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Publisher's Summary

Finalist for the 2021 Pen/Faulkner Award
"Full of verve.... Revelatory."  (Los Angeles Times)

A dazzling and darkly comic novel of love, violence, and friendship in the California suburbs

Bunny Lampert is the princess of North Shore⁠ - beautiful, tall, blond, with a rich real-estate-developer father and a swimming pool in her backyard. Michael⁠⁠ - with a ponytail down his back and a septum piercing⁠ - lives with his aunt in the cramped stucco cottage next door. When Bunny catches Michael smoking in her yard, he discovers that her life is not as perfect as it seems. At six foot three, Bunny towers over their classmates. Even as she dreams of standing out and competing in the Olympics, she is desperate to fit in, to seem normal, and to get a boyfriend, all while hiding her father's escalating alcoholism. 

Michael has secrets of his own. At home and at school Michael pretends to be straight, but at night he tries to understand himself by meeting men online for anonymous encounters that both thrill and scare him. When Michael falls in love for the first time, a vicious strain of gossip circulates and a terrible, brutal act becomes the defining feature of both his and Bunny's futures⁠⁠ - and of their friendship. With storytelling as intoxicating as it is intelligent, Rufi Thorpe has created a tragic and unflinching portrait of identity, a fascinating examination of our struggles to exist in our bodies, and an excruciatingly beautiful story of two humans aching for connection.

©2020 Rufi Thorpe (P)2020 Random House Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: LGBTQ+

Critic Reviews

An Entertainment Weekly, Parade, and LitHub Most Anticipated Book of 2020

"[An] electric portrait of adolescence." (Time)

"The Knockout Queen [is] full of verve and sketched in colors as vibrant as a Tilt-A-Whirl David Hockney landscape.... Thorpe inverts the more common tale of an impoverished sufferer who is momentarily saved or mourned by a richer, more stable friend. The result is revelatory." (Hillary Kelly, Los Angeles Times)

"Rufi Thorpe unfurls a coming of-age tale that feels both fresh and familiar: a shrewd exploration of all the ways people find to pass on the hurt and anger they’ve been given and a tender, furious ode to the connections that somehow still endure, despite everything. A-" (Entertainment Weekly)

What listeners say about The Knockout Queen

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Loved this book!

I’m a very busy nurse executive and thought I would like to read something different and this book was definitely a different treat!

6 people found this helpful

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true friendship stands the test of time.

the narrator is so good at altering his voice for all the characters. the story is beautiful and bittersweet.

5 people found this helpful

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Much better than the synopsis lets on

The way this book is being marketed does not feel fair to the beautiful, strange, twisted, absurd, and unfortunate story. Also, I really like the narrator.

4 people found this helpful

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Great listen!

One of the best books that I’ve read this year! Michael Crouch is an outstanding narrator! I’ll definitely read more by Rufi Thorpe!

4 people found this helpful

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Dark & Uncaptivating

Purchased this after reading about in people. I only kept listening in hopes the story would improve for me, It didn’t. I found no humor at all and it only kept a depressing dark tone. Was sadly disappointed. To make People Magazine, many must like. I personally did not and would not recommend if you are looking for a captivating story.

3 people found this helpful

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Knockout queen won't knock your socks off

There were moments in this book where I felt really drawn in but when all is said and done, the characters weren't really well flushed out. Which is odd to say done there were really only 2 main ones. But I felt as if both characters did things that didn't reflect who we had come to know. Disappointing.

3 people found this helpful

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weird

this book started out out but kust finished up pointless and weird. there was no point or polished story line to finish it off

2 people found this helpful

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  • 02-12-22

Depressing. Awful.

Do not waste time, or credits. This book is so depressing and no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Hated it.

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Good but with some setbacks

I loved a lot of things about this book. It dealt with a lot of themes and topics I often read about: it explored the weight of being different in high school. It was funny at times and sad at others.

Unfortunately I felt like the plot was pretty listless at times. It just kind of wandered around a lot.

But overall an okay coming of age story.

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Loved this book more than I thought I would

This story is heartbreaking, awkward, sweet, and curious all wrapped together. You can’t help but get pulled into the story and experience everything the main character feels. Truly a great read.