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Fight Night

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The beloved author of bestsellers Women Talking, A Complicated Kindness, and All My Puny Sorrows returns with a funny, smart, headlong rush of a novel full of wit, flawless writing, and a tribute to perseverance and love in an unusual family.   Fight Night is told in the unforgettable voice of Swiv, a nine-year-old living in Toronto with her pregnant mother, who is raising The beloved author of bestsellers Women Talking, A Complicated Kindness, and All My Puny Sorrows returns with a funny, smart, headlong rush of a novel full of wit, flawless writing, and a tribute to perseverance and love in an unusual family.   Fight Night is told in the unforgettable voice of Swiv, a nine-year-old living in Toronto with her pregnant mother, who is raising Swiv while caring for her own elderly, frail, yet extraordinarily lively mother. When Swiv is expelled from school, Grandma takes on the role of teacher and gives her the task of writing to Swiv's absent father about life in the household during the last trimester of the pregnancy. In turn, Swiv gives Grandma an assignment: to write a letter to "Gord," her unborn grandchild (and Swiv's soon-to-be brother or sister). "You’re a small thing," Grandma writes to Gord, "and you must learn to fight." As Swiv records her thoughts and observations, Fight Night unspools the pain, love, laughter, and above all, will to live a good life across three generations of women in a close-knit family. But it is Swiv’s exasperating, wise and irrepressible Grandma who is at the heart of this novel: someone who knows intimately what it costs to survive in this world, yet has found a way—painfully, joyously, ferociously—to love and fight to the end, on her own terms.


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The beloved author of bestsellers Women Talking, A Complicated Kindness, and All My Puny Sorrows returns with a funny, smart, headlong rush of a novel full of wit, flawless writing, and a tribute to perseverance and love in an unusual family.   Fight Night is told in the unforgettable voice of Swiv, a nine-year-old living in Toronto with her pregnant mother, who is raising The beloved author of bestsellers Women Talking, A Complicated Kindness, and All My Puny Sorrows returns with a funny, smart, headlong rush of a novel full of wit, flawless writing, and a tribute to perseverance and love in an unusual family.   Fight Night is told in the unforgettable voice of Swiv, a nine-year-old living in Toronto with her pregnant mother, who is raising Swiv while caring for her own elderly, frail, yet extraordinarily lively mother. When Swiv is expelled from school, Grandma takes on the role of teacher and gives her the task of writing to Swiv's absent father about life in the household during the last trimester of the pregnancy. In turn, Swiv gives Grandma an assignment: to write a letter to "Gord," her unborn grandchild (and Swiv's soon-to-be brother or sister). "You’re a small thing," Grandma writes to Gord, "and you must learn to fight." As Swiv records her thoughts and observations, Fight Night unspools the pain, love, laughter, and above all, will to live a good life across three generations of women in a close-knit family. But it is Swiv’s exasperating, wise and irrepressible Grandma who is at the heart of this novel: someone who knows intimately what it costs to survive in this world, yet has found a way—painfully, joyously, ferociously—to love and fight to the end, on her own terms.

