The Knockout Queen
Rufi Thorpe returns to the subject that made her debut novel The Girls from Corona del Mar so endlessly compelling: the complexity and urgency of best friendship. In The Knockout Queen two unlikely friends form an alliance—a slight, hyper-intelligent gay teen named Michael Hesketh and his next-door neighbor, the remarkably tall Bunny Lampert. Each is antagonized for their differences—Michael for being attracted to the “wrong” people (much older men from the Internet) and Bunny for having the “wrong” body, one with a strength she can’t always control. As their bond intensifies, an accidental act of violence leaves both characters, and their friendship, forever transformed.The Knockout Queen is about the lengths we go to protect our friends, and what happens when the binding threads of love are stretched to their snapping point. This is Rufi Thorpe at her finest: intoxicatingly charismatic storytelling, a compelling, seductive talent with every sentence.

The Knockout Queen Details

TitleThe Knockout Queen
Author
ReleaseApr 28th, 2020
PublisherKnopf
Rating
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Young Adult, LGBT, Literary Fiction, GLBT, Queer, Adult, Romance, Adult Fiction, Coming Of Age

The Knockout Queen Review

  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    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.
  • Sarah at Sarah's Bookshelves
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Knopf for an advanced copy of this book.Finallymy second 5 star book of the year! I loved Thorpes last novel (Dear Fang, With Love) and this dark coming of age story (per the publisherand I agree) was even better. Its 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. Its about young people losing their innocenceboth 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…both literally and figuratively. It’s full of teenage awkwardness…and reminded me a bit of My Sunshine Away in this respect. Thorpe’s voice and writing are the stars of this show…as are the characters of Bunny and Michael, who are flawed, yet endearing. I think readers will be drawn to them. Plus, Bunny is an elite volleyball player and you know how much I love a female athlete protagonist!Visit https://www.sarahsbookshelves.com for more reviews.
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  • Book of the Month
    January 1, 1970
    Why I love itby Siobhan JonesThis 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 cant help it. In January I was telling everyone about The Sun Down Motel. Then April came along and I couldnt 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. Shes a talented Why I love itby Siobhan JonesThis 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 volleyball player and her father is rich. All this should add up to popularity, right? Wrong. For some reason, she and her best friend Michael—the boy next door who narrates the story—exist on the fringes of high school society. But no matter. As Bunny grapples with her father’s worsening (and occasionally terrifying) alcoholism and Michael begins dating older men he meets online, they take solace in each other. That is, until a sudden act of violence rips their lives, and their friendship, apart.This is one of those books that kind of defies explanation, which is why I want to take a stab at describing what it is not. It is not a “light” read. It will not make you pine for your teenage years. The world that Bunny and Michael live in is not a particularly fair or beautiful one. What The Knockout Queen is: a moving story about two remarkably resilient humans, from a writer at the height of her powers. I hope you love it too.Read more at: https://bookofthemonth.com/the-knocko...
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  • Rachael
    January 1, 1970
    I have a lot of thoughts about this book and yet very little feelings about it.As far as books go its 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 dont like. However, those may be things that other people absolutely love in books.Since I dont 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), Im 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), I’m going to compare it to TV. This book is essentially Shameless narrated by Ian if Ian were a character in a Wes Anderson movie. So if you’re a fan of characters that are selfish and kind of shitty, that varying degrees of shitty things happen to (or a fan of Rushmore) then you’d most likely like this book.Personally, this book was just meh. It was just something I got through. However, I couldn’t stand Michael. Or maybe it was the type of narrator he was. Either way, it was pretty annoying to read sentences that used SAT words yet were supposed to be in the thoughts of a 16/17 year old. It was weird and unnatural, because teenagers don’t actually use those words outside of their English papers they’re trying to reach the word count on. But the Michael DID use SAT words in his vocabulary, and instead of coming across as intelligent (which I think is what the author wanted), he came across as pretentious. Towards the end of the middle, while the climax of the story was starting to come down, I was actually more engaged in the plot. But it felt like the sort of engagement that you get when you’re rubbernecking at an accident that happened on the freeway. In fact, the whole story was like that but instead of rubbernecking for a couple seconds you were rubbernecking for an hour. Moral of the story: this book wasn’t for me. It’s for the type of people who like Catcher in the Rye and Wes Anderson movies. They also might be into Nick Carraway as a narrator. Who are interested in teenagers who think they’re smarter than everyone else and go around and around in their heads about philosophical thoughts that actually mean nothing. But there’s people who are into that, and those are the people who will be attracted to this book and who will enjoy it.
