Fleur Waters never takes anything seriouslyuntil she shows up at her local boxing club one day to prove a point. She's the only girl there, and the warm-up alone is exhausting . . . but the workout gives her an escape from home and school, and when she lands her first uppercut on a punching bag she feels a rare glow of satisfaction.
So she goes back the next week, determined to improve. Fleur's overprotective mom can't abide the idea of her entering a boxing ring (why won't she join her pilates class instead?). Her friends don't get it either and even her boyfriend, 'Prince' George, seems concerned by her growing muscles and appetitebut it's Fleur's body, Fleur's life. So she digs in her heels in hope that she can overcome the obstacles and strike a blow for equality.
|Publisher:||Feiwel & Friends|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 17 Years|
About the Author
T. S. Easton is an experienced author of fiction for all ages in the UK. He lives in Surrey with his wife and three children. Boys Don't Knit received a Carnegie Medal nomination (2015), a Kirkus Best Book of 2015 as well as three starred reviews.
Read an Excerpt
I groaned inwardly. It was a cold Tuesday morning in May and my parents were arguing about the dishwasher again.
"Honestly, Liz," Dad said, "you don't need to rinse the plates before putting them in. That's the whole point of a dishwasher."
"If you rinse the plates," Mum said patiently, "then the dishwasher is more effective. Otherwise, you get potato starch streaking the glasses."
"Look," Dad said, "why don't you go and sit down and let me do this?"
"Oh no," Mum said. "I'm not falling for that. You'll start putting wooden spoons in."
"You CAN put wooden spoons in," Dad said. "That's why we bought the German one."
"If you two don't stop arguing about the dishwasher," I butted in, "I will throw it into a quarry."
"We're not arguing, darling," Mum said brightly. "We're just discussing."
Other unimportant things my parents argue about just discuss include:
Whether to butter both pieces of bread in a sandwich, or leave one side for condiments only.
Whether to put your coat on a few minutes before leaving in order to "get toasty" or just as you leave so you "feel the benefit."
Whether jam or cream goes first on a scone.
Whether Jaffa Cakes are cookies or cakes. ("There's a clue in the name, Liz!")
Whether you're allowed to fold the corners of book pages over to keep your place.
None of these issues will ever be resolved. Ever.
I love my parents dearly, but they drive me crazy sometimes. Aside from her dishwasher obsession, my mother is possibly the most terrified person on the planet. She panics over the tiniest things and she won't let me do anything that she considers even remotely dangerous. She made me wear a neon vest on my walk to school right up to eighth grade before I rebelled and threw it into a duck pond. Even now she insists I wear a blinking light on my backpack. Last month I asked her if I could go to London with my friend Blossom to attend a Knitters Against War protest march and she immediately had palpitations and got a migraine.
"A march? There might be terrorists!"
"Mum, they're knitters."
"There'll be an extremist wing. Don't you know how dangerous London is? A man knocked me over on a tube platform once."
"By accident," I reminded her. I'd heard the story before.
"I could have fallen in front of a TRAIN," she said dramatically. "My life would have been snuffed out in a moment."
"Dad would have found someone else," I said. "He's resilient."
My father drives me mad, too. He's one of life's fence-sitters. To Dad, there are always two ways of looking at things. "Faults on both sides," he says about the conflict in Israel and Palestine. "Both candidates make good points," he says whenever two lunatic politicians argue with each other on the radio. "There are two schools of thought," he explains when I ask him what he thinks about the death penalty. Apparently there are two schools of thought about the death penalty, but only one about rinsing plates before loading the dishwasher.
I watched the two of them edging around each other in the narrow kitchen. One would put something in the machine, only for the other to reposition it, or take it out altogether.
"You CERTAINLY can't put that knife in," Mum said.
"Why not?" Dad asked.
"That's a paring knife. It's vital that it remains sharp. The water will blunt it."
"So how would you suggest I wash it?"
"In the sink!"
"Using what? Sand?"
They drove my sister, Verity, batty, too, which is why she moved to New Zealand a year ago, along with Rafe, my two-year-old nephew. I missed Verity and Rafe dreadfully, but I didn't miss the arguments. Mum and Verity fought like stoats in a sock.
"Fleur? Fleur?" I realized my father was trying to get my attention.
"What do you think?" he asked.
"I think you are both insane," I replied.
"Yes, but what do you think about putting paring knives in the dishwasher?"
