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The Knockout Queen

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  10,435 ratings  ·  1,546 reviews
A dazzling and darkly comic novel of love, violence, and friendship in the California suburbs

Bunny Lampert is the princess of North Shore⁠--beautiful, tall, blond, with a rich real-estate-developer father and a swimming pool in her backyard. Michael⁠⁠--with a ponytail down his back and a septum piercing⁠--lives with his aunt in the cramped stucco cottage next door. When Bu
Hardcover, 277 pages
Published April 28th 2020 by Knopf Publishing Group
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Nick The main character is LGBT+ and their best friend is the titular character

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Average rating 3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  10,435 ratings  ·  1,546 reviews

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Elyse  Walters
Jun 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
No spoilers...


Don’t shock easy?
Thought you’ve read everything about identity, friendships, sex, lust, love, family, even murder?

....Thought you’ve read about every type of coming-of-age teenage story made for man or woman?
Maybe not!!!!

Meet some of the most interesting characters you may meet all year:

This book is not for people who are too judgmental; are uncomfortable with full expression- or straight talk.

You know that little voice in your head that chatter
Mar 07, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

“I felt then that no one would ever know who I was. No one, I thought, was even capable of seeing another person clearly, let alone loving them.”

I’m going to be honest and say that I was not at all expecting to enjoy this as much as I did. Why on earth would I want to revisit high school years and spend time inside the heads of these teenagers? It was painful enough back then; why repeat the experience?! Well, all my doubts were laid to rest. If you place yourself in the care of a highl
Kim ~ It’s All About the Thrill
I really hate to do this but this is going to have to be a DNF for me. I rarely do this but I just can't get into this book. After 4 days I am barely half way done. I can't connect to a single character. Life is too short and there are just too many good ones out there. My first DNF from BOTM. ...more
Book of the Month
Why I love it
by Siobhan Jones

This is my favorite book of the year so far. One of the dangers of reading so many new books each month is that I overuse these words a lot. But I can’t help it. In January I was telling everyone about The Sun Down Motel. Then April came along and I couldn’t stop talking about Valentine. So consider this my endorsement, with an asterisk: The Knockout Queen is my favorite book of 2020 (so far!).

Bunny Lampert is tall, blonde, and has a heart of gold. She’s a talented v
5 enthusiastic stars! Grabbed my disinfected pogo stick and took a ride!

Pogo stick time! Don’t worry, I found some coveted Lysol and disinfected it before I went a-hoppin’. No COVID death by pogo stick here!

This book, oh this book! It’s my favorite so far this year! Sometimes a book is just on my wavelength; the sentence structure alone somehow agrees with my head. Then there’s the depth of the characters; psychological insight out the ying yang. The plot is unusual, intense, and dark. And much
Damn! This was so incredibly good, I'm gobsmacked. I read it in less than a day, I couldn't stop myself. I can't remember the last time I did that.
Amazing characters and characterisations, the voice, the plot - everything was extraordinary but in an ordinary, non-showy kind of way. I just don't have the words to express myself (not having slept much doesn't help either).
Despite being an easy read, this was intelligent, every phrase was perfection. Whoever edited this did an amazing job.

I'll p
ELLIAS (elliasreads)
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: i-own, 2020-books
Everyone and everything in this book was so unlikeable. I feel like this was a really strange mix up of a coming of age novel about toxic friendships, guilt, and trauma. It sounds really good though. I thought so too. More underwhelmed than anything.

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Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic -- deeply moving, astute, and often funny as hell. Rufi Thorpe writes about friendship with grace and insight, and the emotional mechanics (and emotional landmines) of growing up with a wisdom that floors me.

Objectively speaking, Bunny Lampert and her next-door neighbor, Michael, are unlikely to be friends. She's a star volleyball player at their high school, pretty, wealthy, and admired. He's gay, ordinary, friendless, and not well off. Nevertheless, shortly after meeting, Bunny and Michael develop a soul-bond, striking up the kind of friendship many can only dream of.

