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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 ar 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)


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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 ar 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)

30 review for Fights: One Boy's Triumph Over Violence

  1. 5 out of 5

    Erica

    In this graphic memoir, Joel Gill's childhood was defined mostly by struggle. He had some options - acquiesce, get beaten down, or fight. He tried them all, none of them worked for him, so he did his own thing. The narrative in this one gets jumbled at times, there were several scenes I had to re-read to get the story straight. Also, the art isn't my thing, though the colors are great. Still, I really liked this story. I appreciated the true-to-life feel of growing up in the 80's and 90's and I In this graphic memoir, Joel Gill's childhood was defined mostly by struggle. He had some options - acquiesce, get beaten down, or fight. He tried them all, none of them worked for him, so he did his own thing. The narrative in this one gets jumbled at times, there were several scenes I had to re-read to get the story straight. Also, the art isn't my thing, though the colors are great. Still, I really liked this story. I appreciated the true-to-life feel of growing up in the 80's and 90's and I am so grateful there are photographs included in the back because my nosy ass was all, "You were pretty, huh? Let's see if that was true." (It was true)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    Joel Christian Gill's childhood was rough, violent, and downright depressing. Unfortunately, I just never really connected with the story, perhaps because the cartoonish art seemed to clash so much with the heavy subject matter. Nothing in the front of the book moved me as much as the few pages of family snapshots included in the back. It is heartening that regardless of what he endured in the past, Gill has a beautiful family today. I wish him and them much happiness.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Carol Tilley

    Not an easy book to read, but an important one. Make time for Joel's story.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chris Blocker

    Joel Christian Gill's Fights gravitates toward a cartoonish style, but it's done with some skill. There are lots of nice illustrative details throughout and the colors really pop. I absolutely love the idea for this story, and at times I was very much pulled in, but the overall arch felt very disjointed. Some events in the story happen without explanation (ie, what happened to Mr. Charles?), and the pivotal moments in the protagonist's journey to overcome violence didn't carry the weight I'd hope Joel Christian Gill's Fights gravitates toward a cartoonish style, but it's done with some skill. There are lots of nice illustrative details throughout and the colors really pop. I absolutely love the idea for this story, and at times I was very much pulled in, but the overall arch felt very disjointed. Some events in the story happen without explanation (ie, what happened to Mr. Charles?), and the pivotal moments in the protagonist's journey to overcome violence didn't carry the weight I'd hoped for. It felt like the author had more he wanted to express, but perhaps wasn't able or allowed to channel.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alicia (PrettyBrownEyeReader)

    Fights is an autobiographical graphic novel that tells the story of Joel Christian Gill. The wording of this story is easy to follow and engaging. The illustrations are gorgeous and realistic. As the title suggests the recurring theme of the graphic novel is fighting. Each phase of the author’s life has some type of fight involved. I was gifted this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    A heavy book. It fills the need for more black autobio and memoir graphic novels. It's very heavy about the fights and abuse (sexual, physical, and emotional) the author suffered. I have quibbles and problems with the artistic choices, like we never see his mother's face. I also initially had trouble placing where and when of his life until his father's death. This is very much his life, but right now I'm not in the mind to read about more black trauma.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Noe

    "Children are the most perfect sponge; every drop greedily soaked up."

  8. 4 out of 5

    Destiny Henderson

    Well, it is real and rough. I liked the continual symbolism of fire throughout the story. On two occasions, the female characters are given such over-exaggerated features that it’s weird and almost ugly. I only point it out because they were such an awkward change from the usual, cute dot-eyed style. Anyway, the story is not pretty, but the author acknowledges his growth like his relationship with women, so that is good. I am not trying to applaud the bare minimum, but it’s always good when we ca Well, it is real and rough. I liked the continual symbolism of fire throughout the story. On two occasions, the female characters are given such over-exaggerated features that it’s weird and almost ugly. I only point it out because they were such an awkward change from the usual, cute dot-eyed style. Anyway, the story is not pretty, but the author acknowledges his growth like his relationship with women, so that is good. I am not trying to applaud the bare minimum, but it’s always good when we can be self-reflective. From seeing his childhood experiences, it is easy to make connections to why he felt he had to fight to just survive. It is hard to rate autobiographies/biographies, but this one did a great job of coming full-circle. The story is definitely violent with harsh language and the n-word felt overused to me, but real life cannot be censored. Still, a solid read for older readers. 3.5