"I think," I said, getting up from the table and grabbing my schoolbag, "that there are two schools of thought on the issue."CHAPTER 2
Ian Beale intercepted me as I reached the door. "Don't let him out!" Mum yelled. "He's on antibiotics." Ian Beale is our old dog. We got him when the last dog died, maybe ten years ago. The last dog's name was Patch, which I thought quite dull. I was so upset when he died that Mum made the mistake of letting me choose the new dog's name. I was a big EastEnders fan back then. Even now one of my favorite things is when Mum calls him in for tea. "Ian Beale! Ian Beale!"
Not a lot happens in our village.
Ian Beale suffers from any number of chronic ailments and I believe may be Britain's most medicated dog. He has to take so many potions and remedies that he sometimes can't manage his dinner. I feel very sorry for him and wonder sometimes if he wouldn't be better off being allowed to run wild, even if it means he goes to the big kennel in the sky a little sooner. But that sort of thinking isn't allowed in our house. I dropped to one knee and gave him a big hug, holding my breath as I did so. Ian Beale is rather whiffy. As I opened the door narrowly and squeezed through, he watched me go, a slight look of betrayal in his bloodshot eyes.
It was early to be leaving, but I needed to escape. After all, better to arrive early at school than to be sent to prison for stabbing your parents with a paring knife. We live in a village about two miles outside the town of Bosford, sort of between Hastings and Brighton, about an hour and a half from London.
School is in Bosford, and I usually walk with my friend Blossom, who also lives in the village. Sometimes we get a lift with another friend, Pip, who has a car but shouldn't be allowed to have a tricycle in my opinion. He is a terrible driver. He doesn't go fast, and I suspect he's never even broken the speed limit. But unfortunately driving slowly doesn't stop you from hitting things, or crossing the white line into oncoming traffic. When he parks he creeps incredibly slowly into the space, showing brilliant clutch control, then invariably, at the speed of an exhausted snail, he'll hit the wall with a soft crunch.
I ran into Blossom by the church. I've known Blossom forever and she is the best person in the world. She has mad curly hair and twinkling green eyes. She's a bit taller than me, but most people are.
"All right, Fleur?" she asked.
"All right, Blossom?" I replied. She fell into step beside me and we strolled down the Bosford Road.
"So are you going to Battle on Saturday?" I asked. Going to Battle was a thing we did. Battle is a small town near Hastings and the place where the actual Battle of Hastings was fought in 1066. When I was a child I used to think that battles were called battles because the first one had been fought in Battle.
But of course Battle is called Battle because it was named after the battle. There wasn't anything there before the battle except some cows in a field and, I guess, a really rubbish gift shop. English Heritage is always looking for people to work there, and we take the bus down on a Saturday morning to earn money dressing as Saxon peasants and relating the details of the battle to jetlagged American tourists. We know a LOT about the Battle of Hastings, although we may have made some of it up. Like once I told some lovely people from Iowa that William of Normandy had married his own horse. Also I have to admit our accents are a bit hit-and-miss. I do a sort of West Country pirate accent; Pip does Scouser because that's the only one he can do. Blossom usually ends up doing a sort of Mary Poppins cheeky, chirpy Cockney thing.
I love going to Battle, but the only problem is you have to dress up in period costume and you get funny looks on the bus when you're wearing a wimple. Since Pip got his car he usually drives us down, which is a lot easier because it means he doesn't have to argue with the bus driver about whether he can put his halberd in the luggage rack. Blossom and I mostly do crafts with the kids, and sometimes she helps out with the ghost walk through the abbey. Pip is a guard. He wears leather armor and tries to scare the children, but they just laugh at him. We're very much Team Harold when it comes to the battle; Saxon blood courses through our veins. In my opinion, there are two types of people in the world: Normans and Saxons. And there are two types of Saxons: the noble thanes and the peasant churls. I'm definitely a Saxon churl. A defender. Minding my own business. Keeping myself to myself, not sailing about the world conquering people and marrying horses.CHAPTER 3
As we walked down the narrow lane, fat bees lurching drunkenly from poppy to cowslip, Blossom was moaning about her boyfriend. He comes from Glasgow, calls himself Magnet and works in a tattoo shop as an assistant piercer. I quite like him, but Blossom finds him irritating. Also he's never around. He's a total hippie and wants to live off-grid, but all that means is he sometimes turns off his iPhone.
"For someone who is all about peace and harmony in nature, he's often really grumpy," Blossom said.
"He's not grumpy," I replied. "He's just Scottish."
"He's got himself involved in something called the Project," Blossom went on. "It's an experimental, self-sufficient community that he and his friends from the Socialist Action Group are trying to set up in a thistle-strewn field in Essex."