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  • Tess
    January 1, 1970
    THIS. BOOK. If it weren't currently April 2020 I would put this book directly into your hands and say "read it." I loved Rufi Thorpe's previous novels, but this one seems special and monumental. Her voice is exhilarating and hilarious; her characters special and lifelike. Bunny Lampert, the queen in question, is a character like no other in literature. She is burned in my brain, along with Michael (our narrator), and the storylines of this book, and these characters, are shocking and THIS. BOOK. If it weren't currently April 2020 I would put this book directly into your hands and say "read it." I loved Rufi Thorpe's previous novels, but this one seems special and monumental. Her voice is exhilarating and hilarious; her characters special and lifelike. Bunny Lampert, the queen in question, is a character like no other in literature. She is burned in my brain, along with Michael (our narrator), and the storylines of this book, and these characters, are shocking and heartbreaking but also laughable and relatable. Michael is a gay kid coming to terms with his broken family, his sexuality, and his place in the world when he befriends Bunny, his rich next door neighbor. He becomes enamored with her, and their lives intersect in ways you could never imagine. The book is a coming of age story, but it is not run of the mill. It's also about violence, and gender performance, and humanity. It is both moving and horrifying, and I just wanted to reach into the page to alternately give Michael and Bunny a hug, and run far away from them. You'll see yourself in this book, you'll see people you know, you'll see people you hope to never encounter. Thorpe has written a teenage coming of age book that is unlike anything I have read before (and I have read many) and that is truly one of the best compliments I can give. Read this, get lost in her fabulous voice, and get to know these characters who will be etched in your brain long after it's finished.
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  • Dan
    January 1, 1970
    Rufi Thorpe continues her streak of strong coming-of-age novels featuring young women characters in distressing circumstances. There are never easy answers to the moral quandaries, but lots of thinking, feeling, talking, and discussions of guilt, innocence, and the human experience. Hoping this expands the ranks of Rufi Thorpe fans!Just in case you have the same intense need for geographic resolution as I do: North Shore is El Segundo, and the bike path along the ocean going south from there is Rufi Thorpe continues her streak of strong coming-of-age novels featuring young women characters in distressing circumstances. There are never easy answers to the moral quandaries, but lots of thinking, feeling, talking, and discussions of guilt, innocence, and the human experience. Hoping this expands the ranks of Rufi Thorpe fans!Just in case you have the same intense need for geographic resolution as I do: North Shore is El Segundo, and the bike path along the ocean going south from there is among my favorites.p.s. So I know the person or close family of three of the six authors blurbed on the back, that's a sign that I've made it, right?
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  • James Beggarly
    January 1, 1970
    An amazing novel about the high school friendship of two people. Its told with great warmth and humor and it takes you back to your own time in school, even though the two have extremely unconventional home lives. But then violence, enacting by one person and sustained by another, turns the book into the highest of drama. The thrilling part is that the author is able to pull this off to the point that I wished the book was twice as long, so I could keep following these two. A great read. An amazing novel about the high school friendship of two people. It’s told with great warmth and humor and it takes you back to your own time in school, even though the two have extremely unconventional home lives. But then violence, enacting by one person and sustained by another, turns the book into the highest of drama. The thrilling part is that the author is able to pull this off to the point that I wished the book was twice as long, so I could keep following these two. A great read.
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  • Allison
    January 1, 1970
    I received an advanced copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway.I liked this quite a bit and it was really immersive and addictive. There were some moments in Michael's narration where I was kind of pulled out by some of the language he used; it seemed too elevated and, despite this maybe making sense on account of him being older and looking back on his years with Bunny, it just took me out of the story. I really loved Bunny and where she ended up made me very sad. This book made me laugh I received an advanced copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway.I liked this quite a bit and it was really immersive and addictive. There were some moments in Michael's narration where I was kind of pulled out by some of the language he used; it seemed too elevated and, despite this maybe making sense on account of him being older and looking back on his years with Bunny, it just took me out of the story. I really loved Bunny and where she ended up made me very sad. This book made me laugh and smile and feel a lot of different things. I did kind of struggle with finding my bearings re: what years this was taking place in but that wasn't too big of a deal.