  9. 4 out of 5

    Heide

    "The Next Great Graphic Novel you will read". Joel Christian Gill's memoir is beautiful, poetic and moving, as well as a fun, fast-paced read about challenging topics. Gill recounts his youth growing up in poverty, abuse and the challenges of an adolescence where youthful mistakes could lead directly to the drug economy, gun violence and the loss of promising futures. I found this memoir uniquely combined intimate confession and the joyfulness of young boys and teenagers as they figured out how "The Next Great Graphic Novel you will read". Joel Christian Gill's memoir is beautiful, poetic and moving, as well as a fun, fast-paced read about challenging topics. Gill recounts his youth growing up in poverty, abuse and the challenges of an adolescence where youthful mistakes could lead directly to the drug economy, gun violence and the loss of promising futures. I found this memoir uniquely combined intimate confession and the joyfulness of young boys and teenagers as they figured out how to navigate life, including the sins of their fathers and mothers, extended families, schools, neighborhoods, and communities. While this story will undoubtedly prove doubly important and meaningful for YA kids of Color, and kids growing up poor, I disagree with at previous reviewer who seemed to think this was a story which required the reader to identify with a particular demographic. As a middle-aged white lady, I just found this book a page-turner: the art was beautiful, and well designed with stunning color, and the action was compelling. As the title connotes, the author organizes the book around the types and kinds of 'fights' that he had as a kid. This is a clever, visual literary device which interpolates the audience into this same calculation. How many fights and what kind of fights do you remember from your childhood? The answer to this question tells each of us quite a lot about where we fall on the continuum of social and economic privilege.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    As the author states: a memoir is not a biography and recollections are not reports. Very true. So the stuff in this very personal account of growing up, is not necessarily how the events occurred, but is painfully and awkwardly true. There are sequences that had me laughing out loud and others that had me almost in tears. This is not a simple read. The deceptively simple art style hides a tale with rich characters and complex emotional situations that could even be triggering for some readers. As the author states: a memoir is not a biography and recollections are not reports. Very true. So the stuff in this very personal account of growing up, is not necessarily how the events occurred, but is painfully and awkwardly true. There are sequences that had me laughing out loud and others that had me almost in tears. This is not a simple read. The deceptively simple art style hides a tale with rich characters and complex emotional situations that could even be triggering for some readers. This is a wonderful, poignant and touching account of one boy’s struggle to find both himself and a way to grow up when almost everyone around him apparently seems to just wish he wasn’t there.

  11. 4 out of 5

    vanessa

    It’s hard to be a child. Gill’s graphic memoir touches on the violence he experienced and witnessed growing up: from so-called friends, from bullies, and from adult authority figures. This is one of those books that makes you realize not every child in this world gets to be a child. Also, I loved the pictures he included at the end.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    Fights are physical, emotional, and psychological in this emotionally visceral coming-of-age memoir exploring such issues as bullying, masculinity, family, friendship, race and racism, and violence with raw honesty and humor.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Watts

    One of the best graphic novels I read this year! Joel experienced so much pain and trauma in his life, but he learned to rise above all the “fighting.” He beat the life he had at such an early age; I am truly inspired by him and happy that he and his wife raised beautiful children, who do not have to endure the problems he once had to.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    Why do I not see this plastered everywhere? Is this a sleeper hit that only small groups of librarians are talking about? I can’t fathom it because this is STRONG. I actually didn’t realize this was a graphic memoir and was surprised and excited by the content. Plus, I already knew Gill’s work, so in a way, I felt like I knew a little bit about him. But this is full of voice, slice of life, but reflection. Though several items presented in the book are not resolved to my satisfaction, it’s a nitp Why do I not see this plastered everywhere? Is this a sleeper hit that only small groups of librarians are talking about? I can’t fathom it because this is STRONG. I actually didn’t realize this was a graphic memoir and was surprised and excited by the content. Plus, I already knew Gill’s work, so in a way, I felt like I knew a little bit about him. But this is full of voice, slice of life, but reflection. Though several items presented in the book are not resolved to my satisfaction, it’s a nitpick for an story that resonates with anyone- it could be the color of your skin, the outcast, friendship or relationship issues, abuse, transiency, and self-defense. It arcs over his entire life which is pleasant, almost necessary to provide a period at the end of the memoir but also that it provides hopefulness. I would also need to address the awesome graphic style that is all his own but still mainstream and easy to view.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Evan