30 review for Fight Night

  1. 5 out of 5

    Angela M

    3.5 stars rounded up. Eight year old Swiv, precocious and unrealistically mature, has responsibilities and an understanding of things far beyond her years. In spite of my reservation about that, she’s a memorable character as is her loving, quirky grandmother. It’s easy to care about them and root for them along with her depressed, pregnant mother. It’s a touching story that is filled with the love they have for each other. This was a monthly read with Diane and Esil. I received an advanced copy 3.5 stars rounded up. Eight year old Swiv, precocious and unrealistically mature, has responsibilities and an understanding of things far beyond her years. In spite of my reservation about that, she’s a memorable character as is her loving, quirky grandmother. It’s easy to care about them and root for them along with her depressed, pregnant mother. It’s a touching story that is filled with the love they have for each other. This was a monthly read with Diane and Esil. I received an advanced copy of this book from Bloomsbury Publishing through Edelweiss.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Swiv is nine years old, precious and wise beyond her years. She lives with her mother and grandmother in Toronto. Grandma’s health may be fragile—but she’s feisty-lively-and bluntly outspoken. Mom is pregnant, an actress, and doesn’t know where the heck Swiv’s dad ran off to. “Fight Night” had a touch of the same flavor as “My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry”, by Fredrik Backman…. ‘Tad’ similarities. Both books are charming - with heart endearing quirkiness. But “Fight Night” is more Swiv is nine years old, precious and wise beyond her years. She lives with her mother and grandmother in Toronto. Grandma’s health may be fragile—but she’s feisty-lively-and bluntly outspoken. Mom is pregnant, an actress, and doesn’t know where the heck Swiv’s dad ran off to. “Fight Night” had a touch of the same flavor as “My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry”, by Fredrik Backman…. ‘Tad’ similarities. Both books are charming - with heart endearing quirkiness. But “Fight Night” is more bold-has more profanity-with a message: knowing oneself is serious business! Fighting for oneself is serious business. No getting pushed around in this family. I thought it was great -funny as hell - with sentences that kept outdoing themselves page after page. My only quibble is that at times there was ‘so much’ humorous-sarcasm … poking and pushing the envelope—with it’s witty prose — I felt like I needed a breather— in other words - the writing was slightly overkilling a great thing. But…. my goodness Miriam Toews sure could keep the punches rolling. “Alternating between the exuberant, precious voice of young Swiv and her irrepressible tenacious Grandma, Fight Night is a love letter to mothers and grandmothers, and to all women who are still fighting-painfully, ferociously-for a way to live on their own terms”. “Grandma likes to tell Mom we’ve accomplished household tasks every day because Mom is having a complete nervous break down and a geriatric pregnancy which doesn’t mean she’s going to push out an old geezer out of her vag, it means she’s too old to be up the stump and is ‘so exhausted’ and when she comes home from rehearsals she’s all, god, what a mess, god you guys, what a dump, you can’t poor fat down the drain, these pipes are ancient, you can’t overload the toilet with toilet paper, why are there conchigliettes everywhere, can’t you two pick up a dish or put this shit away or have you ever heard of ‘household tasks’? Mom’s ‘domestic’ freak-out is that she always has to put all the food that’s in the fridge at the very outer edges of the racks so that it’s entirely visible to Grandma, otherwise Grandma thinks there’s no food because she can’t see it, and she doesn’t move things around to see the food in the back of the fridge and then she orders take-out or just eats ice cream or bacon or handfuls of cereal from the box. So now Mom lines everything up in a row on the outer edges of the fridge racks with labels like THIS IS LENTIL CHILI! EAT IT! THIS IS KALE SALAD! EAT IT! Grandma doesn’t eat anything green. Not a single thing, ever. “I’m not going to spend my last five minutes on earth eating rabbit food!” “Grandma says Mom has a tiny bit of PTSD still, plus she’s searching. I asked Grandma what Mom’s searching for and she said, Oh, you name it. PTSD and searching don’t end when we are asleep. Mom and Grandma no things about each other that they just have to ‘contend with’ because that’s how it is. They don’t mind. They know each other”. “What happened is we met a friend of Mom’s who is a director. Mom said oh god, don’t look now. Fucking kill me. I looked and saw a tall guy come walking towards us. Mom tried not to embrace him but he bent down to hug ‘her’ so then out of politeness she hugged ‘him’ for under one second and just with one arm barely touching him. She pointed at me and said, this is my daughter, Swiv. I waved. He said Oh! I thought you’d say son. Mom and I looked at him. Pleasure, he said. He nodded at me. Mom asked him how he was and he said he was involved in an epic struggle with his demons. Mom burst out laughing and said really? Wow! He said yes, more and more as I get older I am finding evidence that supports the fact that I am a tragic character. Mom laughed again. The director looked confused. He said, It’s not funny, really, it’s painful. Mom couldn’t stop laughing. Then I started laughing at it too. The director frowned and looked away, down towards the far end of the park towards the offleash pit. Mom said she was sorry. The director said it was fine. He was trying to smile. Finally he left and Mom sat back down on the bench and watched him disappear. When he was far enough away Mom said of my ‘god’, what a douchepetard. She told me he had touched her all over—and she means ‘all’ over—during one rehearsal when he was trying to show her how to ‘simulate love-making’. She said he’s ‘banged every young actress in town and super talks down to everyone’. Mom said we can’t afford therapy anymore even with a sliding scale and even with giving the therapist free tickets to the theater because doucherockets like the tall director aren’t giving her roles anymore because she’s too old and because of Gord and also because he knows she’s got his fucking number. Now she has to addition for fucking tooth-whitening commercials”. “But where’s Dad? I asked her. She said a bunch of things but basically she doesn’t know”. The characters of “Fight Night”…. are champions. They defend, support, and safeguard themselves and their tribe! Thank you Netgalley, Bloomsbury Publishing, and Miriam Toews

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    A quick, fun read, Fight Night is about Swiv, a nine year old child living with her pregnant mother, her unborn sibling Gord, and her grandmother. The grandmother was a total riot, and Swiv's observations made her even funnier. Though not everything is "fun and games!" (as Grandma likes to say), the book is lighthearted and serves as a reminder to live in the moment and enjoy life as much as one can. Grandma's advice: "You can only die once so don’t die a thousand times worrying about it." (Note, A quick, fun read, Fight Night is about Swiv, a nine year old child living with her pregnant mother, her unborn sibling Gord, and her grandmother. The grandmother was a total riot, and Swiv's observations made her even funnier. Though not everything is "fun and games!" (as Grandma likes to say), the book is lighthearted and serves as a reminder to live in the moment and enjoy life as much as one can. Grandma's advice: "You can only die once so don’t die a thousand times worrying about it." (Note, though this has a child narrator, it's not a children's nor YA novel.)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jodi