"Why?" I asked.
"They're all convinced that capitalism is about to implode and society will crumble into anarchy," she said. "They're basically left-wing survivalists. It sounds pretty grim, and apparently when you're in the field you can't get a phone signal."
"He told me he wants me to move there and live with him when it's finished."
"What?! What did you say to that?"
"I told him that if the apocalypse comes," she said, "and capitalism does crumble, then I'm determined to go down with the sinking ship, clutching my lifeless iPad."
"Shush a minute," I said. "Can you hear something ...?"
We stopped walking and held our heads at a slight angle in that way you do when you want to make it clear you're listening really hard. I could hear a blackbird shouting madly at us, and the sound of our neighbor Mr. Palmer's tractor in a nearby field, but those weren't the sounds that worried me. It was a clunking, roaring sound of a badly tuned engine chugging through the hedgerows.
"Is that ...?" Blossom began just as the car came trundling slowly around the tight corner of the narrow lane. At the speed it was going there should have been ample time to stop. The driver saw us, and his eyes widened in alarm, but the car carried on coming, heading right for us. We squealed and leaped into the hazel hedge as it missed us by inches. I heard a scraping thump. Blossom groaned underneath me and I peered out of the hedge to see the little white Clio had crashed into the hedge on the other side of the lane. We got to our feet and I emerged from the scratchy branches. I stepped toward the car, brushing myself off, as the driver's-side door opened and a long leg emerged. That long leg was followed by a succession of other long limbs and necks and heads and all the other bits you'd expect to see attached to an extremely tall human male. Atop all this gangliness was a grinning, pale face under a shock of bright red hair.
"Pip!" Blossom yelled. "Why didn't you stop?"
"My foot missed the brake," he said.
"You nearly killed us!"
Pip blinked at us in surprise. "You were walking in the middle of the road," he said. "To be fair." If I was asked to describe Pip in two words, I would probably choose "drunk giraffe." Watching him walk, I sometimes wondered if his joints had been put on backward because everything seemed to bend the wrong way.
"You need to work on your braking skill set," Blossom said.
"Would you like a lift to school?" Pip asked.
"Yes, please," Blossom said.
"Magnet wouldn't approve," I told her. "After all, when capitalism crumbles there'll be no more cars and we'll walk everywhere."
"I know," she agreed. "But let's cross that bridge when we come to it."
"If we come to a bridge, Pip will drive off it and we'll drown," I pointed out.
"I'll take my chances," she said. "I have a blister." She got into the backseat of Pip's Clio.
"Is your car okay?" I asked him.
"Yes, think so," he replied. "Why?"
"It's just that you crashed into the hedge," I explained.
"I didn't crash," he said. "I parked. Are you getting in?"
Deciding I was probably slightly safer as a passenger inside Pip's car than a pedestrian out of it, I got into the back with Blossom. Pip folded himself back into the driver's seat with difficulty before puttering off down the lane, blowing black smoke, me calling out directions. I always feel like the navigator for the world's slowest rally driver when I'm in a car with Pip. "Right-hand coming up in twenty ... fifteen, ten ... eight ... five ... three ... one ... TURN ... TURN FOR THE LOVE OF GOD ... left-hand sharp ... keep going ... now straighten the wheel ... mind that horse ... red light ... red light ... RED LIGHT!"
I'm only sixteen and have never so much as depressed a clutch, but I'm still a better driver than Pip. I've broached the subject with Mum of driving lessons when I turn seventeen, but just the thought brings her out in a cold sweat. She showed me a very long and unnecessarily detailed article she'd found featuring statistics that said there was a much lower mortality rate for people who waited until they were nineteen before taking their test. I didn't push it. It's pointless to argue with her when she's made up her mind.CHAPTER 4
Pip dropped us at the school gates and drove off to find a parking space somewhere in the side streets. The school is quite modern. It was built about ten years ago and is starting to look tatty. It's all wooden clapboard and brick and floor-to-ceiling windows that never get cleaned. Originally there were going to be loads of playing fields, but half of them got sold off for affordable housing and now there is an entire community of people right behind the school with dozens of tiny children who spend the whole day peering through the fence calling you rude names. It's quite disconcerting when you're trying to eat your lunch in the sunshine and a six-year-old is calling you a cockwomble.
As Blossom and I headed toward the main entrance I sensed someone charging up behind me. I turned and my heart sank to see it was Bonita Clark. Bonita doesn't suit her name in any way. She should be petite and balletic and smiley, but Bonita is none of those things. She is strong and stomping and sweary. And here she was, almost sprinting as she tried to get ahead of me and through the door first. The thing about Bonita is that she is the most extraordinarily competitive person on the planet. She's captain of the netball team and the field hockey team. She runs cross-country and plays soccer with the boys, and she's good. There is much to be admired in Bonita.
