Lily is sixteen and feels utterly trapped.
Bullied at school, she doesn’t want to lay her unhappiness at her parents’ door – they have problems of their own. When the kids at school finally go too far, Lily and her family must face reality and decide if she’s going to fight back or remain a victim.
But is stepping up simply about getting revenge? Or about taking charge of her life once and for all?
Having never read a book written entirely in verse before, I was unsure how I would get on with Louisa Reid’s Gloves Off, however, I devoured it in one sitting. This is a powerful book which follows sixteen year old Lily, a girl who is horrifically bullied by her classmates on a daily basis. Not only does the bullying take place within the school grounds, but it also carries on outside of the school walls, causing Lily to feel suffocated and with nowhere to turn.
After a particularly violent incident, Lily’s father encourages her to take up boxing in order to fight back. Whilst Lily isn’t keen on the idea, through boxing she truly finds herself, in more ways than one. You’ll instantly find yourself rooting for Lily as she finds her voice and blossoms into a young woman who knows her worth.
Written in verse, the book can be chaotic and a little messy at times however, this perfectly reflects Lily’s story. The words really sing off the page, fully immersing you into Lily’s complex world. During the book, we also hear things from Bernadette’s perspective (Lily’s mum), which adds another edge, allowing us to get a further insight into their family life.
It’s fantastic to see Lily’s character growth through the story, particularly when she meets Rose at the boxing gym. She allows Lily to see that there’s more to life than what’s currently around her, and allows her to flourish as an individual. Lily’s relationship with her parents is also delicately written, and it’s wonderful to see Bernadette blossom alongside her daughter.
Whilst this is a YA book, this is an important book for women of any age, especially someone who feels like they don’t conform to societal norms. Gloves Off is an empowering read which reminds you to love yourself, and that you have the ability to do anything if you put your mind to it.
Thank you to Guppy Books for the review copy of Gloves Off.