The Knockout

Sajni Patel. Flux, $17.99 (360p) ISBN 978-1-63583-059-0
For the past nine years, Indian American 17-year-old Kareena Thakkar has practiced Muay Thai, her parents supporting her right to participate in a “violent” sport traditionally “left for boys.” Muay Thai allows Kareena a distraction from day-to-day concerns in Texas: her father’s renal disease, the family’s mounting bills, and the recent implosion of close friendships that has left her feeling adrift. When Kareena’s coach announces that she qualifies for a national-level competition, a path to international recognition abruptly opens up; success would enable her to trial for the world championships, with the possibility of participating in the first Olympic team. But after Kareena starts falling for her “perfect Indian boy” classmate Amit Patel, she must confront societal disapproval reserved for girls, and “Indian girls especially,” who do not conform to the norm. Patel (The Trouble with Hating You, for adults) showcases the fascinating world of female martial arts in her YA debut, as seen through the eyes of a protagonist from a desi background. Though the rushed romance feels lukewarm, and an overreliance on cultural stereotypes dates the novel, Kareena’s brashly confident inner voice produces a fairly engaging read. Ages 14–up. Agent: Katelyn Detweiler, Jill Grinberg Literary. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 11/25/2020
Release date: 01/01/2021
Genre: Children's
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