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Caged Warrior
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Caged Warrior
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A ferocious novel, Caged Warrior is like a great fight movie, a tour-de-force of relentless conflict, but one that is leavened with rich characters and meaningful and loving relationships. McCutcheon...
A ferocious novel, Caged Warrior is like a great fight movie, a tour-de-force of relentless conflict, but one that is leavened with rich characters and meaningful and loving relationships. McCutcheon...
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Description-

  • A ferocious novel, Caged Warrior is like a great fight movie, a tour-de-force of relentless conflict, but one that is leavened with rich characters and meaningful and loving relationships.
    McCutcheon Daniels' life is full of bone-cracking violence. As a star fighter in the gritty underground Mixed Martial Arts circuit in the poorest section of Detroit, McCutcheon fights under the tutelage of his volatile and violent father, not so much for himself but to survive as protector of his beloved five-year old sister, Gemma.
    As McCutcheon battles opponents who are literally trying to kill him, he struggles to find a way to protect her and himself. Along the way, he decides to trust a teacher who has taken an interest in him and begins to redirect the path his life is taking. Until he discovers the truth about his mother who seemingly disappeared on his thirteenth birthday.

About the Author-

  • Alan Lawrence Sitomer is a nationally renowned speaker and was California's Teacher of the Year in 2007. He is also the author of multiple works for young readers, including Daddies Do It Different, Nerd Girls, the Hoopster trilogy, Cinder-Smella, and The Alan Sitomer BookJam. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 28, 2014
    Continuing to take on the challenge of reaching reluctant readers, Sitomer (The Downside of Being Up) creates a window into the brutal world of underground Mixed Martial Arts cage fighting in a rough Detroit neighborhood. Fifteen-year-old McCutcheon "Bam Bam" Daniels, a self-proclaimed "street mutt," has been a part of the cage-fighting world for years but has recently begun to question whether he has the "killa instinct" and to consider the long-term physical effects of the sport. McCutcheon fights for prize money to pay his father's debts to the Priests, a lethal local gang, and to take care of his five-year-old sister, Gemma. When McCutcheon's science teacher shows an interest in his future, suggesting that he attend charter school, a path out of cage fighting begins to materialize. Detailed fight scenes are unsettling but not gratuitous, while raw depictions of McCutcheon's poverty will have readers feeling his fear and pain. Sitomer examines the repercussions of unflinching dedication to a violent sport, while acknowledging the difficulties inherent in making a change that requires stepping into the unknown. Ages 10–14. Agent: Al Zuckerman, Writers House.

  • Kirkus

    April 1, 2014
    McCutcheon "M.D." Daniels has one dream: to get out of poverty-stricken Detroit. His golden ticket? The violent, underground sport of mixed martial arts. M.D.'s alcoholic, has-been father coaches him to win fights and impress the Priests, gangsters that run all the MMA action in the city. His younger sister, Gem, is the one ray of sunshine in a world Sitomer paints as ruthless and needlessly cruel. The hope for a better life juxtaposes sharply with reality; it's constantly on the verge of bursting, an idea the author presents with great aplomb. M.D.'s gritty, vernacular narration goes beyond typical teen angst and captures the true spirit of the lowest class, a downtrodden world long left behind by the rest of American culture. When the teen begins to notice the damaging, cyclical nature of pessimism, he makes plays that he hopes will remove him from the clutches of his father and the Priests. The reactions to these moves are both explosive and engaging. The book is a brisk read, made all the more appealing by the author's blend of heartfelt sentiment and sensational sports drama. The multiple fight sequences are tightly constructed, and none of the more emotional moments are overwrought. This is swift storytelling, offering little fuss but plenty to chew on. Smart, insightful and brimming with earned optimism. (Fiction. 12-16)

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    April 1, 2014

    Gr 9 Up-In run-down Detroit, 16-year-old McCutcheon Daniels's mother has left, and his druggie, lowlife father is training him to be a champion in a mixed martial arts ring-sometimes dubbed human cock fighting. When McCutcheon describes a fighter who is "carried out of the coop with a pool of blood flowing...one eyeball dangling from an empty, hollow socket attached by a few thin shreds of meaty string," that term fits, and more cringe-worthy scenes abound. The teen is forced to compete in these bloody and dangerous matches for the Mafialike Priests, where life and limb are at risk as his father racks up thousands in gambling dollars. McCutcheon gets a pittance in return that he uses to lovingly care for his five-year-old sister, Gemma, in a shabby apartment. Despite all his challenges, the protagonist is likable and tries to be a good guy, and when his science teacher gets him into a competitive, highly academic charter school, he knows he is at a crossroads. However, his evil father and the Priests refuse to let go of their star. This fast-paced, engrossing, and intense story balances repulsive behavior, profane language, and even child prostitution with gentler moments where McCutcheon cares for Gemma and is attracted to a nice girl out of his league. Several truths are revealed toward the drop-off ending as McCutcheon enters a witness protection program, leaving the option for a sequel. Mature readers of the similarly tough, disturbing, and well-written Tap Out by Eric Devine (Running Pr., 2012) will be drawn to this book as well.-Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, CO

    Copyright 2014 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    May 15, 2014
    Grades 9-12 On the mean streets of Detroit, McCutcheon Danielsaka Bam Bamhas a mean rep in the underground sport of mixed martial arts. Trained by his father, McCutcheon has been preened to be a fighter with killa instinct whose no-holds-barred battles are his family's sole source of income. Out of the cage, this weekend warrior is a tenth-grader and loving brother who does everything he can to keep his little sister safe and provided for. When a teacher takes a special interest in McCutcheon, offering him a future that isn't determined by his fists, he is given a choice for the first time in his life, but it's one that might incur the wrath of his father as well as the men running the fight circuit. Sitomer pulls no punches in this novel where fights and life alike are merciless and characterized by grit, blood, endurance, and smarts. Yet amid the violence, McCutcheon's inner strength shines, guaranteeing readers will back him through the book's harsh twists and turns.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2014, American Library Association.)

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    Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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