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  • Tretch_farmzz
    January 1, 1970
    To say I admire "The Knockout Queen" feels inadequate. Though I do admire a great deal of it, its more honest just to say I love "The Knockout Queen." I loved reading it, I felt involved in it, and finally, I was so moved by how it ended. This is really an epic tale of friendship, one where the magnitude sneaks up on you quietlybut when it strikes, it strikes home, and it rings so brilliantly true. To say I admire "The Knockout Queen" feels inadequate. Though I do admire a great deal of it, it’s more honest just to say I love "The Knockout Queen." I loved reading it, I felt involved in it, and finally, I was so moved by how it ended. This is really an epic tale of friendship, one where the magnitude sneaks up on you quietly—but when it strikes, it strikes home, and it rings so brilliantly true.
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  • Jillian Doherty
    January 1, 1970
    This is such an incredible, immersive story - you want to keep reading just to see what happens next. With well developed and colored characters, an original plot and relatable themes that enrapture you as you read - this is a calming, reviving and empowering journey. I'm only mad that it's not an imprint I sell ;)!Galley borrowed from the publisher
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  • Ilyssa Wesche
    January 1, 1970
    I had zero expectations going into this, and am glad I read it. Coming-of-age stories are not usually my thing but Michael was a good narrator and was eminently believable throughout the book. Even when his heart was hurting, it wasn't childish or angsty. The end was amazing, even though a little sad since his friend Bunny ended up maybe not in the greatest place.Also on a side note it is hilarious that he refers to Bunny's father as "Ray Lampert" throughout the entire book. Does so much to let I had zero expectations going into this, and am glad I read it. Coming-of-age stories are not usually my thing but Michael was a good narrator and was eminently believable throughout the book. Even when his heart was hurting, it wasn't childish or angsty. The end was amazing, even though a little sad since his friend Bunny ended up maybe not in the greatest place.Also on a side note it is hilarious that he refers to Bunny's father as "Ray Lampert" throughout the entire book. Does so much to let you know what kind of man Ray really is.
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  • Marie
    January 1, 1970
    I went into this one blind. I saw it on the Libby app, saw that it was available, and checked it out. Im glad I did.You can read the blurb to get a sense of what this book is about (best friends with tragic pasts trying to figure out life when an accident changes their paths forever, blah blah), but for me what this book is really about is violence in our society, and the way violence hides in socially acceptable ways, the way its judged differently depending on how its dished out and whos I went into this one blind. I saw it on the Libby app, saw that it was available, and checked it out. I’m glad I did.You can read the blurb to get a sense of what this book is about (best friends with tragic pasts trying to figure out life when an accident changes their paths forever, blah blah), but for me what this book is really about is violence in our society, and the way violence hides in socially acceptable ways, the way it’s judged differently depending on how it’s dished out and who’s dishing it out, the way parents can affect the way their children perpetrate or receive violence. There’s a lot in here to unpack, not just about friendship and family and violence, but about gayness and women and misogyny and domestic abuse and justice. And somehow, the author manages to wrap it onto her storytelling in a way that doesn’t feel preachy or obvious, in a way that makes it slowly bubble to the surface of your thinking so that you have to stop for a minute and think about it and get angry, and then you can read again.I found the last 10% or so of this story to be profoundly sad and troubling but also exactly the way it should’ve gone. Read this with your eyes wide open, take in every single detail, because it’s all important. Nothing here is wasted.
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  • Kristen Beverly
    January 1, 1970
    Knockout Queen is another book that was I was drawn into by the cover. Its hard to describe this story without giving too much of it away, but its really about the friendship Bunny and Michael. Bunny is a young girl whose life looks perfect on the outside, but behind the scenes she is really struggling. Michael is a guy who is outwardly struggling. He doesnt really fit in anywhere and pretends to be straight, even though he really isnt. An act of violence occurs and both of their lives are Knockout Queen is another book that was I was drawn into by the cover. It’s hard to describe this story without giving too much of it away, but it’s really about the friendship Bunny and Michael. Bunny is a young girl whose life looks perfect on the outside, but behind the scenes she is really struggling. Michael is a guy who is outwardly struggling. He doesn’t really fit in anywhere and pretends to be straight, even though he really isn’t. An act of violence occurs and both of their lives are forever intertwined and changed. I was really swept away by this novel. The prose moves and it has a lot of very dark comedy. Even though the story is heavy, I didn’t feel brought down or overwhelmed by it. The style of writing brings a lightness that the story needs and I really fell in love over time with both Bunny and Michael.
