Category and Genre: YA Contemporary
Seventeen-year-old Annie Armani’s life has been a whirlwind since she won her first mixed martial arts title by knocking her opponent out in a single punch. Everyone now wants a chance to beat her for the title and prove what Annie has feared all along: that her victory was a fluke.
With her next title match upcoming, Annie finds herself the star of a half-documentary, half-reality show chronicling her journey. Annie struggles to comprehend the hoopla surrounding her title fight and instead of embracing her newfound celebrity status, she hides. While she may be a fighter in the ring, she’s mentally closing herself off to the people around her, including Jake Duff, her new trainer. Scarred from her father’s disappearance, disappointed with her mother’s attachment to a jailbird boyfriend, and unaware of her half-sister’s desire for her attention, Annie avoids any discussion about her family while TV producers and interviewers attempt to wrangle a sob-story out of her. The producers, however, aren’t looking for confessions regarding her self-identified “daddy issues” or her trouble fitting in at her uppity private school. They want her to shed light on her older brother’s recent death—who was also an MMA fighter, and Annie’s idol.
First 250 Words:
As I walked into the convenience store, I immediately recognized the fight showing on the old TV hitched up in the corner. I pulled the hood of my sweatshirt over my head, my hands stuffed in the two pockets. I cursed the fact that the words “Donovan’s Fight Club” adorned the back of the sweatshirt in big letters. I grabbed the milk I had come in for and scooped up a bag of Skittles for Margie. I walked up to the counter, pulling out a wad of bills from my back pocket. The attendant’s eyes were glued to the TV. The fight reflected in eyes as I put my items on the counter.
“Gimme one sec, okay?” he said, his eyes staying on the fight. “This girl’s gonna throw a punch like nothin’ I ever seen before.” He paused to chuckle, still watching, tossing chips into his mouth. “She’s gonna be the next big MMA star. I don’t even know what MMA means, but they say she’ll never lose a fight.”
“MMA—it stands for Mixed Martial Arts.” I swallowed. “Look, I have somewhere to be. Besides, isn’t this fight old news?”
“Old news? They show it over and over, and every time, I have to stop and watch. It’s—what do the kids these days say?—it’s gone viral. The girl’s local, too. Her first real fight, and she won like it was nothin’.”
Following the clerk’s gaze, I looked over just in time to see the knock-out punch.