Tessa McPhail has a bad habit—tagging—that lands her at New Directions, an alternative school in Montreal’s toughest neighborhood. The school is far from Tessa’s home and full of troubled kids. To make matters worse, half of every school day is devoted to boxing. The other students think boxing is cool. Not Tessa, who cannot handle violence of any kind. But when a neighbor starts a petition to have New Directions closed down, Tessa discovers something worth fighting for, both in and out of the ring.
"a suspenseful, insightful story.... The high-interest graffiti/boxing combo is supported by real affection for throwaway teens, resulting in a story that should have broad appeal." -- Kirkus Review
"Polak excels at portraying her characters. All of the main characters come off as true, and their personal stories make the reader want to know more.... Polak also provides a behind-the-scenes look at boxing.... Issues of teen pregnancy and homosexuality are handled with care.... Readers, like Tessa, will discover that in the end, family may not always be those you are related to, but those with whom you choose to be." -- VOYA
"Monique Polak has woven her love and respect for a non-traditional school sport into a book which celebrates non-traditional approaches." -- Resource Links
"Monique Polak brings to bear all the gifts of an accomplished novelist. The dialogue is fresh and authentic throughout. The story itself is exciting, emotional and inspiring. This is one of those young adult novels whose appeal will likely go well beyond its chosen readership." -- Jurors' remarks from the 2014 Quebec Writers' Federation Prize for Young Adult and Children's Literature