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  • Alicia
    January 1, 1970
    https://wordnerdy.blogspot.com/2020/0...I love both of Thorpe's earlier novels, and this one was just as good! It centers on a gay teen boy, living with his aunt after his mother is arrested, who becomes best friends with the girl next doora super tall volleyball player. To me, this felt suffused with melancholy, as the two struggle to fit in and deal with various crises. I also wanted a little bit more from the endthe protagonist is slightly older, but not far enough removed from things to have https://wordnerdy.blogspot.com/2020/0...I love both of Thorpe's earlier novels, and this one was just as good! It centers on a gay teen boy, living with his aunt after his mother is arrested, who becomes best friends with the girl next door—a super tall volleyball player. To me, this felt suffused with melancholy, as the two struggle to fit in and deal with various crises. I also wanted a little bit more from the end—the protagonist is slightly older, but not far enough removed from things to have enough perspective. I mean, that is probably the point—the muddled feelings feel very real. Anyway, this was still excellent, and I’ll be thinking about it for a while. A/A-.__A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in April.
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  • Di Richardson
    January 1, 1970
    This is a heartbreaking coming of age story about two high hood kids that dont fit in...Michael, a gay young man from a super-dysfunctional family, and Bunny, an athletic girl that is taller than everyone else. This book reminds you of how cruel kids can to to anyone that is even slightly different. The two form a unique friendship that is strengthened by various tragedies. It was really kind of a depressing read, as these two kids struggle to find a little love in this world. This is a heartbreaking coming of age story about two high hood kids that don’t fit in...Michael, a gay young man from a super-dysfunctional family, and Bunny, an athletic girl that is taller than everyone else. This book reminds you of how cruel kids can to to anyone that is even slightly different. The two form a unique friendship that is strengthened by various tragedies. It was really kind of a depressing read, as these two kids struggle to find a little love in this world.
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  • Laura Peden
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this one 🖤
  • Carla (happiestwhenreading)
    January 1, 1970
    My book twin, Sarah from Sarah's Book Shelves, recently raved about this one, so I added it to my TBR immediately!This is one of my favorite kinds of books: a coming-of-age story with depth and nuance. The writing was spectacular and I found that I had a hard time putting it down once I started reading. There was evident angst throughout the book that kept me compelled to keep turning the pages so I could find out what happened. I really appreciated Bunny and Michael - and their relationship My book twin, Sarah from Sarah's Book Shelves, recently raved about this one, so I added it to my TBR immediately!This is one of my favorite kinds of books: a coming-of-age story with depth and nuance. The writing was spectacular and I found that I had a hard time putting it down once I started reading. There was evident angst throughout the book that kept me compelled to keep turning the pages so I could find out what happened. I really appreciated Bunny and Michael - and their relationship with each other. There were many secondary characters that really stood out as well - Aunt DeeDee, Terrance, and Ray (though totally unlikeable) - but the heart of the story examines the ups and downs of Bunny and Michael's friendship.In the end, the writing and characters of this book kept me interested and reading. I was disappointed in the abrupt ending and a few other issues that were never resolved. The story didn't seem to hav a clear ending (and towards the end of the book, Normal People started popping into my head as a book that also left me unsatisfied).Also, though it may be a minor grievance, but I did not appreciate the way Thorpe portrayed Bunny's "size". She was 6'3" and 168 pounds...and the way you'd read it in the book, she was a monster and unlikable because of her size. I kind of get the importance of her size (no spoilers), but this is not a big girl and certainly shouldn't have been portrayed as gross or unbecoming - which was totally the vibes I got from the descriptions. Maybe I'm sensitive because I'm 6' tall myself, and I know I'm taller than most other women, but this aspect of the book was offensive to me!I'm definitely between 3.5 and 4 stars on this one, so I settled on 4 stars.
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  • Beth M.
