Title: The Knockout
Author: Sajni Patel
Genre/s and tags: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction, POC cast, Asian lead
Publisher: Flux Books
Publication date: January 26, 2021
Content warnings: Bullying, terminal illness, graphic violence (in terms of describing the fight scenes)
A rising star in Muay Thai figures out what (and who) is worth fighting for in this #ownvoices YA debut full of heart.
If seventeen-year-old Kareena Thakkar is going to alienate herself from the entire Indian community, she might as well do it gloriously. She’s landed the chance of a lifetime, an invitation to the US Muay Thai Open, which could lead to a spot on the first-ever Olympic team. If only her sport wasn’t seen as something too rough for girls, something she’s afraid to share with anyone outside of her family. Despite pleasing her parents, exceling at school, and making plans to get her family out of debt, Kareena’s never felt quite Indian enough, and her training is only making it worse.
Which is inconvenient, since she’s starting to fall for Amit Patel, who just might be the world’s most perfect Indian. Admitting her feelings for Amit will cost Kareena more than just her pride–she’ll have to face his parents’ disapproval, battle her own insecurities, and remain focused for the big fight. Kareena’s bid for the Olympics could very well make history–if she has the courage to go for it.
A big thank you to Flux Books for approving my e-arc request via Edelweiss!
(This, of course, did not affect my overall opinion of the book.)
Hello book nerds! It’s been a little while, I feel like. But I am back with an another review. This time it’s an #ownvoices YA debut!
Though the cover is quite simple, please do not be deceived. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the amount by the depth and the wonderful overall message this book is trying to send to its readers.
Equally funny and inspiring, The Knockout is a heartfelt #ownvoices YA debut that will surely speak to a lot of teen Asian readers.
My thoughts on The Knockout
When I first came across The Knockout, I was already so intrigued. An Indian-American main character who excels in Muay Thai but is also having trouble fitting into her community? I was excited to dive into the story and find out what it has in store for me. And whew, the answer is a lot!
The writing style was great and I was able to connect with Kareena as a main character. The tone was light and funny most of the time, and yet, the author knew just when to insert serious and earnest tones and scenes all throughout the book. I think one of the things that really impressed me was the balance between those fun and significant moments. This book was clearly well-written and the message it was trying to send to the readers were on point.
The characters made the story even more lively. Kareena was an amazing heroine and main character! She was feisty and very passionate, especially when it came to things she deeply cared about, like Muay Thai and helping her parents. My only problem was that sometimes she could be too stubborn and too proud. She could also turn a little judgmental (which was ironic, given that she didn’t like how others judged her and her family). Still, I connected with her through her passionate self and her trouble (which she would then learn to accept) of not fitting into their community, and she would realize that that’s completely okay.
Surprisingly, I also loved the romance in this book! Now, this is a big deal for me because I rarely ship cishet characters. However, Kareena and Amit were just too good, and their friends-to-lovers journey was something I welcomed wholeheartedly.
The plot was also great and I liked that it came a full circle. If there’s one thing I don’t like in a book, it’s the feeling of something lacking. With The Knockout though, I was very satisfied when I reached the end of the book. We see the main character grow and find a supportive community, sub plots were not left unanswered, and the romance seemed like a cherry on top.
(I’m trying hard not to spoil too much, but honestly, this is good, I swear!)
I also loved (like really loved!) how this book tackled several social issues and harmful stereotypes. This book tackled the stigma/prejudice towards female athletes in rougher sports, being shunned because of not conforming to the more traditional ways of a culture or community, girls not looking “feminine” enough or girls having a muscular build. It was all so wonderful to see. Kudos to the author for that!
Overall, The Knockout is a heartfelt and wonderful #ownvoices YA debut. One that will inspire you to reach for your dreams and stand up for who you are.