Punch Like a Girl

228p. ebook available. Orca Bks. Apr. 2015. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781459808287.
Gr 9 Up—Tori Wyatt shocked her family and friends when she shaved her head in the middle of the night. She tells everyone that she wanted to donate her hair to deflect from the real reason—her need to feel strong and tough after being sexually assaulted by her ex-boyfriend at a party. She gets in an altercation at the mall that further surprises everyone and to avoid arrest, agrees to do community service at a shelter for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. Bonding with one young girl at the shelter, Tori finds her strength in defending others and is then able to talk about what happened to her and start on the path to recovery. The first-person present-tense narration gives a sense of immediacy and pulls readers along with the protagonist as she seeks ways to stop feeling helpless in the aftermath of the assault. While her parents and her best friend recognize the changes in her behavior and attitude, Tori isn't yet able to talk about the cause and readers feel her very realistic emotional withdrawals and outbursts.
VERDICT While comparisons to Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak (Farrar, 1999) are inevitable, Tori's journey is her own and will provide another option for encouraging necessary discussions on sexual assault.

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