Hard-hitting historical fiction
Ever since his father ran off two years before, fifteen-year-old Johnny Woods has struggled to help support his ma and five siblings, sacrificing his own schooling in the process. Still, there's been hardly enough money each month to make the rent, and Johnny's dream of a house in Brooklyn, away from the tenement slums, is out of reach.
Then Johnny discovers boxing. He is a natural-born fighter, with street smarts, determination, and an explosive uppercut. Although boxing is illegal in 1885 New York, Johnny powers his way through every obstacle, believing he has found the means to raise himself and his family out of poverty. But as he moves closer to his biggest fight yet, Johnny must reconcile his need to help his loved ones with a sharpening desire to achieve something outside the ring, starting with his education. In bringing to life Johnny's struggle and ultimate success, Kathleen Karr offers readers a compelling portrait of an appealing young champion.