In the world of Christian fiction may I say how over-the-top excited I become when a book is gritty, bloody, and violent? How almost giddy I am over protagonists who are messed up emotionally and spiritually and who aren’t doe-eyed Amish girls?
I love a novel with a dark side so when hope does decide to show up, it shines all the brighter. I love a story that I could recommend to a man that isn’t light and fluffy.
The Fight, by newcomer Luke Wordley, is such a book.
The novel’s setting is the world of boxing, a world that attracts alienated and angry teen, Sam Pennington. Living in a run-down public housing complex in East London, Sam is at home in the violent streets. Fueled by a rage flamed by the untimely death of his father and by his mom’s addiction to alcohol, he is kicked out of one school after another and is frequently in trouble with the law.
Sam is savage and uncontrollable and terribly lost in the seething fury that has become his fortress.
Serendipity intervenes when Robbie, a young boxer from a local boxing club, rescues Sam after a street fight. Sam is then introduced to trainer, Jerry Ambrose, a man with an eye for talent and a past that still tries to cripple him.
The Fight is all about what drives humanity - anger, addiction, fear, family, God. Forces that will either ravage or redeem.
Sam is a lost soul who can function only when his anger is at its peak. Jerry is a Christian struggling with a past that almost destroyed him. When he sees Sam in the ring for the first time, dreams of fame come alive, threatening to bury his faith.
Wordley brings the reader into the world of the fight – both inside the boxing ring and inside the soul. He’s not afraid to create a Christian protagonist who goes off the rails, and who is refreshingly real.
The only aspect of the novel that keeps it from being a total KO is the abrupt and somewhat contrived ending. Wordley, it seems, tries to wrap up the story with a neat little bow. It left me feeling cheated. I wanted to go deeper with the characters. But maybe it was intentional. Perhaps sequels are on the fight card.
I hope so. The Fight left me hoping for a few more rounds.