all of our kids must know definitively that no one has the right to touch them without permission and that if it happens, they must speak up until someone listens. Sisters Della and Suki have had a mom on meth, don’t know who their dad is, and the man who took custody of them after mom went to jail abused Suki for years ...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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Mock Newbery 2021: October Read - Fighting Words 32 143 2 hours, 29 min ago  
Mock Newbery 2021: How do you determine age-appropriateness? 3 85 Oct 07, 2020 08:24AM  

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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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