    January 1, 1970
    The Knockout Queen is the first novel Ive read by Rufi Thorpe and I just adored it! It tells the story of two utterly unique individuals who you wouldnt expect to be friends at first glance. Bunny is a stunning, abnormally tall, blonde who lives in the upper class neighborhood of North Shore. Michael, on the other hand, moved into a tiny house next door with his aunt at age 11 when his mother went to prison for stabbing his father. He wears his hair long, applies eyeliner, and dons a septum ring The Knockout Queen is the first novel I’ve read by Rufi Thorpe and I just adored it! It tells the story of two utterly unique individuals who you wouldn’t expect to be friends at first glance. Bunny is a stunning, abnormally tall, blonde who lives in the upper class neighborhood of North Shore. Michael, on the other hand, moved into a tiny house next door with his aunt at age 11 when his mother went to prison for stabbing his father. He wears his hair long, applies eyeliner, and dons a septum ring in hopes of disguising the fact that he is gay by instead passing for just plain “different.” After becoming inseparable friends, their lives take a drastic turn during their senior year of high school when the unexpected happens.Thorpe beautifully explores the common themes of friendship and identity here with fresh eyes. She examines the humanity of each character and challenges the disparate concepts of “good” and “bad,” “right” and “wrong.” Infused with a dark and genuine humor, you won’t soon forget Thorpe’s writing or this story..Many thanks to Knopf for gifting me this galley! All thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
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  • Katie Katieneedsabiggerbookshelf
    January 1, 1970
    I really wanted to love this one. Sadly, I think I have come to the conclusion that character driven novels are just not my favorite.
  • Angela Lashbrook
    January 1, 1970
    WOW wtf??????? Longer review coming later but I just put this book down and it is immediately going into the favorites pile. Incredibly powerful and FUNNY. Just so good.Full review is here but I'll excerpt it below:I knew I was going to love Rufi Thorpes The Knockout Queen the minute the protagonists neighbor and new friend Bunny Lampert, in the middle of offering a tour of her suburban McMansion, opens up a package of Pop Tarts, spreads butter between the two pastries, and eats them as a WOW wtf??????? Longer review coming later but I just put this book down and it is immediately going into the favorites pile. Incredibly powerful and FUNNY. Just so good.Full review is here but I'll excerpt it below:I knew I was going to love Rufi Thorpe’s The Knockout Queen the minute the protagonist’s neighbor and new friend Bunny Lampert, in the middle of offering a tour of her suburban McMansion, opens up a package of Pop Tarts, spreads butter between the two pastries, and eats them as a sandwich. The scene not only speaks to the odd, outrageous eating habits of teenagers; it also clearly illustrates the unpretentious, totally un-self aware nature of Bunny’s existence, and the observant, somewhat judgmental nature of the protagonist Michael.This small, seemingly banal scene perfectly sets up the conflicts that will define Bunny and Michael’s young lives. The temptation and vulnerability of the body. How the mind wrestles between rational needs and impulsive desires that, at their worst, become violent. How society punishes women who transgress the norms of civility, who meet their downfall by dipping into the well of rage that is only excused in men — in particular, wealthy, straight, white men.While The Knockout Queen is heavy in its themes and much of its events, it’s also warm and very, very funny. Michael is judgmental, but only so far that it points out the horror and absurdity of other people’s behavior, rarely letting these observations become how he’ll define these people forever. Bunny is much more complicated than she seems at first, guileless but self-loathing, focused yet completely out of control. Even the supporting characters are painted with depth and sensitivity: Bunny’s father, Ray Lampert — whom Michael refers to as Ray Lampert throughout the entire book — is selfish and manipulative, but with strong moments of love and almost a weird innocence; Michael’s aunt and guardian, Deedee, is trying to raise a child who isn’t hers and whom she can’t really afford, financially or emotionally, to support.And despite all the violence and tragedy that form the skeleton of this book, it made me laugh constantly. It almost makes me never want to write, being nearly my Platonic ideal of what a book should look like: conversational, brisk, introspective, and most importantly, full of heart.
