Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 12
- Grade: 8 to 12
- Reading age: 12
Nobody understands why Tori has suddenly become so moody and violent. When she attacks a stranger in a store, she ends up doing community service at a shelter for victims of domestic violence. She bonds with a little girl named Casey, but when Casey is abducted while in Tori’s care, Tori is racked with guilt, certain that she should have been able to prevent the abduction. During the search for Casey, Tori comes face to face with an ex-boyfriend who sexually assaulted her at a party. Only when she speaks out about the assault is she able to begin to heal.
About the author
Karen Krossing grew up in Thornhill, Ontario, with a family who loved to read. What could she do but read, too? Karen began to create stories when she was eight, and she continued this habit by writing poetry in high school. By then she was hooked on books, so she studied English at university then became a book editor and a technical writer. After Karen had kids, she began writing fiction for children and teens.
Karen uses writing to understand the world around her. In Take The Stairs, which was nominated for the Ontario Library Association White Pine Award, she writes about turning adversity into opportunity through the troubled lives of inner-city teens. In Pure, her latest novel, she explores sticky ethical questions about genetic engineering that today's teens will have to face in their lifetimes.
Karen is a writing instructor at Centennial College and she teaches an after-school writing program for kids and teens through Pegasus Studios in Toronto. She led workshops at the 2003 Canadian Children's Book Camp in Toronto and was on tour with TD Canadian Children's Book Week in 2005. Karen regularly conducts writing workshops and book talks at Canadian schools.
For a detailed interview with Karen, go to http://www.umanitoba.ca/cm/profiles/krossing.html. For contact information, please visit http://www.canscaip.org/bios/krossingk.html.
- Runner-up, Joan F. Kaywell Award for Books that Save Lives
"Tori's emergence from trauma is lightly sketched, a shorthand recovery that relies on narrative conventions rather than character development—making for an easy read about a hard topic, which is no bad thing. Unusually, her coming of age requires not that she stop being violent but that she learn to apply violence appropriately. A fast-paced book about healing through helping others, speaking up and physical self-defense."
"Krossing provides a modern version of an age-old story, with a very real, very strong heroine. Tori’s flaws make her believable, while her growth makes her admirable."
"An explosive and addictive story that will grip the reader with suspense from the jabbing first sentences until the end...A compelling, moving and powerfully emotional story. Highly Recommended."
Recently Read blog
"While Krossing...acknowledges the importance of self-defense, the story makes clear that sharing one’s pain is equally important. Tori’s anger is palpable throughout, and her emotional evolution is empowering."
"Delivers a knockout blow to the idea that women who experience sexual violence need to suffer in silence...Punch Like a Girl sends a powerful message to women of all ages...It's an inspiring story of redemption, and perseverance."
"This cast of memorable characters leaves readers with a story that is a powerful testament to loving relationships—with family, friends, and most importantly, ourselves."
School Library Connection
"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 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."
School Library Journal
"Fierce and compelling, Krossing's characters are vividly drawn and very human."
Marthe Jocelyn, author
"Krossing’s novel touches on several themes, including having the strength to speak out against violence, the realities of domestic violence, abduction and learning to heal...The novel’s action keeps the pages turning...[and] offers readers strong female characters...Recommended."
"A very personal look at the effects of sexual assault on a teenage girl and how she deals with it, an important story to tell. [Krossing] does a good job telling it from the perspective of the teenage victim."
"This story begins with a bang. Tori is in distress and her fury simmers throughout the novel...The writing is raw and in your face; as Tori's issues escalate, the reader tries to keep up. I found myself judging Tori, yet caring about her enough to be curious as to how far she'd go, where her choices would take her...Punch Like a Girl finishes with a punch, leaving the reader satisfied."
Raves and Faves blog
"Punch Like a Girl provides a riveting, suspenseful, and compelling story that helps readers understand the importance of speaking out, being strong, and fighting back."
EducationNOW, Center for Educational Improvement
"This book is incredible because it raises awareness of a problem in the world that is truly horrible. It teaches girls to fight back and speak out. Be strong."
YALSA YA Galley Teen Review
Excellent contemporary read on justice, identityI almost put this book down in the first quarter or so, because it starts out with a teenage girl getting violent as a way to cope with a traumatic experience that she's had (that isn't explained until the end of the book), and while I could understand and empathize with her feelings, it seemed like it was glorifying violence from a sort of feminist equality position.
I'm glad I kept reading, though, because the author did an excellent job of telling the story through the perspective of the teenage MC, and having her naturally progress to a different perspective by wrestling through potential approaches.
There's surprising dimension to this story, given that it's a pretty quick read. The MC's relationships with her friends, teammates, sibling and parents, and ex-boyfriend are all explored and developed. She volunteers (as community service) at a women's shelter with the children, and a situation there helps her grow and deepen her understanding of how to seek justice. Mildly spoilery, but the resolution manages to bring balance to her perspective, allowing that different approaches are necessary in different situations, and doubling down on the redemptive nature of meaningful relationships.
Possible trigger warnings on sexual assault, physical and emotional abuse of women and children. Some violence and language; I'd rate this as PG for preteens and kids (but well worth a read if your kid is ready or if you want to co-read and talk through the ideas) and totally ok for teens 14+. This would be a great book for classrooms to teach through as well. Extremely well done (as many of the Orca Books titles).