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Chessboxer Reader Reviews

Evie Mapperley

It’s a fast read, with a lot of heart.

In my opinion, I really enjoyed Chessboxer because Leah, who is the main character, is very inspiring and I have even started playing chess myself. Although not everyone would agree, I strongly believe that you should read this book. I would recommend Chessboxer to over eleven-year-olds because this book is very mature and I had to check some words in the dictionary. While reading through the book, I was on the edge of my seat itching to find out what happens next during some of the closing chess rounds. I can understand why Leah was feeling angry and not dealing with her grief. After self-sabotaging her chance to become a grandmaster, she quits but slowly finds her way back to herself, and chess, through chessboxing. It’s a fast read, with a lot of heart. However I will admit that I probably didn’t understand half of the chess talk, I reread it and understood it a bit more.

Ella O’Gorman

A fast-paced, unusual story with a gutsy central female character who is struggling to cope with grief and her genius ability to play chess. Then she discovers chessboxing.

Told through a series of blog posts, the story is centred around Leah, a chess champion who is close to becoming a grandmaster. However, following her father's death, she finds herself weighed down by grief and makes the momentous decision to quit chess. When she discovers chessboxing, a high-intensity sport, it helps to fill the void in her life. She finds a new sense of purpose, makes new friends and it reignites her passion for chess. Overall, an exciting read, that offers something totally different.

Thomas Bryant

This book is very gripping and intense.

This book is very gripping and intense, but for me it took a bit of reading to get into it.

The main character, Leah Baxter, is portrayed as a strong and spirited girl who does not like to share some parts of her past. She is willing to give up chess until she finds a hybrid of boxing and chess, chessboxing. Her mother was not so keen though, as she loathed the prospect of boxing. Leah's chess coach sides with her mother but Leah still does it.

I like the way the author tells this as a blog which Leah creates to share her experiences. Her coach and mother think she may be sabotaging herself as she is consumed with grief.

Overall this is a good book and describes certain events in a lot of detail. When reading I was gripped by the story and the realisation of it all, especially in the boxing matches. It was also interesting learning about different chess strategies and their names.

But it does not describe the places and people in a great deal of detail, and this could make it a bit better. Although it is still a great book and I hope it sells well.

by Thomas Bryant Year 8 RpJCK Great Torrington School

Charlotte Walker

A great book about ambition and overcoming the odds.

This is an interesting look into the world of chess. Not a game I know a lot about, but this book has helped to bring to life a game that could be perceived as quite boring. Leah's experiences and descriptions of the chess world she's inhabited since she was very young brings to life a fiercely competitive thinking sport. If you don't know much about it (raises hand) then don't worry, there's helpful notes at the back of the book and, to be honest, Leah's enthusiasm comes across while explaining each aspect of the game (a positive of having such a precocious main character, she explains everything to you).

Leah has played chess all her life, but while dealing with the death of her father she begins to feel increasingly smothered and starts to self-sabotage. Homeschooled and with few friends, Leah goes crashing out of her lastest chess competition and into the wide world. Meeting some interesting characters along the way (The constant poetry fountain that is Kit was my favourite) the hyper-intelligent Leah seems to have everything figured out except her own life. 

This book has a lot of highs and low, but the characters pull you in and throughout all I wanted was for Leah to find a place where she could be happy. 

Now, Chessboxing? The descriptions of this sport were brutal, and I had to google it because I didn't believe it was real (it is). These parts of the book had my adrenaline pumping and when Leah puts everything she's worked for on the line in the title fight at the end I knew it was going to be a late-night of reading with my heart in my mouth until I knew the outcome.

An amazing book about a strong girl fighting to find what she loves and commit to it with everything she has. There are potential "love interest" characters throughout but this is definitely a book about a girl who's looking to find herself and succeed above all else.

Book Information

ISBN: 9781783448401
Publication date: 3rd October 2019
Author: Stephen Davies
Publisher: Andersen Press Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 320 pages
Suitable for: YA readers
Genres: Family / Home Stories, Sporting Stories, Personal Social Health Economic , Personal Social Health Economic
Other Categories: Books of the Month, Reluctant Readers, Reviewed by Children, Star Books