These two live very different lives yet suffer equal pain; however, Bunny is “The Knockout Queen” of the title
Anne (On semi-hiatus)
Feb 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Anne (On semi-hiatus) by: Lisa
Shelves: 2021
The Knockout Queen is a novel that I don’t want to review because I don't want to give away any part of the story. I will say that it’s a “coming of age” story unlike any you have ever read. It deals with a lot of “issues” with intelligence but a light hand. It is very well-written, the characters and the universe they inhabit are exceptionally well-drawn, and the story grabbed my attention from the beginning and didn’t let go until the end. Rupi Thorpe knows people with all their frailties and ...more
May 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-favorites
[4.5] Finally, a stand-out novel that gripped me and kept me off kilter from beginning to end! The Knockout Queen is a dark and fierce novel about a friendship forged between two lonely teens. I love how real Bunny and Michael are - neither fits in - they are not pasted on "book-quirky" but elusive and unpredictable and changing constantly. ...more
Betsy Robinson
Sep 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
5/14/21 Update
This magnificent literary novel was a finalist for the 2021 PEN Faulkner Award. It was a real treat watching Rufi Thorpe read and talk about why this book is important for this time. She appears at minute 24:25 of this award ceremony video (but the whole hour is good). Enjoy:

9/30/20 review
This book is wonderful. Magnificent. Any superlative adjective you can think of.

It is the story of a friendship between a young gay guy (told from the vant
Jul 05, 2020 marked it as hours-i-will-never-get-back  ·  review of another edition
I'm having Holden Caulfield flashbacks and since I'm not in high school English anymore, my adult self is letting this one go. ...more
Jul 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020, botm, lgbtq
I don't even know what to say about this one or how I really feel about it, but I do know that I did not want to put it down and I wanted to keep reading about these characters. It was different, kind of weird, and very character driven...and I think I kind of love that. I don't think I will be forgetting Bunny or Michael anytime soon! ...more
Sarah at Sarah's Bookshelves
Thanks to Knopf for an advanced copy of this book.

Finally…my second 5 star book of the year! I loved Thorpe’s last novel (Dear Fang, With Love) and this “dark coming of age story” (per the publisher…and I agree) was even better. It’s a character-driven story (though there is a life-changing incident that drives the plot) of two teenagers who feel like outsiders in their own ways trying to come to terms with who they are amid their own family drama. It’s about young people losing their innocence…
May 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: contemporary
The one thing I can say about Rupi Thorpe’s The Knockout Queen is that it made an attempt at saying some things, but I can’t say that attempt was successful. To be completely honest I’m kind of unsure where all the praise for this book is coming from. While it poses interesting questions it never challenges these themes in ways that aren’t superficial. In the end, neither Bunny nor Michael learned anything that prompted them to change as a person. Michael made attempts to tell the reader how the ...more
Julie Ehlers
I have loved all of Rufi's novels, but I think this is her best so far—her most emotionally accessible, her funniest, her most engrossing. The ending was so upsetting to me that I feel ill thinking about it, but that's only because I cared so much about the characters. Five stars. ...more
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary, arc, 2020
I have a lot of thoughts about this book and yet very little feelings about it.

As far as books go it’s not a bad book. I think it comes down to this not being a book for me. It hit the nail on the head for many things in books that I really don’t like. However, those may be things that other people absolutely love in books.

Since I don’t read very many books like this (the last one that made me feel this way was Catcher in the Rye and I read that waaay back in high school - so like 8 years ago),
4.5 Stars

’Her name was Bunny Lampert, and she was the princess of North Shore, and somehow, almost against my will, I became her friend.

I suppose, being next-door neighbors, it was inevitable that Michael and Bunny would eventually meet, although Michael seemed to feel out of place in his aunt’s house where he’d gone to live after his mother went away. A tiny tired old house stuck in between two mansions, in a neighborhood gradually being “upgraded.” Bunny, on the other hand, lived in a mansion.
Oct 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A delicate, shrewd, high school kid who is naturally introduced to some unacceptable conditions lastly makes a companion. Because she lives in a manor and is overflowing with abundance with a loving dad, everything he doesn't have, Michael feels like he can at last push ahead with existence with Bunny close by. This is Rufi Thorpe's epic THE KNOCKOUT QUEEN.

