________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 14 . . . . December 2, 2011


Girl Fight. (Side Streets).

Faye Harnest.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2011.
106 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55277-865-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55277-866-1 (hc.).

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.

Review by Christina Pike.

**** /4



Droplets of sweat beam from my face.

She turns me over. I am pathetic. I am sprawled on the concrete. I think the evil nemesis look Kate's giving me is crushing my ribs. If she slams my skull against the curb, how much blood will ooze out? She grabs a fistful of my brown hair and whacks my chin into the pavement.

CRACK! My chin is wet. My chin vibrates. I can taste my bloody tongue. I am a mess.

This is not what's supposed to happen. I try to pull myself up with my hands, which have bits of gravel digging their way inside them, but I fail and crumble back to the ground.

Knockout. Kate wins.

I think I see words hidden in the hatch marks drawn on her face. They're saying: This is you now. You are weak. You are a loser. You will only fight until you give up, and you will never win.

Everyone is watching me, and everyone has their surprised faces on. I'm surprised too. I haven't lost a fight since the first fight I won.

In true villainess form, Kat stands over me. She looks mangy, dirty, but tough. She lights a cigarette. She taps the ashes, TAP TAP. She starts to laugh as her friends circle her, then they walk away. And leave me.

This is the end of me being a hero.

The end.

In Girl Fight, Faye Harnest has written a novel depicting a high school teen's struggle to carve out an identity for herself. Zadie Brown is known as a fighter who win every fight she enters. That is until Kat knocks her out. At this turn of events, Zadie wants only revenge and to get back her fighter reputation. After she hospitalizes Kat, Zadie is suspended for two weeks, and it is during this time that she begins to question everything. She questions who she wants to be. When she is challenged by one of Kat's friends to a fight, she walks away. It isn't until Kat exacts her revenge on Zadie's little sister, Ramona, that Zadie realizes it is impossible to break away.

      Girl Fight begins, as the title implies, with two girls fighting. Similar to most teen conflicts, the fight is a result of one girl's kissing the other girl's boyfriend. Unexpectedly, the main character Zadie loses her first fight, and she is consumed with exacting revenge, a very typical adolescent response. It isn't until Zadie hospitalizes Kat and is uncertain of whether or not she has gone too far that Harnest allows her readers a glimpse into Zadie's multiple layers. The story isn't tied up into a neat package, however. As Zadie tries to fight her past, she is challenged, but these are only small tests of her character. It isn't until Zadie's sister is beaten up that Harnest allows Zadie to truly begin to see herself.

      Girl Fight is about family relationships and finding oneself. It also goes below the surface to reveal why Zadie is the way she is. Harnest, in revealing Zadie's character, allows her readers a glimpse into the psyche of a 16-year-old.

Highly Recommended.

Christina Pike is the principal of St. Paul's Junior High in St. John's, NL.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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