    Well... that was perfect, and beautiful. Perfect and beautiful. And touching, and funny, and really heartwarming, and again... perfect. I don't know... it's difficult to know what to write as the book is really just kind of a play-by-play of life written by nearly 10-year old Swiv as she and her family go about their days. Mom is a very pregnant stage actress, Dad disappeared recently (off fighting fascists, she's told), and then there's Grandma—the funniest, most loveable character I've ever en Well... that was perfect, and beautiful. Perfect and beautiful. And touching, and funny, and really heartwarming, and again... perfect. I don't know... it's difficult to know what to write as the book is really just kind of a play-by-play of life written by nearly 10-year old Swiv as she and her family go about their days. Mom is a very pregnant stage actress, Dad disappeared recently (off fighting fascists, she's told), and then there's Grandma—the funniest, most loveable character I've ever encountered in a book! She's absolutely delightful, but not in the ordinary sense you'd expect of a Grandma. Oh no! And finally there's Gord—the name given to the baby in Mom's tum—gender unknown. For the first half of the book, the 3.5 of them live at their home in Toronto. About midway through, Grandma decides to take a trip to Fresno to visit two much-loved nephews she hasn't seen in many years. As Grandma's health is now a bit dodgy, Swiv accompanies her to ensure she takes her meds, doesn't overdo things and, generally, to watch over her. So that's the basic outline, but what I can't explain is the humour. This is seriously (oxymoron) one of the funniest books I've ever read (in 65 years!) and it's all thanks to Swiv—wise W-A-Y beyond her years—and Grandma with her extraordinary joie de vie! Every person she meets falls instantly in love with her—taxi drivers, bus patrons, airline attendants! She just has one of those incredible personalities, with a child-like outlook on life that draws people to her like moths to a flame! She's just remarkable. And now we're back where I began. Fight Night... Perfect and beautiful. And touching and funny, and really, really heartwarming. As the end approaches, Toews works her magic with some very special scenes you won't soon forget. (And you'll want to read the 'Acknowledgements' for something kind of sweet.) Read the book. You'll love it too. 💜💛💚🧡💙

  5. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    This was my monthly read with Angela and Esil, and I'm the outlier with my rating. The book is a letter that eight year old Swiv is writing her father. The father who disappeared from their lives. She lives with her grandmother, Elvira, who is a hoot. Nothing gets her down, everything is an adventure, and her mother, who is a stage actress. This is a funny book but after a while I felt the humor was too much, overkill. Also question whether a child as young as this could or should have had the r This was my monthly read with Angela and Esil, and I'm the outlier with my rating. The book is a letter that eight year old Swiv is writing her father. The father who disappeared from their lives. She lives with her grandmother, Elvira, who is a hoot. Nothing gets her down, everything is an adventure, and her mother, who is a stage actress. This is a funny book but after a while I felt the humor was too much, overkill. Also question whether a child as young as this could or should have had the responsibililitybwith which she was charged. Swiv is often stressed, anxious and that's not a normal nor necessary state for a child. She is treated as an adult and at times seemed more grown-up than the grown-ups. There is, however, a great deal of love in this little family as the ending portrays. ARC from Edelweiss

