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Tap Out

Tap Out

4.3 6
by Eric Devine

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Seventeen-year-old Tony Antioch lives in Pleasant Meadows, a trailer park where questions aren't asked since everyone already knows the answers from their own experience. He dreams of rescuing his mother from her constant stream of abusive boyfriends but in reality can barely duck the punches that are aimed at himself.

When Tony is coerced into joining his


Seventeen-year-old Tony Antioch lives in Pleasant Meadows, a trailer park where questions aren't asked since everyone already knows the answers from their own experience. He dreams of rescuing his mother from her constant stream of abusive boyfriends but in reality can barely duck the punches that are aimed at himself.

When Tony is coerced into joining his friend Rob's Mixed Martial Arts class, he is surprised to find that he has a talent that he actually wants to develop. But with a meth-dealing biker gang that is hungry for recruits and a vicious cycle of poverty and violence that precedes him, Tony is going to need a lot more than blood and guts to find a way out.

Gritty, powerful, and unapologetic, Tap Out explores what it takes to stay true to oneself and the consequences of the choices made along the way in order to do so.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Faced with a variety of hard, unpleasant decisions, a teenager turns to mixed martial arts (MMA) in an attempt to take control of his increasingly difficult life. Seventeen-year-old Tony Antioch can’t see any way out of a daily existence that involves a drug-addicted mother, her physically abusive boyfriend, and a meth-dealing biker gang that refuses to take no for an answer when they try to recruit him. Every attempt Tony makes to help his mother, avoid trouble, or better his situation inevitably turns sour, with his MMA training only making him a better, more brutal fighter. It all leads up to a deadly, desperate climax that leaves no one unscathed. Devine doesn’t pull any punches in this violent and graphic tale, and the visceral, profanity-drenched narration is in keeping with the subject matter. Women are used and abused, people are beaten and killed, and drugs and casual sex are prevalent. Moments of hope and optimism are far and few between, and even mature readers may find the story overwhelmingly bleak. Ages 14–up. Agent: Kate McKean, Howard Morhaim Literary Agency. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

"A boy who knows only grinding despair finds hope within the walls of a gym. . . . This is bound to have huge appeal." —Kirkus Reviews

"Devine instantly captures your attention and holds it until the very end. . . . The storyline, the drama and the characters were all thoroughly put together."—School Library Journal Teen

"From the first line, author Devine announces that he plans to hit hard and hit often, and most of the strikes hit home in perhaps the grittiest sports novel since Joshua C. Cohen's Leverage (2011)...this strong outing deserves plenty of readers.—Kirkus Reviews

"Devine doesn't pull any punches."—Publishers Weekly

"Highly recommended."—LifeIsBetterwithBooks.com

"It is honest, raw and emotional, and deserves a place on every high school and public library bookshelf."—You Decide: Should I Read It or Not? blog

"It is a wonderful tale of realizing you have to make your own decisions if you want your life to go anywhere." — Barefoot Dokusha blog

"[A] book that is relevant to teenage boys and one that they will read." —The Literati Press

VOYA - Cassandra Rondinella
Tony Antioch has lived in Pleasant Meadows trailer park his whole life, with his strung-out mother and a revolving door of abusive boyfriends. Most often left to fend for himself, Tony spends most of his time away from home in a world that is just as scary on the outside. In an agreement made with the principal in order to not be suspended, Tony takes a mixed martial arts class at a local gym where he learns to defend himself and trust others. Tony loses focus when he and his friend Rob unwillingly become involved with the Agnostic Front, a major drug-dealing organization whose leader is a friend's father. Deals take place right outside Tony's trailer. Thrown into a world of drugs, prostitution, and murder, Tony realizes this is not a path of his choosing, but with every attempt he makes to leave, he is reminded that his life could be at stake, as well as the lives of those he loves. Devine attempts to paint a realistic picture of gangs and drugs. He gives the illusion of hope but puts more emphasis on the depression of violence, murder, pregnancy, prostitution, and human trafficking. There are many characters who enter and exit the novel and loosely tie the story together, but there are almost too many characters and subplots/situations which are underdeveloped and, in some cases, unnecessary to the plot. This book should be placed on a secondary list of titles to be purchased if there is money left over in a library budget. Reviewer: Cassandra Rondinella
Kirkus Reviews
A boy who knows only grinding despair finds hope within the walls of a gym. Tony's life is bleak and violent, as his drug-addict mother's boyfriend regularly beats her up and gleefully includes Tony if he objects. At school, the boyfriend's nephew further compounds the bullying. Until the principal, Mr. O, decides to help, Tony's buddy Rob and the Vo-Tec auto-mechanics class are the only things that lighten his load. Now, not only does Rob want Tony to join the gym where they can be coached in Mixed Martial Arts, but the principal is threatening to take away Vo-Tec if Tony doesn't go. Tony sees himself as trailer trash, with no options and no hope for a better life. Tony finds the gym's fight world, with its rules and demands for toughness, a place where he can receive rare praise. At the gym he finds some respect, guys he can trust and a chance. A mighty confrontation is inevitable and proves predictably brutal. Full of foul language and crude talk, the painful scenarios never let up, including a horrifying encounter in which Tony must listen to a prostitute be beaten, knowing that earlier an abusive father sent his unwilling daughter to the same fate. This is bound to have huge appeal to kids whose lives are being mirrored, and it may prompt luckier readers to take some positive action. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Product Details

Running Press Book Publishers
Publication date:
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
File size:
540 KB
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Tap Out

By Eric Devine

Running Press Kids

Copyright © 2012 Eric Devine
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780762445691

From Chapter 1:
I am a pussy. I know this, and not much else.