    "Children are the most perfect sponge; every drop greedily soaked up." Fights is a very good graphic novel about an absurdly traumatic childhood. It's a wonder the Gill emerged from this childhood at all, let alone become a functioning adult and a loving father: even in the timeline of the memoir, which covers his adolescent and teenage years, he loses multiple friends and relatives to disease, drugs, or violence, seemingly at a rate of one per chapter. As written, Gill finds just enough flotsam t "Children are the most perfect sponge; every drop greedily soaked up." Fights is a very good graphic novel about an absurdly traumatic childhood. It's a wonder the Gill emerged from this childhood at all, let alone become a functioning adult and a loving father: even in the timeline of the memoir, which covers his adolescent and teenage years, he loses multiple friends and relatives to disease, drugs, or violence, seemingly at a rate of one per chapter. As written, Gill finds just enough flotsam to hang on to in order to stay afloat in a rather terrible sea. He faces neglect from his parents, abuse (of all kinds) from his family, and daily threats from classmates. He finds sanctuary with an odd aunt who spends time sketching with him (or perhaps as importantly, just spends time with him, not threatening or abusing him), and in the library. There are a lot of nits I could pick here. Fights is not really about fights, unless you consider that everything Gill did in childhood was basically a fight of some kind. The settings aren't clear, but we should also consider that that was Gill's stated intent: it's a memoir, a visitation of his memories, not a factual retelling of events. Here, Gill's fractured childhood and struggle for survival are communicated as clearly as documentary footage, or perhaps more so. This was a great memoir, one I read twice, cover to cover, and will think about for a long time.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nick DeWolf