  6. 5 out of 5

    Krista

    To be alive means full body contact with the absurd. Still, we can be happy. Even poor old Sisyphus could figure that much out. And that’s saying something. You might say that God is an absurd concept but faith in God’s goodness. . .I find joy in that. I find it inspiring. Oba! I’m rambling. But I brought up Romeo and Juliet for a reason. What was it. . .yes! My town. . .my hometown, and your Mom’s too. Hooooooooo. And Momo’s, of course. . .it had a similar tragedy, in my opinion. The church. . To be alive means full body contact with the absurd. Still, we can be happy. Even poor old Sisyphus could figure that much out. And that’s saying something. You might say that God is an absurd concept but faith in God’s goodness. . .I find joy in that. I find it inspiring. Oba! I’m rambling. But I brought up Romeo and Juliet for a reason. What was it. . .yes! My town. . .my hometown, and your Mom’s too. Hooooooooo. And Momo’s, of course. . .it had a similar tragedy, in my opinion. The church. . .all those men, all those Willit Brauns. . .prevented us from. . .well no, it was more than that . . .they took something from us. They took it from us. They stole it from us. It was. . .our tragedy! Which is our humanity. We need those things. We need tragedy, which is the need to love and the need. . .not just the need, the imperative, the human imperative. . .to experience joy. To find joy and to create joy. All through the night. The fight night. With Fight Night Miriam Toews returns to familiar themes of surviving (and escaping from) a fundamentalist Mennonite community (even if the M word isn’t specifically used this time), and the suicide of those who can’t find the will to go on. Unlike her earlier novels, however, this one has an absurdist tone, with three female generations of a family living together and exchanging frank and farcical barbs. The main character, nine-year-old Swiv, is constantly exasperated by her mother’s and grandmother’s seemingly unserious approach to life, but as the novel unspools, it’s obvious that this is a family filled with love, fighting to survive and find meaning in this irrational world. The tone is relentlessly comedic, but I was amused throughout and ultimately touched. (Note: I read an ARC through NetGalley and passages quoted may not be in their final forms.) Why is Mom so weird? I asked Grandma. She had fallen asleep. Weird? she said, after a minute. She put on her glasses. Well, let’s see. Is it because of Gord? I asked her. No, no, said Grandma. Well, maybe. Her hormones might be out of whack but that’s not really why she’s weird, as you say. Gord makes her happy! Really? I said. Very happy, said Grandma. As do you. Grandma moved her hand over my hair. It got caught in a massive tangle and she laughed. She called the tangle an elflock. Your mom is fighting on every front, said Grandma. Internally, externally. Eternally, I said. Yes, it would seem so, said Grandma. With your dad being gone and — After being suspended from school (for taking King of the Castle too seriously; she’s a fighter, too), Swiv needs to spend the days with her aged and ailing grandmother while her late-term pregnant mother attends rehearsals for a play she’s starring in. Grandma’s makeshift lessons aren’t exactly school board approved (Math class could be answering the question: If it takes five years to kill a guy with prayer, and it takes six people a day to pray, then how many prayers of pissed off women praying every day for five years does it take to pray a guy to death?), and based on a suggestion from a Family Therapist, Swiv’s main “assignment” (and the conceit of the novel) is to write a letter to her recently runaway father, telling him everything that’s happening in the family’s lives. They have Editorial Meetings (where Swiv assigns letters for her mother and grandmother to write, too), and between all the storytelling about the old country, their experiences in modern day Toronto, and a surprise trip to visit some American cousins, Toews is able to, once again, shine a light on her own Winnipeg Mennonite childhood without ever mentioning either (beyond one reference to the Disraeli Bridge). This does and doesn’t feel like familiar territory from Toews and I was bemused by the following quote (from the pregnant Mom’s letter to her unborn child, “Gord”): I remember reading an interview with a writer once and she said that she was writing against death, that the act of writing, or of storytelling, that every time she wrote a story I mean, she was working through her own death. She didn’t care about impermanence. She didn’t care if anybody read her stories. She just wanted to write them down, to get them out of her. (It’s no coincidence that the grandmother’s first name, Elvira, is the same as Toews’ own mother's, and in the Acknowledgements at the end, Toews thanks her “for teaching me, ceaselessly, when to fight and how to love.”) And again, the main difference between this novel and some of Toews' earlier work is the relentlessly absurdist tone. Swiv, who is just a little girl, often feels like she’s the only adult in her house; rolling her eyes at her mother’s and grandmother’s discussions about sex and other body functions; repeating profanities back to the older women and sighing if they object (“I don’t know why saying bowel movement and stool is better than vag and piehole. It doesn’t matter what words you use in life, it’s not gonna prevent you from suffering.”) The following is a pretty typical scene that captures the overall tone: Mom did these stretching exercises while we walked. She called them lunges. She pushed against buildings and light-posts like she was trying to knock them over. She said she was doing it to strengthen her uterus and her vaginal wall, and because that’s what actors do. Do it with me, Swiv! No! I said. I don’t have all that shit. You don’t have a uterus and a vaginal wall? she asked me. I walked away while she was pushing as hard as she could against the corner of Nova Era bakery because I don’t want to just stand beside her while she does weird things like I’m in support of it. She was almost lying down, and taking up the whole sidewalk, and people had to go all the way around her. I can imagine that this tone (and some of the frank talk and profanity) might be a turnoff to some readers but I think that Toews carries it off. There’s power in recognising the absurdity of life, and often, it’s from that recognition that we find the strength to fight. I'd expect to see this again at award season.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Candie

    I loved this book! It was absolutely hilarious. I can't even remember the last time that I  laughed out loud so much while reading a book!! This is a story about three generations of women living in the same house, but mostly focuses around the grandmother and her granddaughter; their relationship was so sweet. The grandmother was extremely feisty, frank and outspoken and talked to her granddaughter like she was an adult; I loved her character so much. This book was about love and fighting throu I loved this book! It was absolutely hilarious. I can't even remember the last time that I  laughed out loud so much while reading a book!! This is a story about three generations of women living in the same house, but mostly focuses around the grandmother and her granddaughter; their relationship was so sweet. The grandmother was extremely feisty, frank and outspoken and talked to her granddaughter like she was an adult; I loved her character so much. This book was about love and fighting through the hard times that life puts in your path but was a lot more than that. It really focused on the imperfect and in finding the beauty in those moments. It is okay to make mistakes and lose control, or go a little crazy sometimes, you just need to fight to find your way back. Overall, I was left with a strong feeling of love and hope. I would definitely recommend this book and am already planning to read it again. "She would rather join a losing team than win a lonely fight." I was provided a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cheri