I'm afraid to say that Bonita doesn't feel the same way about me. Our difficulties started a couple years ago when I was forced into the field hockey team against my will eagerly seized my opportunity for sporting glory. Bonita was captain and tried to explain the rules and tactics to me before our first game. She put me at fullback. It didn't end well. I let my attention wander, and the other team scored a goal while I was texting.
Bonita was furious. "It's not that I expected you to be the best of the best," she said. "But I thought you'd at least watch the game." It wasn't much better when I was paying attention, to be honest. I got overexcited at one point and I took out one of my own teammates with a wild swing of the stick that a Saxon yeoman would have been proud of. Anyway, after that I somehow found myself off Bonita's team and onto Holly Frobisher's, though what poor Holly had done to deserve that I really don't know. Now I often have to play against Bonita, and she's always knocking me over, or running rings around me, trying to humiliate me, which isn't difficult, I have to admit. After all, I have as much sporting endeavor as Kanye West has humility. Bonita thinks sports are important, competing is important, winning is important. I don't. We're just different. What I don't understand is why it bothers her so much.
Most upperclassmen aren't required to take any kind of sporting activity. But Bosford is an exception. Our glorious motto is Mens sana in corpore sano. A healthy mind in a healthy body. The theory goes that only by exercising the body and the mind together can true excellence be reached. "Try telling that to Stephen Hawking," I said to Miss Collins, my advisor, when she told me I had to sign up for field hockey again this semester.
"When you're as brilliant as Stephen Hawking, you can stop playing competitive sports," she said, handing me a field hockey stick and a pair of shin pads. "Until then you're at fullback."
So that's Bonita; she just has to be best at everything. At netball, at field hockey, at soccer, at running. And now she wanted to be first through the school door. It was a double door, but only one door was ever open. The other was bolted shut. Now, what I should have done, of course, was just stop and let her go by. Who cared who went through the door first? I didn't care if she scored a dozen goals against me in field hockey, so why should it matter if she got through the doorway into the school before me? But I was feeling mischievous today.
I think sometimes I just get bored with doing the sensible thing and so I end up doing something idiotic just to see what happens. Like the time I took up the sousaphone. The teachers had told us all we needed to choose an instrument. Most people were sensible and went with flute or clarinet. The boys all chose guitar or drums. But because I thought it would be funny, I went with the most bloody inconvenient instrument I could think of, which is a brass monster so huge you have to wear it. I could hardly lift the thing, let alone get a noise out of it, and of course I gave up after a few weeks. Anyway, today was one of those days, and I pretended I was going to let Bonita pass through the doors first, but at the last second I lunged forward and got there at exactly the same time as her. We got stuck like two corks in the same bottle. She glared at me.
"Sorry," I said. "So sorry. My bad."
But as she pushed forward, I pushed forward, too, ensuring she couldn't go through.
"Sorry," I said again as other students stopped to watch the fun.
Then Blossom, who had already gone through, reached up and released the bolt holding the other door closed. It flew open with a ping. Bonita and I sprang forward, sprawling on the hallway floor, schoolbags flying. A huge cheer rose from the students who'd had their Tuesday morning brightened enormously. Bonita got to her feet first and glared at me.
"Seriously?" Bonita snapped. "This is the thing you choose to get competitive about? Going through a door? Why don't you push this hard on the field hockey pitch?"
"I don't care about field hockey," I replied. "But doors are important to me."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Girls Can't Hit"
Copyright © 2018 T. S. Easton.
Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
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.
Table of Contents
Part One: The Contender,
We Happy Few,
The Bluebell Road Film Club,
Eye of the Kitten,
A Feminist Issue,
On the Buzzer,
Girls Can't Hit,
Part Two: On the Ropes,
Fleur "Broken" Waters,
Girls' Day Out,
Here Come the Girls,
Jar Jar Binks,
Fish and Bicycles,
They Say It's Your Birthday,
One of the Boys,
Part Three: Down for the Count,
Float like a Butterfly. Sting like a Butterfly,
Hold the Front Page,
School (and Jerky),
Give Me Angry,
1066 and All That,
Down for the Count,
Start Spreading the News,
Need for Speed,
This Is a Disaster!,
Show Me the jerky,
The Big Fight,
Eleven Beers. One Coke, Full Fat.,
About the Author,