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  • Sabrina
    January 1, 1970
    I hated this book and I don't understand why it's getting so many good reviews. So here are my two cents:1) Michael, the narrator, was not likeable at all. He had a really bad life but he was such a hypocrite, judgemental person. He was constanly critising everybody for the exact same things he did (for example, he points out Naomi for ditching them after the incident happens but then he cuts off from Bunny's life as soon as he can) and he was also a horrible friend to Bunny. He never stands up I hated this book and I don't understand why it's getting so many good reviews. So here are my two cents:1) Michael, the narrator, was not likeable at all. He had a really bad life but he was such a hypocrite, judgemental person. He was constanly critising everybody for the exact same things he did (for example, he points out Naomi for ditching them after the incident happens but then he cuts off from Bunny's life as soon as he can) and he was also a horrible friend to Bunny. He never stands up for her but only keeps his "friendship" (even though he feels repulsed by her and her father) so as to use them because he had no where to go.2) So many chapters dedicated to the "love story" between Michael and Anthony. Seriously, that was abuse yet the narrator keeps defending that relationship throught the years. It also feels really troubled a 13 year-old is already having sex with strangers. The author never presents this as something wrong, yet is quick to point out Bunny was date raped by her coach.3) The stereotype of a tall girl: it's 2020 for god's sake! Are we still associating a tall, strong, athletic and tomboy girl with someone violent? The author not only does that, but she describes her as a beautiful monster and then makes her a murderer and of course, a lesbian.4) The misogyny: I really looked up if the author was a woman. Twice. Michael's mother and Donna's stories are introduced to show us how victims of domestic abuse are blamed for what happens to them. Also how Jason and others get a small penalty for assaulting a gay man but Bunny's life is ruined. What kind a message was she trying to send by making the female protagonist go through all of that? Just because we're women we're screwed? However, the men get away with everything in this story.5) The ending: the story accelerates a few years just to show us that Michael and Naomi have moved on and succeeded with her lives but Bunny is now a puppet of her father who's pushing her to keep boxing despite being clearly ill - the analogy between the concussions she provoked to Ann Marie and the one Bunny gets by boxing are a bit obvious. And of course it ends just like that because it seems the author could not come up with more ways to screw Bunny up.From chapter 1 I knew I wasn't going to enjoy this book but I made it 'til the end with the hope Bunny could have a sort of happy ending. A complete waste of time.
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  • Kimberley
    January 1, 1970
    Bunny and Michael form an unlikely friendship, based on the mutual desire to be loved and accepted, but the two soon find that their love could lead both to deadly consequences.I was surprised how enthralled I was with this story. Its not reinventing the wheel in any wayhonestly, if youve read one teen angst story, youve read a millionbut the depth of introspection displayed by the main character, Michael, is what makes the story so interesting and captivating to read.Its clear hes already been Bunny and Michael form an unlikely friendship, based on the mutual desire to be loved and accepted, but the two soon find that their love could lead both to deadly consequences.I was surprised how enthralled I was with this story. It’s not reinventing the wheel in any way—honestly, if you’ve read one teen angst story, you’ve read a million—but the depth of introspection displayed by the main character, Michael, is what makes the story so interesting and captivating to read.It’s clear he’s already been through a lot, and the world has no trouble labeling him as “other”, but he’s still determined to figure it out. Even though he stumbles and falls quite a bit along the way.At times his journey is cringeworthy but it never ceases to be real and, beneath it all, you can see his humanity and you’re rooting hard for him to figure it out.By contrast, Bunny falls into the category of many teenage girls: she’s looking for validation that she’s pretty and lovable. However, her physical stature—she’s six-foot three—has made her peers view her as a weird anomaly.If not for her prowess on the volleyball team, she’d likely be considered an outcast altogether. Add to that, a rich father with a drinking problem—who only “sees” Bunny in relation to her status as an athlete—and a dead mother with a tawdry backstory, and Bunny is definitely going through some things. When he and Bunny meet, Michael is at-first taken aback, but is soon enamored of the oddly forward Bunny. The two become best friends and soon begin to spend most of their time together.There’s an incident, which turns everything on a dime, but that incident was, at least in my view, less a major plot point, than it was the lens through which everything and everyone else became more clear. Nothing and no one in North Shore are who they appear to be, and that makes the desire, of both Bunny and Michael, to be accepted, by those in their small community, that much more tragic. As the end nears, Michael and Bunny are both forced to figure out who they are and where each will fit within the lives of the other.Towards the end, the story began to drag just a bit, and the ending itself was a bit abrupt for my taste, but overall this was a well-written coming-of-age type story about two teens struggling to become adults in a world where no one is willing to show them how. Thanks to Edelweiss+ for the advanced e-Galley of this work. Opinion is my own.
