Tony Antioch is seventeen, and lives in a trailer park called Pleasant Meadows. Tony dreams of standing up and rescuing his mother from her own drug habits and constant stream of abusive boyfriends. Tony’s friends each have their own troubles to face, and after Rob and school situations bring Tony to a local gym to learn mixed martial arts, Tony thinks he might have found a talent and a way to help him escape from the troubled path that seems set for his future. However, Tony will have to solve some problems of his own before he can help his mother, any of his friends, or himself escape the paths they are on. With everyone around him stuck on a dead end track, can Tony find a way to stay true to himself and face the consequences of the choices he makes along the way?
Tap Out is a hard book to read, because the problems faced by the characters are very real, and very troubling. There are people trapped by their situations with no apparent way out. Tony, Rob, and the people around them feel very real, and I found myself with a racing heart and sweaty palms as the characters faced problems far beyond anything I have ever faced. The book is very gritty, and completely unapologetic in revealing parts of our society that often get overlooked or swept under the rug. I think that is wonderful. I could have done with a few less f-bombs being tossed around, although they were used realistically, but after awhile I did find it a little distracting.
Tap Out is a book I would recommend to older teens and adults. It deals with serious issues, and shows a very harsh reality. It is not an easy read, it is not fun or quick going. In fact there were a few moments in which I had to set it aside for a moment, but then immediately picked it back up because I needed to know what would happen next. Adults who work with teens, regardless of whether or not you think of the teens as at risk for abuse or of getting involved in dangerous situations, would do well to read the book in order to help understand, anticipate, and help teens they encounter deal with some serious issues.
A version of this review was previously posted on Sharon the Librarian.