    I gave this book to my kids. I'm not necessarily saying you should do the same, but I chose to. And, in all honesty, some people may think me a bad person for doing so. Joel Christian Gill's graphic novel is a harsh, stunning, guttural, cutting, painful tale. It depicts so many things parents in the middle and middle upper class feel they should shield their kids from: sex, violence, racism, hate, sexual assault. But because it's how the author handles these issues that I believe it's important I gave this book to my kids. I'm not necessarily saying you should do the same, but I chose to. And, in all honesty, some people may think me a bad person for doing so. Joel Christian Gill's graphic novel is a harsh, stunning, guttural, cutting, painful tale. It depicts so many things parents in the middle and middle upper class feel they should shield their kids from: sex, violence, racism, hate, sexual assault. But because it's how the author handles these issues that I believe it's important for people living without them to see, both adults and children. Gill presents a somewhat memoir-ish recounting of an incredibly difficult life. He's made it clear in the forward that not everything depicted is exact. He's exploring things that happened to him that have stuck with him, and may have grown and morphed and changed over time. But make no mistake, this is a writer, an artist, who has faced many demons. He presents these things in a way which is amazing, through the eyes of a child. And not just a child, but a growing, budding mind who takes in information in a variety of ways - sometimes cognitive, sometimes emotional, sometimes through physical memory, and sometimes all three. He does not shy away from the things that so many children are exposed to, and he shows them how these kids may see them. Sights and sounds which only make sense once you're older. There is a moment when he shows the main character sitting in the backseat of a car. His father is up front. There are strange slurping noises. A woman rises from his father's lap. You know what just happened. I know what just happened. But the child, the character, doesn't think on it, doesn't comment on it. He simply exists within that moment, as so many children do in our world. And if that frustrates you as a reader, makes you feel uncomfortable, then Gill has done his job well. Because this book starts with Gill as an adult. He encounters his teenage son, who has grown up with a better life than Gill had, and there is a moment when Gill wonders if his son is prepared for how dark, how difficult, how dangerous, how bleak the world can be. Then, he takes us along his own journey, one which is heartbreaking. He opens up, in a way most authors are not able to do. He cuts into himself. No. He cuts into wounds which have long ago scabbed and scarred, brings their old, congealed blood to the surface, and lets them bleed again, all for the benefit o the reader. Know this - if you read his tale and don't find yourself affected, if you purposefully distance your emotional state because what Gill is showing you is 'too much', you are doing him a disservice. He is sharing his pain with you. He is sharing his pain with his children. He is putting himself through the hell which was his life so that others can see it and try to do better with their own lives. My hope is that creating this graphic novel was cathartic for him. I want to believe it helped him put to rest at least a few of those demons, to take off scabs and let new flesh grow in their place. I know it was an incredible tool for my own education. It's a life I haven't lived but one that I will think on regularly. It is a reminder that our exteriors are not maps of what our interior lives have been. Beneath our skin there can be so much pain and anger, and if there isn't, it's important to know that others can have this. Gill's book is a wonderful thing for kids who have grown up well, because it allows them a window into a life they haven't had, but their friends may have, or their partners, or anyone else they encounter as they age. It is a teaching tool, so should you show it to your kids, be prepared to talk about it. They will ask you questions you may be uncomfortable answering. But that's a good thing. Because growth is hard, and it can hurt. Gill already went through that pain, so maybe now, you won't have to.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    3.5 I agree with the criticisms I see in other reviews: the art style doesn't 100% match the content and the chronology is unclear and confusing. I am fine with cartoon-y art, no matter the content, but I was thrown on a few pages where Gill went with a full-on caricature style with its super exaggerated characteristics. That definitely seemed like an odd choice. And then, yeah, there were a number of time jumps that went unstated and left me feeling unmoored. "Oh, you're out of high school now? 3.5 I agree with the criticisms I see in other reviews: the art style doesn't 100% match the content and the chronology is unclear and confusing. I am fine with cartoon-y art, no matter the content, but I was thrown on a few pages where Gill went with a full-on caricature style with its super exaggerated characteristics. That definitely seemed like an odd choice. And then, yeah, there were a number of time jumps that went unstated and left me feeling unmoored. "Oh, you're out of high school now? When did that happen?" etc The last criticism I have, and is related to the narrative confusion, is that I'm not sure Gill gave us what he promised in the subtitle: a triumph over violence. Most of the book is about how his world inflicted violence on him (physical, sexual, emotional) and demanded violence in response. He does develop strategies over time for not flaming up (to use his metaphor) in response, not engaging in violence nearly as often as when he was a young boy. But he is still threatened with violence into his teenage years, and what actually gets him out of this cycle is that he falls in love, gets married at 18, and (apparently) stops seeing any of his old friends. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy for him and his family, but something about that wrap up doesn't feel like that subtitle. I think some more narrative structures - a clearer chronology and a little more reflection - would have solved both of those criticisms. That said, this is an important story about how deeply violence affects children, and I really appreciate Gill for sharing his traumas with us. In an afterword, he talks about wanting to tell this story for children who might be in similar circumstances, as well as adults who might not understand why a child is reacting with anger and violence. Therefore, I recommend this one to anybody who won't be triggered by the subject matter.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bre

