“Wow, wow, WOW. This book handles so many intense, difficult topics — addiction, sexual abuse, foster care, mental health, consent, poverty — in a sensitive, age-appropriate way. I can’t express how perfectly Kimberly Brubaker Bradley walks the line of telling the truth about these situations without ever getting explicit or unnecessarily graphic. I am astounded at how gracefully and carefully this story is laid out. Everyone everywhere should read Fighting Words.”
— Tory Hall, Chapters Books & Gifts, Seward, NE
*Newbery Honor Book* *Odyssey Honor Audiobook*
A candid and fierce middle grade novel about sisterhood and sexual abuse, by two-time Newbery Honor winner and #1 New York Times best seller Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, author of The War that Saved My Life
Kirkus Prize Finalist Boston Globe Best Book of the Year Horn Book Fanfare Best Book of the Year School Library Journal Best Book of the Year Booklist Best Book of the Year Kirkus Best Book of the Year BookPage Best Book of the Year New York Public Library Best Book of the Year Chicago Public Library Best Book of the Year Golden Kite Honor Book Rise: Feminist Book Project Selection ALSC Notable Book Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) Choices Selection Junior Library Guild Selection
"Fighting Words is raw, it is real, it is necessary, a must-read for children and their adults--a total triumph in all ways." —Holly Goldberg Sloan, New York Times bestselling author of Counting by 7s
Ten-year-old Della has always had her older sister, Suki: When their mom went to prison, Della had Suki. When their mom's boyfriend took them in, Della had Suki. When that same boyfriend did something so awful they had to run fast, Della had Suki. Suki is Della's own wolf--her protector. But who has been protecting Suki? Della might get told off for swearing at school, but she has always known how to keep quiet where it counts. Then Suki tries to kill herself, and Della's world turns so far upside down, it feels like it's shaking her by the ankles. Maybe she's been quiet about the wrong things. Maybe it's time to be loud.
In this powerful novel that explodes the stigma around child sexual abuse and leavens an intense tale with compassion and humor, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley tells a story about two sisters, linked by love and trauma, who must find their own voices before they can find their way back to each other.
"Della’s matter-of-fact narration manages to be as funny and charming as it is devastatingly sad. . . . This is a novel about trauma and the scars it leaves on bodies, minds and hearts. But more than that, it’s a book about resilience, strength and healing." —New York Times Book Review
"One of the most important books ever written for kids."—Colby Sharp of Nerdy Book Club "One for the history books....One of the best of the year."—Betsy Bird for A Fuse #8 Production/SLJ "Gripping. Life-changing...I am awe-struck."—Donna Gephart, author of Lily and Dunkin "Compassionate, truthful, and beautiful."—Elana K. Arnold, author of Damsel "I am blown away. [This] may be Kimberly Brubaker Bradley's best work yet."—Barbara Dee, author of Maybe He Just Likes You "A book that lets [kids] know they have never been alone. And never will be."—Kat Yeh, author of The Truth About Twinkie Pie "Meets the criteria of great children's literature that [will] resonate with adults too."—Bitch Media * "At once heartbreaking and hopeful."—Kirkus (starred review) * "Honest [and] empowering...An important book for readers of all ages."—SLJ (starred review) * "Sensitive[,] deft, and vivid."—BCCB (starred review) * "Prepare to read furiously."—Booklist (starred review) * "An essential, powerful mirror and window for any reader."—PW (starred review) * "Enlightening, empowering and--yes--uplifting."—BookPage (starred review) * "Unforgettable."—The Horn Book (starred review)
About the Author
Kimberly Brubaker Bradley isa Newbery Honor winner and a #1 New York Times bestselling author. She earned her degree from Smith College in 1989. She is popular for her fiction and nonfiction. Visit her at kimberlybrubakerbradley.com.
Bahni Turpin is a Los Angeles–based audiobook narrator and actress with many television and film credits. Bahni is a two-time Odyssey Award winner and a two-time recipient of the Audie Award for Best Solo Female Narration. She was named an Audible Narrator of the Year in 2016, and The American Library Association’s Voice of Choice for 2017, and in 2018 she was inducted into the Audible Hall of Fame. Bahni is also an ensemble member of Cornerstone Theater Company in Los Angeles.