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  • Nancy
    January 1, 1970
    A Supportive Friendship Between Outsider TeensMichael lives with his aunt in a small, yellow, stucco house between two mansions. On one side the mansion appears empty, on the other lives Bunny Lampert and her real estate developer father who is an incipient alcoholic. He knows her because they attend the same high school, but until the day she finds him smoking in her yard, they dont know each other. Bunny is tall, over six feet, blond and rich. Michael is small with a pony tail. He tries to be A Supportive Friendship Between Outsider TeensMichael lives with his aunt in a small, yellow, stucco house between two mansions. On one side the mansion appears empty, on the other lives Bunny Lampert and her real estate developer father who is an incipient alcoholic. He knows her because they attend the same high school, but until the day she finds him smoking in her yard, they don’t know each other. Bunny is tall, over six feet, blond and rich. Michael is small with a pony tail. He tries to be straight, but he thinks he’s gay. In fact, he tells Bunny that the first time they meet.Both teens are outsiders, lonely and looking for friendship. They remain supportive of each other through a brutal attack and the subsequent fallout. They survive, but their stories are surprising. This is a character driven story that is at times not easy to read although it is true to the problems of the teenage protagonists. Teens often have trouble coming to terms with who they are. This is particularly true for Bunny and Michael who have more problems with their personal adjustment than most teens. The writing is beautiful and the portraits of these teens are unflinching. An added benefit in the story is that Bunny is a female athlete. Her desire for Olympic fame and the tragic end are in many ways true to life. Neither teen has it easy, but together they survive. I received this book from Knopf for this review.
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  • Nandika | Booktrovertgirl
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars for this coming-of-age novel!The Knockout Queen is about Bunny, the daughter of a rich man in North Shore where everyone knows her father, and Michael, who just moved to North Shore and is Bunny's neighbor. Both are kind of outcasts in their school for different reasons (Michael is not-out-of-closet gay and Bunny is 6 '3 and towers over her classmates) and become best friends. But soon after Michael's secret is revealed to everyone in the school, one act taken in pure friendship 3.5 stars for this coming-of-age novel!The Knockout Queen is about Bunny, the daughter of a rich man in North Shore where everyone knows her father, and Michael, who just moved to North Shore and is Bunny's neighbor. Both are kind of outcasts in their school for different reasons (Michael is not-out-of-closet gay and Bunny is 6 '3 and towers over her classmates) and become best friends. But soon after Michael's secret is revealed to everyone in the school, one act taken in pure friendship results in changing the course of both their lives.Bunny and Michael have a beautiful friendship in the book, and I wish I got to read more about their bond. Michael is a great narrator, and his fascination for Bunny makes you get curious about Bunny as well. Bunny is a heartwarming character who just wants to be loved and be a normal teenager, and you feel for her. This book will definitely make you reminisce your high school days.The reason why this didn't work for me as much as I wanted it to was the same as why Normal People didn't work for me. Angst filled teenagers who think the world of themselves isn't my cup of tea. The plot is engaging and the I felt connected to the characters and cared for their outcomes, but it still felt a little forced to me.Read this if you liked Normal People.
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  • Kristina
    January 1, 1970
    This was quite an enjoyable (despite subject matter) read! I blew through the book rather quickly and could not wait to see how it ended. Michael lives in a small enclave in California with his aunt and his cousin. His mom was in prison for stabbing her boyfriend, and when she gets out, Michael stays with his aunt. They live in a small house among McMansions. Michael is intrigued by the girl, Bunny, who lives next door in one of the mansions. While they are in the same grade, they don't interact This was quite an enjoyable (despite subject matter) read! I blew through the book rather quickly and could not wait to see how it ended. Michael lives in a small enclave in California with his aunt and his cousin. His mom was in prison for stabbing her boyfriend, and when she gets out, Michael stays with his aunt. They live in a small house among McMansions. Michael is intrigued by the girl, Bunny, who lives next door in one of the mansions. While they are in the same grade, they don't interact in school, but become fast friends outside of it. Michael is gay, and is hooking up with older men first through Craigslist and then Grindr, and Bunny is a tall (VERY) girl who just wants to be loved. She lives with her father who is an alcoholic, and seems to be involved in some sort of shady real estate dealings. About halfway through the book something happens to both Bunny and then to Michael that upend their lives, and we follow Michael afterwards, and eventually circle back around the Bunny. Both characters are super interesting, and kept me engaged throughout. A definite recommend- relatively quick read!
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  • Dennis
    January 1, 1970
    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 Knockout 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 Knockout Queen is quirky, sarcastic, honest, and very dark. I finished this book in a day because I just couldn't put it down! Rufi Thorpe's writing in this book is just so refreshingly brutal and has a clear message that she wants to convey. I really saw parallels to Michael's upbringing in this book and it triggered a lot of emotions for me. Prepare to laugh, prepare to hold back tears, this book is the real deal. I'm sorry I'm vague, but I really feel like it's better to go in with no understanding of the plot to really enjoy. I wish I read the book in a slower pace because I'm bummed that it's over— The Knockout Queen is the phenomenal of a story.