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. "Fights" is a heavy but very real read, and I appreciate that Gill didn’t sugarcoat his story. It reads as authentic and honest all the way through with his reflections on how he internalized his experiences from a young age and how he in turn externalized his pain in both healthy and unhealthy ways as he got older. The earlier chapters show how he perceived his experiences with loss, violence and hate through a child’s lens, and this perspective evolves over time. As a child, he describes child "Fights" is a heavy but very real read, and I appreciate that Gill didn’t sugarcoat his story. It reads as authentic and honest all the way through with his reflections on how he internalized his experiences from a young age and how he in turn externalized his pain in both healthy and unhealthy ways as he got older. The earlier chapters show how he perceived his experiences with loss, violence and hate through a child’s lens, and this perspective evolves over time. As a child, he describes children as sponges that soak up hurt, violence and indifference from around them, and when the sponge is full, these things spill out. He applied this analogy to his own actions and the observed actions of those around him who committed violence to him or others. With a title like “Fights” there is plenty of physical fighting, but we also see the social and internal strife that Gill grapples with in his familial relationships, his friendships and with himself. His use of a picture when white people in the story use racial slurs is creative and conveys an element of his interactions with white people in the South in the late 70’s/early 80’s. He also uses flames and fire imagery to indicate anger and heightened emotional states which signifies choice points for Joel when he is hurt or provoked. This book is not written for the white gaze or comfort of white audiences; Gill’s story stands on its own to portray his relationship to fighting and how he worked to understand it and break the cycle of fighting in his own life. This certainly wasn’t an “easy” read, and I don’t think that it’s meant to be. However, it’s a valuable and typically untold or misrepresented story. Especially for younger audiences, this would need a content warning for sexual abuse.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    This memoir is heartbreaking and raw, and not for those who want an innocent, sheltered, gentle story of childhood. Gill’s growing up is drowning in violence and trauma, for for him and his friends and family. Fights, molestations, domestic violence, guns and drug dealers, poverty, systemic racism and microaggressions from teachers and classmates, numerous moves, death and grieving, and more cry out from each page. The language used throughout is realistic and necessary to set the tone and be fa This memoir is heartbreaking and raw, and not for those who want an innocent, sheltered, gentle story of childhood. Gill’s growing up is drowning in violence and trauma, for for him and his friends and family. Fights, molestations, domestic violence, guns and drug dealers, poverty, systemic racism and microaggressions from teachers and classmates, numerous moves, death and grieving, and more cry out from each page. The language used throughout is realistic and necessary to set the tone and be faithful to the setting and characters, but some will find the nonstop cursing not their cup of tea. Young readers, like teens and tweens, will find a lot here that speaks to their experiences, either as mirrors or windows. The pain of such a childhood transcends race and class and will resonate deeply with some. However, the narrative doesn’t land as strongly as other similar works (Hey, Kiddo, for example), as the chapters tell experience after experience without connecting them with larger thematic elements, and the end, where Gill leaves the violence of his childhood behind and reflects on his success in raising in his children without those experiences, feels sudden and doesn’t logically follow the rest of the story. It really happened this way, minus the changes noted in the author’s note, but as a piece of storytelling, it’s more a series of vignettes rather than a cohesive story. Still, lots to recommend here.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Richard Gray

    “Children are the most perfect sponge: every drop greedily soaked up.” Following in the tradition of autobiographical graphic memoirs like Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home or Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer, Joel Christian Gill present FIGHTS: a raw, frequently funny and often heartbreaking story about growing up Black in America. Although given Gill’s approach, it’s probably more comparable to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ letter to his son, Between the World and Me. Gill doesn’t flinch from revealing aspects of hims “Children are the most perfect sponge: every drop greedily soaked up.” Following in the tradition of autobiographical graphic memoirs like Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home or Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer, Joel Christian Gill present FIGHTS: a raw, frequently funny and often heartbreaking story about growing up Black in America. Although given Gill’s approach, it’s probably more comparable to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ letter to his son, Between the World and Me. Gill doesn’t flinch from revealing aspects of himself that, as he comments in the afterword, he hasn’t always revealed to his nearest and dearest. The simple line art of the characters belies the complexity of what he is illustrating, contrasted against a watercolour background of alternately bright hues (from Shannon Scott) that speak to the hope Gill wants to convey. More than anything, this book is about overcoming the cycle of violence, emerging from the other side of it and ensuring that it isn’t passed on to another generation of impressionable youths.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Wayne McCoy