A wet smack sounds in the next room. My mother cries in pain. "Please Cameron, I didn't mean anything." He hits her again, twice, dense flesh on flesh.

"The fuck you didn't." Cameron, my mother's boyfriend, slurs. She must have made some joke that he was too drunk to understand. Again.

So he's kicking the shit out of her. Again.

I'm sitting on the corner of my bed, listening, but not doing anything, even though I want to. My muscles are all coiled, tight, like I'm ready to roll, but I won't. Cameron is wiry, works construction and could toss me across the fucking room. At least that's what I tell myself about him, this boyfriend. I've had excuses for all the others as well, and an entire list of reasons for my father.

He hits her again, a dull thud, the sound of his fist hitting her head. "You gonna apologize or what?"

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I didn't mean anything."

Another blow, and she hits the wall. The house vibrates. "Damn straight you dumb bitch." The door squeals as he pounds down the hall and the fridge opens. He's grabbing a beer, or two. The can clicks and pops, followed by the sound of him falling into the recliner. The volume on the TV goes up: lots of screaming and yelling.

Fuck, maybe it's over. I grab the back of my head and bury my face into the crooks of my elbows. I want to block out the sound of him and forget what I just heard, but my mom's crying seeps through the paper-thin walls. I hate the noise, but more, I hate the redundancy. How many times has she been like this? It's impossible to keep track, there's been so many.

Her cry lifts and then is muffled. She must be using her pillow. I hope so, because if he hears her... Hopefully she'll be able to calm and then sit, red-faced and swollen, and wait for Cam get a sleepy buzz. Then, like always, she can ice or shower, depending on how bad it is. Once it started, it only took them three months to find this pattern. Not a record, but pretty fast.

Wonder how long it took for her and my dad?

He's the reason I'm such a little bitch now, hiding out instead of stepping up. As a kid I never once went after him, just daydreamed about taking him out. In the end I didn't have to, he just left. As have all the rest. But Cameron's still hanging around, and this time I see myself stepping into her bedroom when he's wailing on her. I grab his arm mid-swing and twist him around. He sees me and his eyes go wide, but then he gets that sneer like he always does. But before he can do anything, I head-butt him. He collapses to his knees, grabbing his face as the blood pumps out. I ignore it and put my fist into his jaw. No, through it. My mom screams, but I ignore her and enjoy his pain. He goes to speak but realizes that his jaw is shattered and I laugh, because I know in that moment I could kill him. I may not be big, but you don't get beat your entire life without hardening. I could take him out. I have the capacity, and that is enough for me, because I don't want to actually do it and be like him, or the others. In my fantasy I help my mother up and walk her out of the room, away from the oozing mass in the corner. We step into a cleaner version of our life, where we're not confined to our prison of a trailer and no one sees us as white trash.

It's never gonna happen though, so there's no point in wishing for it. I stand up and walk to the bathroom and the trailer wobbles. Or it could be I'm still amped and it feels that way. Or the fucking thing may really be falling apart. Why wouldn't it? Everything else is.


Excerpted from Tap Out by Eric Devine Copyright © 2012 by Eric Devine. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Eric Devine is currently a writer, high school English teacher, and educational consultant. He is also the author of This Side of Normal, a novel about a teen struggling with type 1 diabetes. He lives in Waterford, New York, with his family, and can be found online at ericdevine.org and on Twitter @eric_devine.

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Tap Out 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's fowl, it's hard-core, and it's scary, because in true Devine fashion, it's REAL. It's eye-opening to the horrible life some people are thrust into. This will shed light on the nightmare. Hopefully everyone is wise enough to accept it, and share it, and encourage others to read it. I'm telling everyone I know, because this guy knows what he's talking about.
BethFehlbaum More than 1 year ago
Eric Devine's TAP OUT is a searing, unforgettable read. When I compare TAP OUT to S.E. Hinton's groundbreaking THE OUTSIDERS, I do not do so lightly. This book is absolutely amazing. Tony Antioch is a 17 year old facing decisions that no person of any age should have to make. Trapped by circumstances wholly outside of his control, Tony is representative of countless real-life young adults dealing with unimaginable horrors. This book should be required reading for anyone working with impoverished, disenfranchised youth. Even though it's fiction, it will give insight into what many of our students are dealing with. In reading TAP OUT, I was reminded of a speech given by one of the original Freedom Writers, when he explained that so many school days when he didn't have his homework, it was because he had been up all night taking care of his mother after she was beaten nearly to death by his father. As a teacher, I hope that TAP OUT will open some hearts to what others endure on a daily basis; as a reader, I found TAP OUT to be a heart-pounding piece of extraordinary fiction! Looking forward to more from Eric Devine.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tapout is a awsome book, i hate reading and couldnt put it down! Great read about real life situations. I reccomend to everyone;)
Gordon1 More than 1 year ago
Tap Out is a book that delivers high octane rhetoric from the first to last words with an underpinning premise about character and morals, during high stressed and unfavorable conditions. The MMA avenue was a great platform to deliver this message. I highly recommend reading this book. With two books published to date, Eric Devine seems to be Generation X’s Jim Harrison.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read it off my old kindle before chrostmas and it sucked!u