Review: In the Ring

In the Ring

by Sierra Isley

The Little Press, 2023

Category: Young Adult
Reviewer: Kathryn Hall

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Rose Berman is back at school for the start of her senior year after missing a couple of months when she had a breakdown due to anxiety and panic attacks after her mother's suicide. She is on medication and is seeing a therapist, but she is bullied by classmates and haunted by the fear that she will suffer the same mental health issues as her mother. She is supported by her ineffectual father and her lesbian best friend, and boxing lessons help her feel less helpless. The bad boy living next door is also boxing at the same gym, as well as making money in an underground fight club. He and Rose begin to help each other, and a romance blooms.

This interesting young adult novel is not suitable for younger readers due to the drugs, alcohol, tobacco, physical violence, and generally poor decision making by most of the characters.

Rose's father is not Jewish, but Rose and her mother are. The family had kept kosher and attended synagogue, but stopped after Rose's mother died. There is only casual Jewish content in the story. Most of the characters are white, but Rose's best friend Gemma has Chinese ancestry, and Gemma's girlfriend Nishi is of South Asian descent.

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Reviewer Kathryn Hall is a retired pediatrician, lifetime member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, volunteer librarian for her synagogue and for her local LGBT+ center, and active in her local PFLAG chapter. She has a special interest in Jewish children's literature with LGBT+ content. She lives in Central California with her husband, the youngest of her three children, and two of her eight grandchildren.