    'Fights: One Boy's Triumph Over Violence' with story and art by Joel Christian Gill is a graphic memoir about the author. Very graphic. In a moving memoir, the author tells about his childhood. His father was distant, and died when the Joel was quite young. He grew up being abused and beaten by those around him, and had no one to fend for him. He learned to fight back, but he also, eventually, learned how to avoid fights. The story is brutal in nature, but has some moments of humor. This is balan 'Fights: One Boy's Triumph Over Violence' with story and art by Joel Christian Gill is a graphic memoir about the author. Very graphic. In a moving memoir, the author tells about his childhood. His father was distant, and died when the Joel was quite young. He grew up being abused and beaten by those around him, and had no one to fend for him. He learned to fight back, but he also, eventually, learned how to avoid fights. The story is brutal in nature, but has some moments of humor. This is balanced incredibly well. This is a book for a young person in your life that may not see a way out of their circumstances. It is an amazing story of endurance and transformation. I've been fortunate enough to read a few graphic novels that Joel Christian Gill has written. It's safe to say I'm a pretty big fan of what he does. I received a review copy of this graphic novel from Oni Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to review this graphic novel.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    diverse graphic memoir (Black boy growing up in 1980s-1990s South amidst poverty, abuse, bullying, violence, trauma) I recently finished The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, which provides additional information to consider when thinking about the various situations that Joel and his peers find themselves in. The stark differences between the world he grew up in, and the world his children have grown up in, and the world that this reader grew up in are eye-opening. th diverse graphic memoir (Black boy growing up in 1980s-1990s South amidst poverty, abuse, bullying, violence, trauma) I recently finished The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, which provides additional information to consider when thinking about the various situations that Joel and his peers find themselves in. The stark differences between the world he grew up in, and the world his children have grown up in, and the world that this reader grew up in are eye-opening. this is classed as an "adult" book by my library (for language and traumatic violence and sexual situations) but I don't think there's anything in here that older teens haven't already seen.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Somarttam

    I grew up in Detroit during the same time frame as the main character and, now being a father, I find I have so much in common with him, Oddly enough it's my wife who has often suggested that I may need to teach my sons to fight but I have been resistant for many of the same reasons as the main character, I found that this book lays out much clearer than I could articulate to her, the reasons I appreciate that my sons don't have to fight regularly. The book shows the trials and tribulations the I grew up in Detroit during the same time frame as the main character and, now being a father, I find I have so much in common with him, Oddly enough it's my wife who has often suggested that I may need to teach my sons to fight but I have been resistant for many of the same reasons as the main character, I found that this book lays out much clearer than I could articulate to her, the reasons I appreciate that my sons don't have to fight regularly. The book shows the trials and tribulations the main character must go through to get to the point in his life where he doesn't have to fight and you can feel the anger, despair, and desperation at every turn. I may not know the author personally but I know this character and many more like him personally. I feel this is required reading for any father who grew up having to fight and wants better for their children.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Beth Culp

    Wow! This was a powerful read that really gets inside Gill's experiences growing up in a chaotic family and economic situation. What particularly struck me about this book was his commentary about how much he was shaped by his environment and his realization and struggles to distance himself from what he comes to see as a dead-end way of life. I felt myself reliving my own teenage drama, but was also aware of the fact that Gill's situations were completely foreign to me - he's doing his best to Wow! This was a powerful read that really gets inside Gill's experiences growing up in a chaotic family and economic situation. What particularly struck me about this book was his commentary about how much he was shaped by his environment and his realization and struggles to distance himself from what he comes to see as a dead-end way of life. I felt myself reliving my own teenage drama, but was also aware of the fact that Gill's situations were completely foreign to me - he's doing his best to move up and out, yet the system seems to be against him in many ways. The story does have its dark moments, but Gill's work is deeply felt and insightful. The art in particular helps to convey a lot of the emotion and confusion Gill feels as he moves through a world that leaves him adrift until he figures out what will best ground him and save him.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kim Tyo-Dickerson

