This skilful novel in blank verse is about Lily, a 16-year-old victim of physical and psychological bullying at school. Her loving and creative mother, Bernadette, does not leave the house. Both suffer from other people’s cruel response to their weight. Taken by her father to boxing training, Lily channels her rage into building her power. She meets Rosie, who “walks like there are no clouds”, and finds love. She learns to love herself too, has her revenge on the worst of the bullies, faces an even harder challenge in the ring, and takes control of her life. Bernadette also has a sea change.
However hard she tries to fit in, Lily is constantly bullied and even beaten up because of her weight. But when her dad hangs up a punch bag for her, she begins, gradually, to discover her own strength, until eventually she stops trying to hide, and starts trying to win. Gloves Off is an intense, original and profoundly moving verse novel, filled with the fierce, hard joy of finding your power.