The Contender, by Robert Lipsyte, gives a powerful look at growing up. Alfred, the main character, is a 15-year old high school dropout whose best friend is a drug addict. Alfred is often pushed around and beat up by other guys his age. Eventually, Alfred decided he wanted to be able to protect himself. He started going to Donatelli’s Gym, where he learned to box. With help from Henry, Mr. Donatelli, and the rest of the guys at the gym, Alfred gets his first and second fight. After a shaky third fight, Mr. Donatelli thought Alfred should stop boxing. Alfred thought he should finish what he started, so he fought his last fight.
I really like how Robert Lipsyte wrote The Contender. He did a great job keeping the story going. Lipsyte would fast forward through boring parts, and capitalize on the key moments. I liked this because it kept the book interesting and exciting. The book, overall, was good, but predictable. I knew how the last fight was going to go before it even happened. I wish there would have been other small conflicts during the course of the book, so you would always be guessing what is going to happen next. I really liked the use of theme in this book, because there was a common theme throughout the whole book: being determination. He was determined to win all through the book. I would recommend this book to anyone who really enjoys reading novels about sports or boxing specifically, or anyone who likes a good coming of age story.