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  • Kim McGee
    January 1, 1970
    3 `1/2 starsBunny is a blonde Amazon who loves volleyball but sees herself as a freak due to her 6'3" height. Michael is the long-haired, eyeliner wearer gay kid who lives next door and watches Bunny from afar. He lives with his aunt and is just barely hanging on and sees Bunny and her dad as having it all. Then they meet, become best friends and Michael understands that appearances aren't always truth. High school is bad enough for both of them as they try to find love and family in all the 3 `1/2 starsBunny is a blonde Amazon who loves volleyball but sees herself as a freak due to her 6'3" height. Michael is the long-haired, eyeliner wearer gay kid who lives next door and watches Bunny from afar. He lives with his aunt and is just barely hanging on and sees Bunny and her dad as having it all. Then they meet, become best friends and Michael understands that appearances aren't always truth. High school is bad enough for both of them as they try to find love and family in all the wrong places. Theirs is an odd relationship that is often funny but also debilitating in its sadness. The moral of the story is that we don't get to pick our family and many don't have a perfect time growing up but it is possible to find that perfect friend out there just like Bunny and Michael. An interesting coming of age book that will appeal to readers of quirky family relationships. My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.
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  • Beck
    January 1, 1970
    Dark, Light, and Everything in Between.This may end up being one of my favorite books of 2020. Actually it definitely will be. It was different and refreshing. Two words I do not ordinarily use to describe books, unfortunately. For some reason, many books tend to be formulaic. This story completely broke that mold. It didn't follow the typical rules or any guidebook. The characters had unique voices and perspectives. They were people I really wanted to read about. Bunny and Michael are next-door Dark, Light, and Everything in Between.This may end up being one of my favorite books of 2020. Actually it definitely will be. It was different and refreshing. Two words I do not ordinarily use to describe books, unfortunately. For some reason, many books tend to be formulaic. This story completely broke that mold. It didn't follow the typical rules or any guidebook. The characters had unique voices and perspectives. They were people I really wanted to read about. Bunny and Michael are next-door neighbors and fellow outcasts - for different reasons. Banding together and finding solace in one another's friendship they form a unique and special bond. I loved this book! The relationship between Bunny and Michael was so special to read about. The way it developed - that arc - was enthralling to me. I won't say anymore... you'll just have to find out yourself what happens next.
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  • Linda Lenhoff
    January 1, 1970
    It's really hard to not use the word knockout in describing this book, which is why you're going to start seeing the word everywhere. This is an utterly absorbing piece of art. Thorpe draws her characters with such power, strength, and love that I was determined to find out what would happen to them, not just how the book would end. The novel got a big, beautiful blurb by Kevin Wilson, so I knew I had to read it. And although it was funny and insightful and searing, I need to go and cry for a It's really hard to not use the word knockout in describing this book, which is why you're going to start seeing the word everywhere. This is an utterly absorbing piece of art. Thorpe draws her characters with such power, strength, and love that I was determined to find out what would happen to them, not just how the book would end. The novel got a big, beautiful blurb by Kevin Wilson, so I knew I had to read it. And although it was funny and insightful and searing, I need to go and cry for a while. This is a beautiful book and without a doubt the best book I expect to read all year. This is writing; these are characters; this is language at its best, inventive, humorous, and heartbreaking.
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  • Leo
    January 1, 1970
    4.25It's a dark, heavy novel, and I'm not actually sure how I feel about it.Well, the reason I picked this up is basically because the LGBT+ theme the my favorite narrator.So I didn't realize that it was heavier than I had thought.It's a little unsettling to listen some of the things it described at first, especially since I've been reading YA lately.But I did get used to that, and really into the story.I really like the characters Michael and Bunny, the way they interact with each other and the 4.25It's a dark, heavy novel, and I'm not actually sure how I feel about it.Well, the reason I picked this up is basically because the LGBT+ theme the my favorite narrator.So I didn't realize that it was heavier than I had thought.It's a little unsettling to listen some of the things it described at first, especially since I've been reading YA lately.But I did get used to that, and really into the story.I really like the characters Michael and Bunny, the way they interact with each other and the people around them.It made me think a lot about everything when I was listening to it, which I appreciated. (Sorry, I really not sure what to say lol. I'll update this review when I'm more clear about what I feel about it.)All in all, I kinda liked it.
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