    Downloaded a pdf review copy of Fights from an archived Oni Press Forging Connections newsletter, and could not stop reading once I began. Riveting, disturbing, and ultimately triumphant, this #ownvoices graphic memoir is interest level grades 10 and up due to the violence and abuse at the heart of the story. I highly recommend librarians sign up for Oni Press' newsletter for "inspiration for linking comics and the classroom, the latest Lion Forge news, as well as updates and ARCs for collection Downloaded a pdf review copy of Fights from an archived Oni Press Forging Connections newsletter, and could not stop reading once I began. Riveting, disturbing, and ultimately triumphant, this #ownvoices graphic memoir is interest level grades 10 and up due to the violence and abuse at the heart of the story. I highly recommend librarians sign up for Oni Press' newsletter for "inspiration for linking comics and the classroom, the latest Lion Forge news, as well as updates and ARCs for collections and original graphic novels from all five of our imprints", because it is one of the best resources I have in my collection development toolkit, I have been introduced to so many great new writers and really appreciate the easily downloadable pdf files for quick reading and reviewing.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dan Clark

    Fights- This was a brutal read as Joel Christian Gill recalls his childhood and the many hardships he faced. It is admirable seeing a person put themselves out there to this degree and allow all their cracks to show. On one side it is admirable that he overcame the impossible On the other side depressing seeing how someone can go through life getting beat down in so many ways by so many people. You kind of just want to hug him to tell him it will be okay but also know that was a bit of a lie. Kno Fights- This was a brutal read as Joel Christian Gill recalls his childhood and the many hardships he faced. It is admirable seeing a person put themselves out there to this degree and allow all their cracks to show. On one side it is admirable that he overcame the impossible On the other side depressing seeing how someone can go through life getting beat down in so many ways by so many people. You kind of just want to hug him to tell him it will be okay but also know that was a bit of a lie. Knowing the framework is this man looking back at his Life compared to the life he gave his kid got me a bit as well. Seeing him embrace his son with determination to keep him safe was as touching or a moment I read this year

  27. 4 out of 5

    Amy Pickett

    It’s not too often that a book makes me say, “This needs to be required reading for every single educator and librarian,” but this one did. The subtitle (“One Boy’s Triumph Over Violence”) clued me in that Fights would be the story of a tough childhood, but I didn’t know much else about the book when I started reading. I connected with Joel’s graphic memoir on a deep, gut level. The child’s perspective, artwork, depictions of loneliness and abuse, period details, damage done by offhand comments It’s not too often that a book makes me say, “This needs to be required reading for every single educator and librarian,” but this one did. The subtitle (“One Boy’s Triumph Over Violence”) clued me in that Fights would be the story of a tough childhood, but I didn’t know much else about the book when I started reading. I connected with Joel’s graphic memoir on a deep, gut level. The child’s perspective, artwork, depictions of loneliness and abuse, period details, damage done by offhand comments from teachers, solace found in the library, and unexpected moments of humor ... all of it adds up to a must-read!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sinistmer

    Overall, I found this to be a solid work; Gill has a knack for showing painful things without necessarily being explicit, and I like that the book is broken up into chapters, a decision that makes a difficult work easier to read. The art and text are easy to follow. There is this sense of being adrift that doesn't completely leave as the work concludes, and, for me, the narrative arc did feel a bit disconnected. This is not the only memoir that I've had this issue with, so it might be me.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    I think this is YA that adults should read so that they better understand kids. And kids should read it so that they better understand trauma and violence that may be around them or their friends. There are some scenes of sexual abuse that are not dealt with in any real way; I would have liked for there to be some material in the back about how to get help- for the abuse or for the violence. Now that I think about how important that is, I’m dropping my review to 3 stars because I think Gill coul I think this is YA that adults should read so that they better understand kids. And kids should read it so that they better understand trauma and violence that may be around them or their friends. There are some scenes of sexual abuse that are not dealt with in any real way; I would have liked for there to be some material in the back about how to get help- for the abuse or for the violence. Now that I think about how important that is, I’m dropping my review to 3 stars because I think Gill could have been more responsible to his readers. Otherwise, a compelling topic.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Frazier

    This was a gripping memoir of the author's upbringing fighting through the abuse from the people he encountered starting in his early childhood. It touched on so many forms of abuse and how he had to fight is way out of it all. It's also about how to break that cycle of abuse from your own people and the people that should care about you and have your back. I also enjoyed the authenticity of each city that this story takes place in and the timely issues that were present.

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