"Della’s matter-of-fact narration manages to be as funny and charming as it is devastatingly sad. . . . This is a novel about trauma [but] more than that, it’s a book about resilience, strength and healing. For every young reader who decides to wait and read it when they’re a little older, there will be others for whom this is the exact book they need right now."—New York Times Book Review
★ "Believable and immensely appealing, Suki, Francine, and especially Della light up [the] story . . . Readers will root for these sisters along every step of their daunting journey. Refusing to soft-pedal hard issues, the novel speaks with an astringent honesty, at once heartbreaking and hopeful.” —Kirkus (starred review)
★ Perfectly balances pathos and humor [while] also showcasing the astonishing strength and resilience of children to confront, and eventually heal from, trauma and sexual abuse. . . . Unforgettable.” —The Horn Book (starred review)
★ “Always an engaging and smooth writer, Bradley here unfurls a tale that initially recalls Paterson’s classic Great Gilly Hopkins but then adds layers of complexity . . . It’s a sensitive exploration of the way people can suffer in different ways and need different things, and characterization is deft and vivid . . . Stirring . . . Satisfying . . . Rewarding.” —BCCB (starred review)
★ “Despite the horrors the sisters have endured, there is humor and warmth in this multifaceted, brave novel. Bradley creates fully developed, believable characters that readers will root for. . . . Raw and honest, this ultimately empowering novel is an important book for readers of all ages.” —SLJ (starred review)
★“This story, no PSA, is an honest slice of a difficult life—unvarnished, painful, and raw, [and] Della is a powerhouse of a protagonist . . . Prepare to read furiously.” —Booklist (starred review)
★ “Della’s tough, straightforward narration pulls no punches 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 create an essential, powerful mirror and window for any reader.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
★ “Bradley handles these tough subjects in ways that are enlightening, empowering and—yes—uplifting . . . Fighting Words is a story readers will draw strength from, and Della is a heroine they’ll be unlikely to forget.”—BookPage
“Gripping. Life-changing. Essential. Fighting Words is a testament to the power we have when we stand up, speak up, and stick together. Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s talent is extraordinary. I am awe-struck.” —Donna Gephart, award-winning author of Lily and Dunkin
“One of the best books I've ever read. It will go down as one of the best books, one of the most important books, ever written for kids.” —Colby Sharp of Nerdy Book Club
"The remarkable thing about this book is how infinitely enjoyable it is, in spite of some of the terrible and terrifying content. I picked it up and simply found myself unable to put it down. The VOICE on its 10-year-old narrator Della is one for the history books. One of the best of the year." —Betsy Bird for A Fuse #8 Production/SLJ
“Fighting Words extend[s] the legacy of [Laurie Halse Anderson's] Speak [and] meets the criteria of great children’s literature that manages to resonate with adults too. [Readers] will learn about mental health, poverty, addiction, the foster-care system, the importance of consent, and, finally, the importance of destigmatizing these all-too-common stories. The importance and value of speaking." —Bitch Media
“Rather than shielding her readers, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley arms them with Fighting Words, a compassionate, truthful, and beautiful story about the trauma of sexual abuse and the remarkable power of sisterhood.” —Elana K. Arnold, Printz Honor-winning author of Damsel
“I am blown away. This is a powerful, necessary book about a difficult subject, written with honesty, tenderness, and consummate craft. Della’s story will burrow deep into your heart. Fighting Words may be Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s best work yet.” —Barbara Dee, award-winning author of Maybe He Just Likes You
“I wish all children were lucky enough that the first time they encountered dark and difficult things, it was not through a swift and sudden rift in their real lives, but within the safe pages of a story. This beautiful, heartbreaking, and hopeful book is a place where readers can build strength and resilience, page by page, with the gift of opening, closing, and discussing in their own time and at their own pace. And for those who have, till now, felt alone in their hurtful past, this is a book that lets them know they have never been alone. And never will be.” —Kat Yeh, award-winning author of The Truth About Twinkie Pie
“Absolutely magnificent. The voice on this girl—I cannot get Della out of my head or my heart. Fighting Words is raw, it is real, it is necessary, a must-read for children and their adults—a total triumph in all ways.” —Holly Goldberg Sloan, New York Times bestselling author of Counting by 7s