cover image Knockout Games

Knockout Games

G. Neri. Carolrhoda Lab, $17.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4677-3269-7

A 15-year-old gets mixed up in dangerous activities in this gritty urban drama, partially inspired by real events. After Erica’s parents split up and her mother takes her to live in St. Louis, Erica feels like a fish out of water, part of a small white minority in her new school. Her only refuge is the video camera her father gave her. Then Erica meets Kalvin, the so-called Knockout King, is swept up by his dangerous charm, and starts filming the activities of his “TKO” club, a gang of middle-schoolers who assault random passersby with the intention of knocking them out: “One hit or quit.” As events spiral out of control, with people getting hurt and the authorities cracking down, Erica has to choose between her new relationship and friends, and doing the right thing. Neri (Ghetto Cowboy) skillfully portrays the moral and emotional turmoil of a teen desperate for acceptance, and the repercussions of making hard decisions. Racial and social undercurrents further give this story an intense, thought-provoking edge. Ages 12–up. Agent: Edward Necarsulmer IV, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner. (Aug.)