Abi's Reviews > Why I Fight

Why I Fight by J. Adams Oaks
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's review
Mar 13, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: fighting, youngadultreads, violent, readaloud
Read in March, 2012

To be honest, I read this book for the specific purpose of being able to discuss it with a struggling reader who I thought it would be perfect for. Turns out, I loved it, myself.

It's sad. It's vivid. It is, in my opinion, beautiful.

The book centers around Wyatt, a boy who has a grown man's height. He leaves his extremely dysfunctional family life in his uncle's care, and stays quiet and obedient - like a well-behaved dog - so his uncle will keep bringing him along on his cross-country sales and "sales" trips. His life is a patchwork of open road, his uncle's many lady friends, and little else (no school for this preteen and then teen boy).

J. Adams Oaks writes in Wyatt's voice. The novel's conceit is that you are on a bus next to this large man-boy, and he is telling you his story: why he fights; where he comes from; who he is. Through his narrative, you get the sense that the usually taciturn Wyatt is discovering himself and his story for the first time.

Oaks grabs your attention immediately with an action-packed scene, and then slows down into the story that will build to take us back where we started and far beyond.

This is a great book for someone who likes to read relatively straightforward first person narratives, who likes to read about fighting, or who likes to read about people dealing with and overcoming extreme obstacles. It is also just very, very well written. Oaks in no way limits himself by taking on Wyatt's voice: he writes beautifully--poetically at times--but always in character. Always with an "a" where an "an" would be proper.

I think this is an excellently crafted novel and more folks should read it, especially teen boys and those who teach them!

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