2016 Anthony nominee â€” Best Young Adult Novel
Read the first chapter of Fighting Chance here.
Until his coach and mentor is killed at a tae kwon do tournament, seventeen-year-old Matt Foley faces a normal range of problemsâ€”feeling alienated from his perpetually perky family, struggling to focus on classes when sports seem far more interesting, chafing at the slow pace of life in his small Virginia town.
The tournament changes everything. During a sparring match, Bobby Davis, a baby-faced stranger from Richmond, crushes the coachâ€™s larynx with a powerful spinning hook kick. To the police, it looks like a tragic accident. To Matt, it looks like murder. A few of his friends agree, including the attractive but puzzling Graciana Cortez. Matt knows it doesnâ€™t make much sense for teenagers to investigate a murder, but he canâ€™t stand to do nothing.
He plunges aheadâ€”sneaking off to Richmond, hanging around in bad neighborhoods, barely escaping after spying on Davis as he easily defeats all opponents at an illegal fight club. Now Mattâ€™s sure someone hired Davis to commit the murderâ€”but who would want to harm the coach, and why do it at a tournament? Mattâ€™s search for answers brings him into conflict with his school, with the police, and with his parents. But he persists, even when some conflicts prove dangerous.
To improve his self-defense skills, he joins a krav maga class taught by a man who becomes his new mentor. Matt has a feeling that heâ€™ll need those skills, that before all this is over, heâ€™ll have to face Bobby Davis himself.
â€œA smartly crafted mystery filled with suspense and intrigue.â€
â€œStevensâ€™ portrait of Matt, Graciana, and their town is a compelling one, full of convincingly real dangers.â€
Published by Poisoned Pen Press/ The Poisoned Pencil, October 2015
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