    A story narrated by Swiv, a 9-year-old girl, shared through rambling thoughts she shares as she writes to her father. She’s wise in the ways of the world, but has stopped attending school because she has been made to feel like an outsider, a freak not only by other students, but by teachers, as well. As a result, she acts out, and is suspended from school. Swiv’s mother is an actress, who leaves their home in Toronto for periods of time for her work, but Swiv’s grandmother is an almost constant p A story narrated by Swiv, a 9-year-old girl, shared through rambling thoughts she shares as she writes to her father. She’s wise in the ways of the world, but has stopped attending school because she has been made to feel like an outsider, a freak not only by other students, but by teachers, as well. As a result, she acts out, and is suspended from school. Swiv’s mother is an actress, who leaves their home in Toronto for periods of time for her work, but Swiv’s grandmother is an almost constant presence. Swiv hovers over her grandmother, and is responsible for administering her medicine when her heart starts acting up. Swiv seens to be the most responsible person in her family. It isn’t that her grandmother is irresponsible, but she tends to be spontaneous, always looking for fun and adventure, despite her health issues. She looks at life as an adventure to be lived fully, whereas Swiv’s mother, who is pregnant, seems to be perpetually tense. When her grandmother decides it’s been too long since she’s visited her family in Fresno, California, she convinces Swiv to book her a flight, which means that Swiv would be alone while her mother is working. Swiv ends up joining her grandmother on an adventure that seems like it’s destined to fall apart before they even leave the house for the airport, but they arrive safe and sound. There’s a lighthearted, zany sense of joy at times, but this story explores all the emotions, from anger, fear, fighting our inner demons at others. All the natural human emotions, from heartbreak and sorrow to an overflowing of love that, ultimately, is the heart of this story. Published: 05 Oct 2021 Many thanks for the ARC provided by Bloomsbury USA / Bloomsbury Publishing

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sarah-Hope

    Let me open by saying that if I could give Fight Night six stars, I would. In fact, I'd give it seven. I'm a big fan of Mirian Toews' work, and Fight Night is my favorite by far. Fight Night is absolutely, positively, unendingly hysterical (in both the mirthful and the teetering-on-the-brink ways) and is also dead serious. The only other books that have left me guffawing the way this one did are Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicholson series. (If you've read them, you know what I mean; if you haven' Let me open by saying that if I could give Fight Night six stars, I would. In fact, I'd give it seven. I'm a big fan of Mirian Toews' work, and Fight Night is my favorite by far. Fight Night is absolutely, positively, unendingly hysterical (in both the mirthful and the teetering-on-the-brink ways) and is also dead serious. The only other books that have left me guffawing the way this one did are Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicholson series. (If you've read them, you know what I mean; if you haven't read them, get started as soon as possible.) The novel is narrated in the voice of Swiv, a Canadian girl of roughly 10 years' age who has been suspended from school for her propensity to be unreasonably violent when playing King of the Hill. She also worries. A lot. About everything—and is never one to fail to think of a worse-case scenario. Her father is absent. Her mother is an actress in antifa theatre. She's pregnant. She's moody as hell. Swiv spends most of her time home with her grandmother, where they assign each other essays and watch Raptors basketball games, while Swiv endlessly picks up pills and books and hearing aid batteries and whatever else her grandmother drops and can't pick up for herself. Swiv's grandmother is a Russian ex-pat from a strict religious community. She takes great pleasure in talking about bowel movements, being naked, and her life, which seems to have been filled with one outrageous stunt after another—all of which leave Swiv paralyzingly embarrassed. Spending time with this threesome is a crazy romp that pulls at the heart while moving from one moment of comic genius to the next. You should read this book. Please read this book. Seriously. Read it. Buy a full case of copies and give them as presents for every occasion. If there is any justice in the world, Fight Night will be up near the top of the 2021 bestsellers list. I received a free electronic review copy of this title; the opinions are my own.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    Swiv is given the task of writing to her absent father about life in her house by her grandmother, Elvira, who is teaching her after Swiv was expelled from school. Swiv's mother is pregnant and in the later stages of her pregnancy. Three generations living under one roof make for interesting writing for Swiv. She writes in a rambling way which is both entertaining and endearing. Try not to laugh at times or not have a smile on your face during other times. There is heart here, there is also a you Swiv is given the task of writing to her absent father about life in her house by her grandmother, Elvira, who is teaching her after Swiv was expelled from school. Swiv's mother is pregnant and in the later stages of her pregnancy. Three generations living under one roof make for interesting writing for Swiv. She writes in a rambling way which is both entertaining and endearing. Try not to laugh at times or not have a smile on your face during other times. There is heart here, there is also a young girl wise beyond her years, who makes observations and has a close bond with her grandmother. There is a bit of goofy, zany actions which will entertain and have you shaking your head. This is an endearing, quirky, and at times goofy book about family, their antics, their tribulations, and their bond. Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own. Read more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.com

