Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Fight by Luke Wordley

Sam Pennington’s life has fallen apart. His father is dead. His mum’s started drinking. And now they’ve been dumped in a dismal public-housing complex in East London. Sam’s anger at his circumstances puts him on the brink of expulsion from school and into dangerous conflict with those around him.

Professional boxing trainer Jerry Ambrose has finally gotten everything together. After a turbulent early life, his newfound faith has helped him reconcile with his past and dedicate his life to helping others.

But when a brutal street fight leads Sam to Jerry’s boxing club, both their futures are thrown into question. As Jerry reaches out to Sam, an extraordinary fighting talent emerges—a talent that reopens the wounds of Jerry’s own life. Both find themselves battling what can happen to a man’s soul when his anger is channeled through his fists.

Despite wowing ringside crowds, Sam’s boxing success fails to bring him peace or happiness, while Jerry’s inner struggles threaten the very core of his beliefs. Can Sam be saved from his rage? Or will Jerry’s reawakened ambition tear them both apart?

My review:
   I hate sports, and have absolutely no interest in boxing at all, but this book intrigued me, so I decided to give it a try. Besides, there aren't that many books on the Christian fiction market specifically geared towards men, so I like to read the ones that are out there. That being said, women should enjoy this book also.

  The story is about boxing. About a teenage boy who boxing comes to almost as natural as breathing. It is also a story that shows where anger and aggression can take a person if they can't control it.

  I really liked the main character. He had major anger and aggression issues, but you just can't help feeling sorry for him and wanting him to succeed at what he is doing. His story gives a heartbreaking glimpse into what too many young men are going through for real.

 Whether I wanted to or not, I learned a lot about boxing by reading this book, and it was actually interesting. I learned about training, the different kind of matches, etc. No, I am not going to take up an interest in it, but the author did a great job of making that part of the book interesting.

  What I walked away with after reading the book are a couple of things: God can reach anyone. And we can get so involved in something, in this case training a young man to box, that we lose sight of what is important: winning people to Christ. In the book, winning became so important to one of the characters, he felt it was an imposition to tell about Jesus to someone who was begging to be told.

  I loved the book and hated to put it down last night, but I needed to get to bed. However, I did finish it after coming home from work and having supper. I felt the ending could have been drawn out a bit more, but I was far from disappointed with the ending and found tears in my eyes at the climax of Sam's story. This is a terrific read, and I am impressed with Luke Wordley's debut novel. It is one he should be proud of.

About the author:

Luke Wordley is 37 years old and lives with his family in the South of England. A passionate Christian, he has spent most of his career involved in charity work and International Development. ‘The Fight’ is Luke’s first novel.
The book was self-published in the UK in December 2011, receiving positive reviews and reaching a Christian best-seller list in Summer, 2012. Luke sold the book on a “Buy One, Give One Free” basis in the UK, with 1,000 books now having been given to around 80 prison chaplaincies in the UK -click here for more details. He also speaks regularly at church events and conferences around the UK.
In May, 2013, the worldwide rights to ‘The Fight’ were bought by major US publisher, Tyndale House, with the novel being re-published in the USA and UK in May, 2014.

Interview with the author, taken from his website. (http://www.lukewordley.com/)

Is ‘The Fight’ based on a true story or biographical in any way?
No. It’s a fictional story. I was brought up on a farm in South Essex, similar to my main character, Sam. But apart from that, there is no biographical element to the actual story. Of course, life experience informs your writing generally. In 2008, I went through a very tough time personally (see below), and elements of my experience during that period are reflected in Jerry’s journey in the book. Although the circumstances were very different, some of the broader underlying causes and emotions were similar.
Luke's self-published version - December, 2011
How did ‘The Fight’ come into existence?
I actually began writing the book twelve years ago! My wife and I spent a few months travelling before we took up new jobs. I had always dreamed of writing a novel, so I took a small laptop with me and just started writing. I had a vague theme in mind but one day the whole storyline came to me on a flight from Thailand to Australia. I wrote the first 30,000 words during that trip.
When we returned to the UK, we took up exciting new jobs running an international development charity, which was very busy and demanding. So the book was put away and I didn’t touch it for seven years. In 2009, I got it out again and wrote the rest.
Did the hiatus in writing the book help at all?
Definitely. When I was 25 years old, I was well positioned to relate to Sam’s character – a teenager in the book. However, I couldn’t have written so authentically about Jerry’s journey and struggles (in the 2nd half of the book) without the life experiences I had during the interim period – told in more detail in Breakdown to Breakthrough.
What inspired you to write fiction with a Spiritual theme?
I only became a Christian when I was 19 years old, so I missed out on any children’s Christian fiction that might have been out there.
I was quite inspired in the early years of my faith by the ‘Left Behind’ series that was popular at the time. However, I was mainly frustrated, and still am, at the seeming shortage of fiction with Christian/inspirational themes written for the UK market.
The success of ‘The Shack’ and a few other books has shown me there is a hunger for fiction with a spiritual theme. However, there still seems to be very little on the market in the UK, especially for men.
Is your book just written for a male audience?
I guess its two main characters are male and, being set in a boxing context, the book has quite a masculine theme. However, I have also received great feedback from female readers too, as many of the book’s wider themes – anger, hope, faith, ambition, – are universal to us all. It is certainly my hope though that it will be read by men and they will be inspired and encouraged in their faith.
What are your hopes for ‘The Fight’?
I hope that ‘The Fight’ will prove a cracking good read for anyone who picks up a copy. I pray it inspires and challenges readers and
Published by Tyndale - May 2014
encourages them in their walk with God. I pray it also helps to show readers the faithfulness of God however much we mess up.
Finally, I also hope ‘The Fight’ will contribute towards and possibly inspire a more vibrant Christian fiction market in the UK.
Will there ever be a sequel to The Fight?
The current book is actually only half of the original conceived story. However, when I had finished writing the current book’s climactic ending, I strongly felt that this book should finish there. I may well write the rest of Sam’s story one day, but now doesn’t quite feel the right time.
What is your next book then? 
I am currently working on a story set in the Congo region of Africa. Like with ‘The Fight’, the whole storyline just came to me one day in a kind of “whoosh”! It is an incredibly powerful story in an extraordinary setting – a region I’ve fallen in love with despite its troubles, through my previous work in Africa.
Although the storyline and setting is completely different to ‘The Fight’, and somewhat more ‘epic’ in subject and scale, the style will hopefully be similar. I try to write books that will entertain the reader and keep those pages turning, but also challenge us about our thinking and the way we live – myself most of all!