Cover image for Fights : One Boy's Triumph over Violence
Fights : One Boy's Triumph over Violence
Physical Description:
246 p. ;

On Order

R.H. Stafford Library (Woodbury)1On Order
Hardwood Creek Library (Forest Lake)1On Order
Park Grove Library (Cottage Grove)1On Order



Fights is the visceral and deeply affecting memoir of artist/author Joel Christian Gill, chronicling his youth and coming of age as a Black child in a chaotic landscape of rough city streets and foreboding backwoods.

Propelled into a world filled with uncertainty and desperation, young Joel is pushed toward using violence to solve his problems by everything and everyone around him. But fighting doesn't always yield the best results for a confused and sensitive kid who yearns for a better, more fulfilling life than the one he was born into, as Joel learns in a series of brutal conflicts that eventually lead him to question everything he has learned about what it truly means to fight for one's life.

"FIGHTS is somehow brutally raw, funny as hell, deeply sensitive and insightful in each panel." -- Nate Powell ( March trilogy)

Reviews 2

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up--Gill, who has created many graphic novels devoted to black history, turns the focus on himself in his powerful graphic memoir. As a child, he endured physical and sexual abuse and neglect. School provided no refuge; he was bullied by other children and mistreated by teachers. Eventually Gill became like those around him, a perpetrator of violence, responding to frustration by lashing out at others. He was kept afloat by a few key friendships, the library, and art. At 18, he made a surprising but ultimately lifesaving decision. With saturated colors and expressive characters, Gill's dramatic illustrations pull readers in. The scenes depicting his mistreatment are subtle, infuriating, and devastating. His inclusion of photographs makes his story even more intimate. His language is as evocative as the visuals. He compares children to sponges, absorbing the abuse they're subjected to and eventually inflicting it on others. VERDICT Despite the heartbreak, Gill leaves readers with a message of hope--that anyone living with trauma can find a way out.--Carla Riemer, Albany High School, CA

Publisher's Weekly Review

An impoverished and violent childhood provides the background to this stirring memoir from Gill (Strange Fruit)--but it's the kindness and strength that he found in those circumstances that makes his story unforgettable. During his fragmented youth, Gill was shuffled through schools, homes, and social cliques as the child of a single mother. Though he found solace where he could (memorably in chess, music, and libraries), the disorder of his life inculcated a violent streak that wore him down as much as it kept him safe from predators. He endures sexual abuse at home, bullying in school, and is ultimately pushed into young manhood with only the barest understanding of human kindness--and yet he manages to discover the joy of art, the tenderness of first love, and ironclad friendship. In the tradition of Geoffrey Canada's Fist Stick Knife Gun, Gill's empathy for his younger self and the children he grew up alongside elevates his singular story into a passionate plea for neglected children everywhere. Gill draws himself and the kids around him as struggling against a rising tide of murky water: some of them learn to swim in this sea of aggression, while some are lost within its depths. His visuals are disarmingly whimsical (they'd be at home on Nickelodeon), with a palette unafraid of bright greens, purples, and oranges that emphasizes his youthful self's vulnerability and capacity for joy. Beyond a recounting of a hardscrabble upbringing, Gill's memoir becomes an ode to claiming peace from the experience of violence--and passing that gift on to others. (Jan.)