Review: Fighting Ruben Wolfe

Author: Markus Zusak
Genre: Young Adult
Publishers: Definitions (28 Jan 2010) (UK)
Summary: Keep it clean, fellas. Fair fight. Okay. Do it. Don't go down. If you go down, get up. The bell, the fists, the fight. It begins, and the first round is death. The second round is the coffin. The third is the funeral. The Wolfe brothers know how to fight - they've been fighting all their lives. Now there's more at stake than just winning.

First Line: The dog we're betting on looks more like a rat.

Ruben gets in a fight at school and suddenly the Wolfe boys find themselves in an underground boxing league -- $50 for a win, tips for a loss. Ruben is a champion and Cameron is the underdog with a heart. One brother gets the 'win' money and the other gets the tips. People love to tip the underdog. At first the brothers are fighting for the money, but it stops being their main motive. The boys begin to fight for their pride.

Instead moping on the ground and letting life kick you again while you're down, the boys fight.

This novel isn't about boxing. It's about getting up when you are on the floor. And it's about brothers. Zusak's depiction of the Wolfe family is realistic and honest. They face the prospect of their dad going on the dole, vicious rumours about their sister's sexual promiscuity and the worrying need for more money. It's simply refreshing and brilliant.
In the end, Cameron has prove to everyone that he is just as much a Wolfe as his undefeated brother. And Ruben has discovered that there's something more to fighting than just winning.

Remarkable tale from Zusak.