  11. 4 out of 5

    Terry

    I have always really enjoyed books narrated by children. I have also always enjoyed books about people who look difficulties in the face and laugh. This book combines both those things, and this is why I chose to read it. Many thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing and NetGalley for making it available to me to read and review. The story is entirely narrated by Swiv, a 9-year-old Canadian girl who was expelled from school for fighting. She lives with her pregnant mother and her elderly, but spirited gra I have always really enjoyed books narrated by children. I have also always enjoyed books about people who look difficulties in the face and laugh. This book combines both those things, and this is why I chose to read it. Many thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing and NetGalley for making it available to me to read and review. The story is entirely narrated by Swiv, a 9-year-old Canadian girl who was expelled from school for fighting. She lives with her pregnant mother and her elderly, but spirited grandmother, who has given Swiv the assignment of writing to her absent father about what's going on at home. And this is what she does. Center stage in the story is her grandmother, ever exasperating or embarrassing her; full of stories of life, love, pain, and death; always giving squeezes at just the right moment, and often more besides; and determined to live and die on her own terms. Swiv is an adorable amalgamation of wise and innocent, with a touch of a dirty mouth, and really quite intelligent for her age. All the characters, even the most minor, feel like the real people one might meet in life. If like me, the reader will not want to put this book down, so as not to miss any of Swiv's thoughts. The close relationship between Swiv, her mother, and grandmother is extremely moving. I got a kick out of Swiv's thoughts to Gord, her unborn sibling. One can already sense that will be a close relationship as well; she'll be a good big sister. Grandma is full of wisdom. The book is chock full of laughter. Although some of what happens, even reading the description alone, can be predicted, the path to reaching these points is unique and full of lovely sights. I literally ran the gamut of emotions with this one: I laughed, I cried, and I highlighted some of Grandma's wise words, and even some of Swiv's unexpectedly wise words. This is one I'd highly recommend to fans of Fredrik Backman's 'My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry'. Really, if you enjoy Fredrik Backman at all, I feel like this is one you'd like. If you enjoy books about close family relationships, if you enjoy reading about elderly people who still have a real zest for life (a la Betty White), you'll enjoy this book and I would highly recommend it to all besides; it's a new favorite of mine.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    Had to fight through tears toward the end and then had to email Miriam to tell her how much I loved it immediately after. Fight Night is charmingly narrated by nine-year-old Swiv and revolves mostly around her relationship (and trip to Fresno) with her grandmother. The dueling concerns of a young girl figuring out the world and an old lady making sure she gets the most out of the time she has left in it give this beautiful and funny novel a double-dose of naivety and wisdom that feels larger tha Had to fight through tears toward the end and then had to email Miriam to tell her how much I loved it immediately after. Fight Night is charmingly narrated by nine-year-old Swiv and revolves mostly around her relationship (and trip to Fresno) with her grandmother. The dueling concerns of a young girl figuring out the world and an old lady making sure she gets the most out of the time she has left in it give this beautiful and funny novel a double-dose of naivety and wisdom that feels larger than life. Oh, and Swiv's mom is about to give birth, so there's also that. Like her famous 2004 masterpiece, A Complicated Kindness, Toews masters the young voice in a way that few others do. Fight Night is one of her best.

  13. 5 out of 5

    emma

    sure, i hated the first book i read by this author with a fiery passion. but life is about growth (thanks to the publisher for the copy)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    Another wonderful tragicomic family story from the Canadian novelist Miriam Toews. Basically a two-character study where the characters are unforgettable and the dialogue sparkles. I never believed Swiv was an actual child, but Toews’ artistry is such that I didn’t even care. The audiobook is beautifully performed by Toews and her daughter, Georgia.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    3.5 A quirky tale of the relationship between a 9 year old, Swiv, her pregnant mother and her grandmother. I sometimes find child narrators to be a bit much, but the story charmed me just enough for me to overlook my reservations in this regard.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    When you get expelled from school, your education cannot stand still, it really must continue. So, Grandma Elvira, a Russian immigrant believes in education and takes up the task as she fights to stay alive and do the "assisted dying thing". She assigns Swiv the task of writing to her absent father all about her life... and buddy, believe me, this child has a great deal to say! This book was just great. I loved her grandmother's deadpan humor as reported by Swiv, it was just so funny in places t When you get expelled from school, your education cannot stand still, it really must continue. So, Grandma Elvira, a Russian immigrant believes in education and takes up the task as she fights to stay alive and do the "assisted dying thing". She assigns Swiv the task of writing to her absent father all about her life... and buddy, believe me, this child has a great deal to say! This book was just great. I loved her grandmother's deadpan humor as reported by Swiv, it was just so funny in places that I laughed out loud. On the other hand, Swiv also reports her fear of losing her grandmother and her mother and what would happen to her? Her mother is pregnant, because of course, "she sleeps around". We are reading Swiv's letter. I guess that three generations provide a great deal of material for a child to consider. This family is a cast of characters that have goofy attitudes and do crazy stuff. It is way better than I expected and I have to say that I certainly enjoyed it. 4 stars Happy Reading!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Anna Avian

