cover image Fighting Words

Fighting Words

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Dial, $17.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-9848-1568-2

In Tennessee, Delicious “Della” Nevaeh Roberts, 10, has always counted on the fierce, wolflike love of her 16-year-old sister, Suki. Suki raised Della after their mother was incarcerated for a meth-related accident and they were left with her truck driver boyfriend, Clifton. But when Suki finds Clifton pulling down Della’s underwear, the girls flee and are placed in the care of gruff foster mother Francine. Della gradually adapts to the safety of her new life, enjoying a new friendship but occasionally getting in trouble for trying to stop a physical bully in her class. For Suki, however, newfound stability results in a mental health decline that goes unchecked at first, despite Francine’s attempts to get her help. Della’s tough, straightforward narration pulls no punches (“I’ve learned that some things are almost impossible to talk about because they’re things no one wants to know”) as she learns the power of using her “big mouth” and inspires others to tell their stories when and how they are able. Sharp characterizations by Newbery Honoree Brubaker Bradley (The War That Saved My Life) create an essential, powerful mirror and window for any reader: “I was glad, you know, to read the book. To know it didn’t only happen to me.” An author’s note includes resources for young readers. Ages 10–up. Agent: Ginger Knowlton, Curtis Brown. (Aug.)