Michael has had it terribly. Experiencing childhood in a house with misuse, disregard, and now his mom is headed toward the jail. In any eve
Christine Flay
May 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
What in the world.... what did I just read?
I think the synopsis for this book is all that you should know, and in fact I didn't even read it when I chose this as my May Book of the Month selection. I saw a few people that rated this book so highly, and trusted their judgement on picking up a book that I normally wouldn't. Once I saw a quote from Rupaul in the introduction of the book, I knew I picked the right choice. This book felt like an over dramatized version of my childhood and nearly broke me at times.

Rufi Thorpe's The Knockou
Chelsey (a_novel_idea11)
Bunny is a privileged teenager growing up in a McMansion with her father, Ray. She is exceptionally tall, but uses it to her advantage on the volleyball court, hoping to one day make the Olympics. ⠀ ⠀

Michael is coming to terms with his sexuality and troubled childhood. When his mother is sent to prison for three years after stabbing his abusive, alcoholic father with a butter knife, Michael moves into his Aunt's house. Her house is tiny and run down, but next door to Bunny's.⠀ ⠀

The two form an
Jordan (Jordy’s Book Club)
Jun 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
QUICK TAKE: I f*cking loved THE KNOCKOUT QUEEN. The exploration of sex and violence and shame centered around 2 teenage outcasts (Michael, a gay goth and Bunny, an outgoing 6’3 female athlete) is dark and provocative and laugh-out-loud funny and packs a gut-punch of an ending that stuck with me days after I’d finished.
GAH I JUST LOVED IT. Thank you Rufi Thorpe for creating these characters.
May 04, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tinichix (nicole)
"The Knockout Queen" is about the bond and friendship between two unlikely friends that live next door to each other Michael and Bunny. They are as different as can be and they are both antagonized for what makes them different and unique at school. This book is about how far you would actually go for a friend and the consequences to those actions and what it means to actually be an unconditional, loyal friend.

I really enjoyed parts of this and then really didn't love other parts. I think the w
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This one has become a favorite among Tournament of Books fans working through the long list before the shortlist comes out Friday. When the narrator Michael's mother goes to jail for stabbing his father during a domestic violence situation, he gets shuffled between family and friends and is largely left unsupervised. He uses that time to hook up with much older men in Grindr. Then he gets to know Bunny, the next door neighbor girl who is taller and stronger than everyone. Her father in local gov ...more
May 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: botm, lbgqt
There were times I hated this book so much that I wanted to fling it across the room, and then put it in my donate pile and be done with it. Yet I kept reading and in the end, I am glad I did. I won't be able to forget it for a while. It stirred up a lot of emotions in me. Be prepared and know that this is NOT light reading nor is it YA. There are very graphic violent parts in the book that I skipped completely over. I really struggled with that.

Kudos to Rufi Thorpe for creating these unforgetta
I'm not sure what I was expecting- a story of unlikely best friends, but this is one that I need to sit with and think about.

Bunny and Michael are neighbors and total opposites but somehow they become close friends, family even. Bunny is a 6'3" volleyball player, gorgeous and athletic, living in a mansion with a pool. Next door, Michael is living with his Aunt and douchebag cousin Jason. Michael comes from turbulent times with his parents and is just trying to get by. He wears a septum ring, eye
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Book of The Month: The Knockout Queen *SPOILER DISCUSSION* 4 65 Jun 07, 2020 02:33PM  
Mt. Lebanon Publi...: The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe 1 6 Jun 03, 2020 09:47AM  

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Rufi Thorpe received her MFA from the University of Virginia in 2009. Her first novel, The Girls from Corona del Mar, was long listed for the 2014 International Dylan Thomas Prize and for the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize. Her second novel, Dear Fang, With Love, is forthcoming from Knopf in May 2016. She lives in California with her husband and two sons.

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