Monday, September 10, 2012

Review: Tap Out by Eric Devine

Tap Out

Goodreads Summary:
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.

Disclosure: Received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Review:
Please don't dismiss this book based on the average Goodreads rating, which is low- 3 stars. Part of me thinks that this is due to the language, sex, and violence that permeates this book. One reviewer even said that he thought that this book may end up getting banned- and I think it very well may. Now, I was a teacher, and banning books like this never ceases to amaze me. Why? Well, I was taking classes for my Master's and one of my classmates was a high school gym teacher and former police officer. He came to class visibly stricken and told us this story...It was the gym period right after lunch. A teenage girl who was visibly pregnant- 6 to 8 months pregnant- came up to him and said she wasn't feeling well. He could smell the alcohol fumes coming off her as she threw up Kool-Aid and vodka on his shoes. Now, if you wrote a novel about how she got to that point, with graphic details, some people would object and maybe even want to ban the book. And it never seems to occur to the people who want to ban books like this that what's really objectionable is the fact that children are really living these lives. Which brings us back to "Tap Out".

Like many, I found this a tough read. Yes, the language, the sex, the violence. But mostly because I taught middle school for years and "Tap Out" seems to tell the continuation of some of my students' stories. It was tough because it was realistic and didn't flinch from telling painful truths about the lives that some/many children lead. It did not flinch from telling the central truth about children who live in poverty- that in most cases all it takes is one mistake, choosing the wrong path once and that's it for their potential. Any hope of a bright future is gone. As the author, Eric Devine, is a high school teacher I feel pretty sure that this was not written to be sensational or exploitative. That Mr. Devine wanted us to be able to have a glimpse into the lives of the "have-nots" and come to at least understanding and compassion for them. Because most of us teachers have come home and cried at least once over one of our students. And the main character, Tony Antioch, is definitely the kind of kid who would have made you cry.

So, do I recommend this book? I do, and I think that this book will appeal to teenage boys. I also think that a parent should read it first and then with their teenager. However, if you have a strong objection to this kind of content, I just want to say that it's not gratuitous sex and violence. That it all has a purpose and is not without consequences. It is a difficult and sometimes painful read, but that just shows that the author did a good job of capturing the life some children lead.

Overall Rating: 3 1/2 stars
Genre Rating: 4 high school lockers

Eric Devine's Website
Tap Out


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  2. It's sad that so many rate a book based on profanity, etc. I think keeping books real is important. Even if it's hard to read. I don't think I've heard of this, but it certainly sounds like a powerful read!

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