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Shadow Boxer

Shadow Boxer

4.5 2
by Chris Lynch

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I was nine years old the first time I hit my father and made him bleed. He was proud.

It's now five years after his father's death, and fourteen-year-old George is the man of the family. He knows all too well how brutal the life of a fighter can be. Didn't it kill his father?

But Monty, George's younger brother, has a completely different attitude. Boxing


I was nine years old the first time I hit my father and made him bleed. He was proud.

It's now five years after his father's death, and fourteen-year-old George is the man of the family. He knows all too well how brutal the life of a fighter can be. Didn't it kill his father?

But Monty, George's younger brother, has a completely different attitude. Boxing comes naturally to him. It's in his blood. He thinks of it as his father's legacy.

Unless George figures out a way to stop it, will boxing kill Monty, too?

Author Biography: Chris Lynch is the author of several highly acclaimed books for young adults, including Iceman, Shadow Boxer, and Slot Machne, all ALA Best Books for Young Adults and ALA Recommended Books for Young Readers, as well as Extreme Elvin.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 7 UpGeorge, 14, struggles with the increasingly difficult responsibility of guiding and protecting his younger brother, who wants only to live his own life. A realistic inner-city setting, gripping situations, and courageous characters. (Sept. 1993)
Gary Young
This is a guy's book. It is also a tidy study of sibling rivalry. The shadow of their deceased father, a boxer, provides a background for 14-year-old George and his younger, hyperactive brother, Monty. They move through an adult world together--though apart spiritually--and their bond is tenuous until the novel's conclusion. Though he tends a bit toward a Huck Finn evaluation of character types, referring to "The Head," "The Willies," "Baby Nat," narrator George is remarkably mature for a 14-year-old; Monty personifies the troubled kid, whose attempts at recognition discomfort others. The shadow of the father is finally dispelled by his friend and trainer, the quietly heroic Archie, but is only laid to rest by the final conflict between the sons. The final round of the novel produces two champions, as the brothers put the past in perspective. The last sentence represents the artistry in Lynch's lines: "We left the gloves there on the ground, where they could rot in the coming rain."

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


Easter Sunday afternoon Monty was lying on the couch in front of the TV. He was sleeping in front of one of those Jesus movies with a thousand different actors in it that he always sleeps through on a Sunday afternoon. First, he eats his weight at dinner, which isn't all that much, then he sacks out for a couple of hours. I sat next to him, by his feet, since he didn't take up more than half the length of the sofa, and Ma was in the kitchen doing the dishes. I got up to put my suit coat on.

"Where do you go, George?" Monty surprised me, opening his eyes a crack.

"No place. Go back to sleep."

He propped himself up on one elbow. "Every holiday, you put on your suit coat and sneak away, like if we have a Friday or a Monday off from school, George has to go someplace on Sunday to pay for it."

"I don't sneak. I just walk right out the door, and everybody who's awake knows about it."

"So where do you go?"


"Is it any fun -- out?"

"Everything doesn't have to be for fun, Monty."

"Then it's not fun, right? It couldn't be fun if you gotta wear a jacket for it. So why do you go?"

"Watch your movie, or go back to your nap."

"Can I come with you?"

I made a sucking-lemons face. "No."

He sat up, like he was going to come anyway. "Why not?" he said.

"Because you're a kid."

"I am not a kid."

"Monty, you're eleven years old, and you still take naps. That's about eight years later than when I stopped."

"George." Monty looked and sounded like I'd hurt his feelings. "You know that the doctor said I'm hyperactive, and that bythe end of the week I get run-down."

"That's right, I did know that. I'm sorry. So, take the rest of your nappy now so you don't get too run-down."

Monty stood up and put his jacket on. He walked over and stood beside me, his head coming just above my shoulder. I stared down at him. He didn't move.

"Listen, if you just follow me saying stupid things, and spoil my day, I'm sending you home. And change that jacket -- put on your good one."

Monty put on his blue blazer with the gold buttons. We went up to Ma, at the kitchen sink. "I'm going out, Ma," I said. She looked around me at grinning Monty. "He's coming with me," I said without a lot of enthusiasm.

She raised her eyebrows, smiled, almost laughed, nodded, and kissed us both. "Have a fine time, men," she said.

When we got downstairs, Monty asked, "How do you do that? All I have to do is go into the bathroom, and Ma says 'Where are you going, Monty?' 'What are you doing, Monty?' "

"Me and Ma understand each other. She trusts me. She pretty much knows all the time what I'm doing, and it's okay with her. But here's a tip: If you go out of the house in a suit coat, she cuts you a little more slack since you're probably not going to be jumping off roofs or hangin' with your boys down on the corner."

Monty waved his finger at me like "Hey, there's news you can use," as if my story were a trick story. That's why I have to be careful about what information I give him. "But I don't care if you go out in a tuxedo," I reminded him. "I'll want to know where your little butt is going." He sighed.

We waited for the bus in the bright sun, in our navy-blue jackets, light-blue pants, white shirts with white ties. It wasn't very hot out, but it started to seem it. The bus pulled up close to us on the curb, making it even hotter.

Monty put his hand on my arm as I was about to sit. "Remember, George, I get bus sick when I have my suit on," he said. I looked up at the ceiling as he climbed into the double bench first, to get the window seat. It was only a ten-minute ride anyway, out of our neighborhood, past the brick apartment houses, the few playgrounds, the cars on either side of the street jacked up with somebody underneath, or abandoned. A few corner stores with kids hanging out in front. It was the later, lazy part of Easter Sunday, and we only saw a few bonnets, baskets, families walking together butlooking hotter and less happy than they had at church in the morning. The guys selling droopy flowers out of station wagons were pretty much out of business.

The bus pulled into a section of town where real flower shops seemed to be everywhere. There weren't a lot of houses around, but a lot of open space, a batch of four or five cemeteries. A big, wide intersection on a parkway, four corners, four florists.

"This is it," I told Monty as I stood up.

"This? This is where we're going? There's nothing here, George." I pointed at Mount Calvary Cemetery while he followed me down the stairs of the bus. "You sure know how to have fun, man," he said.

We crossed the street and walked in through the big front gate, past the square cement office. "They have maps in there," I said. "You can find anybody you want. They have a kind of celebrity tour. Some guys from the Revolution and the Civil War are over in section C. Ray Bolger, the guy who was the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, is up on that hill there in D. Eugene O'Neill is in B."

Meet the Author

Chris Lynch is the Printz Honor Award–winning author of several highly acclaimed young adult novels, including Printz Honor Book Freewill, Iceman, Gypsy Davy, and Shadow Boxer—all ALA Best Books for Young Adults—as well as Killing Time in Crystal City, Little Blue Lies, Pieces, Kill Switch, Angry Young Man, and Inexcusable, which was a National Book Award finalist and the recipient of six starred reviews. He holds an MA from the writing program at Emerson College. He teaches in the Creative Writing MFA program at Lesley University. He lives in Boston and in Scotland.

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Shadow Boxer 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Pleasantdale More than 1 year ago
This book is about a dad teaching his kid how to box. The kid wants to become a boxer, but his older brother thinks it is dangerous, and tries to stop him. This is a book for guys who like boxing. There are some sad parts in this book. B.B.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The story Shadow Boxer is thought-provoking and very well writen. The realationship between George and Monty is compliated, because of George's feeling of needing to be his brother's 'caretaker'. It's a great read.