Fight Night by Miriam Toews is a wonderful character study that reminds the reader of the value of family.
I received this book as a Secret Santa gift in 2021. A community engagement project happened where you could be a Secret Santa for someone in the community and receive a gift by. I figured that sounded like fun (especially since the entry fee went to a local animal organization!), and joined in on the event. We had to fill out a list of what we wanted to inspire our Secret Santa on their shopping spree. To no one’s surprise at all, I put on Canadian authors and indie authors. And, lucky for me, I received a Canadian’s author’s book! Fight Night by Miriam Toews was such an excellent pick, and something I likely would have never found on my own! I was delighted, thrilled, over the moon, and all of the other synonyms you can come up with. And, of course, I started reading it immediately.
Fight Night is narrated by Swiv, a spunky nine-year-old who lives in Toronto, Ontario with her Grandma and her pregnant Mom. Her Grandma is quite sickly, but has a personality that goes unmatched. Swiv gets expelled from school, which leaves her at home learning from good ol’ Grandma! Grandma takes on the challenge to teach Swiv all about life, and creates the perfect project. They are going to write a letter to her unborn sibling (affectionately called “Gord”). Swiv and Grandma get into all sorts of hijinks and Swiv learns many stories from Grandma’s past. So, why the title? Because Gord is gonna need to “learn to fight.”
This book is not my normal read, and I can be quite honest about that. Contemporary fiction isn’t something I end up diving into often, and not because I don’t enjoy it. The jump into this book was so odd for me, since I was binging romance and thrillers like it was nobody’s business. While Fight Night starts a little slow, Swiv and Grandma’s adventures start to speed up the pace and had me glued to the book. It’s such a fun and delightful tale, leading to a bittersweet ending. This story has something to teach everyone – whether it’s the value of family, tough choices, the growth and trauma in generations, or just women being strong AF. Throughout this book, we learn how each of the women fight – for their rights, for their life, for their freedom, and just to be themselves. It’s a tai-generational story that will bring smiles, laughs, and even tears.
I did love this story. Miriam Toews has an amazing way with words and was able to get into the head of a nine-year-old. It felt like a kid wrote it, which was so incredibly impressive. Three generations of women living in one house is quite the show, and seeing the triumphs and troubles of their relationships and the growth they each had was magical. Miriam Toews deserves a high five and an award for the spectacular way she brought this story to life. It felt all too real, as if these women could be my next door neighbours.
I felt for Swiv so much in this book. This is a nine-year-old who doesn’t fit in at school, and ends up getting expelled. She doesn’t have a Dad, and her Mom is going through tough times with her acting career while pregnant, and her Grandma is also sick. We can assume they aren’t the most well off people in the world (based off of their basically mac’n’cheese dinners). This little kid has so much responsibility on her shoulders that it is unbelievable! She’s having a rough go, and is anxious and worried and almost seems to be taking care of the adults in her life. There is such great strength in that little girl, and in my mind, when the story is over, she lives a happy and blossoming life. She’s such a relatable kid, and one that will pull at all of your heart strings.
The moral? We can both love and fight at the same time. Life is hard and throws many troubles our way. Life will not go the way we want it to, but we can fight our hardest and do our best to get through. We can make our own paths, even through the hardest of times. We aren’t perfect. But, guess what? That’s the beauty in life. We can make mistakes, have our crazy moments, and just exist. There’s no right or wrong answer when we take the steering wheels in our own hands and just do our best. We all have the right to fight.
This is such a great women’s empowerment tale told through the eyes of a nine-year-old. I honestly wish I could have an English Professor rip this book apart and teach me all of the themes. It was so truly amazing, and definitely one of my top books and best recommendations for 2022.
Five out of five stars!
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