    This would have been a 1* if it wasn't for Grandma. I wouldn't even remember this book in few weeks time. This would have been a 1* if it wasn't for Grandma. I wouldn't even remember this book in few weeks time.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Oh man, Miriam Toews nails it pretty much every time. Gotta be one of or maybe even the best living Canadian writer. Really enjoyed reading about Swiv and her adventures with her grandmother. I don't think people appreciate her as they should. I hope this is the year Toews gets her Giller. Fight Night is exuberant and funny and even at times cartoonish (in a good way) but still managed to pack an emotional punch. Read it. Oh man, Miriam Toews nails it pretty much every time. Gotta be one of or maybe even the best living Canadian writer. Really enjoyed reading about Swiv and her adventures with her grandmother. I don't think people appreciate her as they should. I hope this is the year Toews gets her Giller. Fight Night is exuberant and funny and even at times cartoonish (in a good way) but still managed to pack an emotional punch. Read it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Clif Hostetler

    This novel is narrated in the voice of a nine year old girl named Swiv reporting on the activities her pregnant mother (unnamed) and rambunctious grandmother name Elvira. This story is supposedly a letter written to Swiv’s absent father, whose location is unknown. The writing of this letter was apparently a home schooling assignment because Swiv was expelled from school some sixty days earlier for reasons not fully explained. The exuberant tone of the writing would suggest that a likely reason f This novel is narrated in the voice of a nine year old girl named Swiv reporting on the activities her pregnant mother (unnamed) and rambunctious grandmother name Elvira. This story is supposedly a letter written to Swiv’s absent father, whose location is unknown. The writing of this letter was apparently a home schooling assignment because Swiv was expelled from school some sixty days earlier for reasons not fully explained. The exuberant tone of the writing would suggest that a likely reason for her dismissal from school might be Attention Deficit Disorder (my diagnosis, not her’s). Of course this extremely long letter evolves into the text of this book, and the reader isn’t reminded again of the epistolary format until the end of the book. Verbosity combined with lack of background explanations left me as a reader wondering what the heck was going on for awhile after starting the book. But after reading a dozen or so pages the context, relationships, and action in the story began to fall into place and become clear. The actress mother struggles with mental health issues, and Elvira’s health is fragile which creates a constant worry for Swiv while she serves as “Grandma’s human walker.” Swiv also worries that her mother might commit suicide, and for good reason because both Swiv's aunt and grandfather are suicide victims. The family lives in Toronto and has relatives living in Fresno, California. So as the story progresses Elvira decides to fly to Fresno to visit relatives accompanied by Swiv whose duty will be to try to keep her grandmother from dying (a significant responsibility for a nine-year-old). The trip, the visit in Fresno, and the return are filled with comedic escapades which if they happened in real life would be scary and near tragic. While in Fresno Elvira breaks an arm and of course they can’t go to a hospital in the USA because of insurance so they need to return to Canada for medical care. There is an emotional ending which provides a satisfying conclusion. But one question remains; why is this story titled Fight Night? Some creative literary analysis could probably develop several explanations, but I will simply provide the following excerpt:I have videos of Grandma on my cellphone. In one I asked her what will happen to her body after she dies. She says ahhhhh, my body! My body will become energy that will light your path. I can hear her yelling at the Raptors. Stay in it! Box out! Arms up! And I can hear her talking about those sharks that survive by playing dead. And about bioluminescence. And about Mom. And about you. And about fires inside us. And about fighting. And about Grandpa and Momo. And what fighting is, even when it’s making peace. Hoooooooooo. You never win games in the exact same way, always adjusting, changing, thinking. Defence is always key. You have to guard.Explanations regarding the above quote: -Momo is aunt who committed suicide. -"You" refers to Swiv's father. -"Sharks" & "bioluminescence" are from earlier text. -Raptors is the Toronto professional basketball team. -Bold fonts for selected sentences are my editing. It's interesting to note that the characters in this novel closely parallel the members of the author's family. Her mother's name is Elvira, and its clear that she is channeling her personality in the character of the grandmother also named Elvira in this story. Also, the author has a sister and father who committed suicide. For further comments about her family see my reviews of Swing Low and All My Puny Sorrows, two books also written by this author. The author has two adult children, a son and a daughter, so it's not clear who is being channeled in the character of Swiv. (view spoiler)[ Actually, the over-the-top creative writing in the voice of Swiv is clearly the style of writing that only Miriam Toews can accomplish. So Swiv must be Toews channeling herself as a nine-year-old. (hide spoiler)]

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tom Mooney

    An utter joy from start to finish. So funny and warm and wild. Swiv and her unique, rebellious, madcap family will stay with me a long time.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lily

    I must apologize but i cannot continue to read this book. I read 27% of it and still don’t know what the story is about and where it is going. I rarely abandon a book but in this case I have too.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jocelyn H

    Miriam Toews is my absolute favourite. I loved this!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Miriam Toews’ Fight Night is a delight of a novel. What other novel features both the Raptors and D. W. Winnicott? Three unique characters: Grandma, Mom, and Swiv. Two wonderful voices: Swiv and Grandma as voiced by Swiv. And one long shtick. Swiv’s a kid, a preteen girl, expelled from school, charged with caring for her delightfully irreverent Grandma, and trying to bring order to her disordered household consisting of her actress mother, Gord – her mother’s forthcoming baby, and Grandma. Toews Miriam Toews’ Fight Night is a delight of a novel. What other novel features both the Raptors and D. W. Winnicott? Three unique characters: Grandma, Mom, and Swiv. Two wonderful voices: Swiv and Grandma as voiced by Swiv. And one long shtick. Swiv’s a kid, a preteen girl, expelled from school, charged with caring for her delightfully irreverent Grandma, and trying to bring order to her disordered household consisting of her actress mother, Gord – her mother’s forthcoming baby, and Grandma. Toews portrays Grandma as irrepressible: an elderly, ill woman, riotously funny, who’s neither weak nor pathetic. Fight Night begs to be quoted and underlined, for full effect read a page or two at a time. The plot of Fight Night borders on the predictable, but so what? With Fight Night, it’s the characters and the humor that matters and not the unlikely plot.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Darryl Suite

    Charming, heartwarming, and moving slice of life tale of three generations of women. Told through the hilarious voice of a child narrator. The Grandmother is the star of the show. Such a delightfully absurd character. There are times I truly laughed out loud: “Once, in the middle of a blizzard, Grandma was adamant about going to her book club because they were doing Euripides who is a peer of Grandma’s. She said they’re the same age and shared a desk at school.” But this absurdism is also the dow Charming, heartwarming, and moving slice of life tale of three generations of women. Told through the hilarious voice of a child narrator. The Grandmother is the star of the show. Such a delightfully absurd character. There are times I truly laughed out loud: “Once, in the middle of a blizzard, Grandma was adamant about going to her book club because they were doing Euripides who is a peer of Grandma’s. She said they’re the same age and shared a desk at school.” But this absurdism is also the downfall of the novel. It was in overkill mode. There always had to be a joke, a witty comment, an outlandish moment. It was too much and it sometimes made the novel feel cartoonish. Liked the book, but would’ve loved it if the narrative allowed more time for the poignant moments to breathe.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Chris Haak

    Toews is a wonderful writer no matter what she writes and she always makes up these amazing characters, I love her books. And even though I found this novel maybe less interesting than 'The Flying Troutmans' or 'All My Puny Sorrows' (which I consider her best), I still enjoyed reading this quite a lot. Swiv, her mother and her grandmother are just so original, witty, funny and heartbreaking, I absolutely loved them! Thank you Bloomsbury and Edelweiss for the ARC. Toews is a wonderful writer no matter what she writes and she always makes up these amazing characters, I love her books. And even though I found this novel maybe less interesting than 'The Flying Troutmans' or 'All My Puny Sorrows' (which I consider her best), I still enjoyed reading this quite a lot. Swiv, her mother and her grandmother are just so original, witty, funny and heartbreaking, I absolutely loved them! Thank you Bloomsbury and Edelweiss for the ARC.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Christina Boulard

    This book quietly broke my heart into a million pieces, and I loved every second of it. I wish I could forget everything I just read and reread it again and again for the first time. Please, please read this book. I promise it’s everything you need right now.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bobbi Salkeld

    How do I love Toews? Let me count the ways. I love her sense humour. I loved her familial relationships. I love the blurry line between real life and fiction. I love the sadness. These are characters you want to carry with you long after the last page.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Roxanne Meek

    Swiv, Grandma, Mom and Gord’s story Is a hilarious, ongoing conversation of a life full of struggles and a life well lived. If you are a lover of all things Miriam Toews, you will find much to love in Fight Night, and if you haven’t read Toews yet, well, as Grandma would say: bombs away!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tessimo Mahuta

    A-whew. Blow out a deep breath after reading this - prose convincingly pulled from the heart of a child and all the more emotional for it. Love love loved it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

    3.5 stars. Written from the point of view of a nine-year-old named Swiv, Fight Night follows three generations of women – Swiv, her pregnant mother, and her eccentric grandma – living together in Toronto. Swiv is writing a letter to her absent father, in which she details the antics of her grandma and her day-to-day life during the third trimester of her mother’s pregnancy. The book is written almost in a stream of consciousness style and is packed full of comedic moments. The humour was borderi 3.5 stars. Written from the point of view of a nine-year-old named Swiv, Fight Night follows three generations of women – Swiv, her pregnant mother, and her eccentric grandma – living together in Toronto. Swiv is writing a letter to her absent father, in which she details the antics of her grandma and her day-to-day life during the third trimester of her mother’s pregnancy. The book is written almost in a stream of consciousness style and is packed full of comedic moments. The humour was bordering on overkill for me, but luckily, it didn’t quite pass that line. I enjoyed Swiv’s voice, the absurdity of the situations she found herself in, and my time reading about these women. Fight Night is a touching story about family and love, but it isn’t one that will stick with me long term.

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