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Fighting Ruben Wolfe (Underdogs) [Paperback]

Markus Zusak
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

28 Jan 2010 Underdogs (Book 2)

I say, 'Don't lose your heart, Rube.' And very clearly, without moving, my brother answers me. He says, 'I'm not tryin' to lose it, Cam. I'm tryin' to find it.'

The Wolfe brothers know how to fight. They've been fighting all their lives. Now there's something more at stake than just winning.

A powerful, poignant novel from the author of the international bestseller, The Book Thief.

Frequently Bought Together

Fighting Ruben Wolfe (Underdogs) + Getting the Girl (Underdogs) + The Underdog (Underdogs)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Definitions (Young Adult) (28 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862309574
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862309579
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 183,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Written with a spare, gritty authenticity, this is a compelling and refreshingly brief novel by the author of the bestselling The Book Thief." (The Guardian)

"Originally published in Zusak's native Australia three years before the hugely successful The Book Thief hit these shores, Fighting Ruben Wolfe is a lithe and affecting short novel about two brothers who become lured into the seedy underbelly of an illegal boxing ring in order to make some money to help out their parents. With echoes of the vulnerable and questioning first person narrative of The Outsiders, this is a fiery and ruminative novel for young teenagers." (The Bookseller)

"Gritty novella about tough lives in tough neighbourhoods at tough economic times. Short, sharp and punchy, it has moments of savage humour and pure pathos. There's poetry in every life - even when it's seeped in violence." (

"An impressive and heartwarming story of fraternal and familial bonding." (The Irish Times)

"The novel is [...] a knockout" (The Irish Times)

Book Description

A fantastic book about fighting against the odds from the author of The Book Thief.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fighting Ruben Wolfe 29 Jan 2010
By Jenny, Wondrous Reads TOP 500 REVIEWER
The fantastic Mr. Zusak is back, with a long-awaited UK reprint of his early novel Fighting Ruben Wolfe, which was first published in Australia in the year 2000. It's not quite in the same league as The Book Thief, but his excellent writing and characterisation still shines through in true Zusak style.

Brothers Cameron and Ruben Wolfe head up this gritty tale of family and fighting, and show just what determination and a sense of pride can achieve. When their father loses his job and starts struggling to pay the bills, the brothers know they have to do something. An underground boxing ring provides the perfect way to make quick cash, and vent some anger at the same time.

Zusak's depiction of the Wolfe family is so realistic it's hard to remember you're reading about fictional people. They face the prospect of going on the dole, vicious rumours about their daughter's sexual promiscuity and the worrying need for more money. It's refreshing to read about everyday problems like these, rather than exaggerated situations that are impossible to relate to. I don't know whether any of these plot lines stem from personal experience on the author's behalf, but whatever the reason for their inclusion, I'm just glad they're there.

Ruben's fight scenes, though quite harrowing, are action-packed and suspenseful. They'll no doubt be a big hit with the boys, and will give girls an insight into a very male-orientated sport. The same can be said for the male narration. It's such a nice change to be in a guy's head, and to see what they really think about girls, school and life in general.

Fighting Ruben Wolfe is a story about pride, strength and that unbreakable bond between two brothers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A quick, powerful jab of a novel 20 May 2011
By mogwins
Format:Kindle Edition
Fighting Ruben Wolfe is very short, an afternoon's read at most, but Zusak's battling brothers are more fully realised than many authors manage in ten times as many words. It's story of heart, with heart. Yes, some of the word play is a little, um, cheesy, but it fits with the voice of the narrator struggling to express his feelings in the best way he can. Well worth a few hours investment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tear jerker! 9 May 2010
Markus Zusak elicits the true smells, tastes and feelings of Australia and centres its sweaty, gritty atmosphere on the Wolfe family, a family struggling to make end meets with a father out of work, a family with four children each enduring their own paths of personal development. We experience this through the story of Cameron and Ruben who embark on a journey of their own that manifests itself in the guise of bare-fisted boxing. The authenticity of the characters leaves me thinking that they MUST be based on real life people. This is a rather short, beautifully concise novel where every single word of dialogue and description is fundamental to the overall plot and atmosphere. Markus Zusak, one of Australia's most inspired writers, perfects, yet again, the art of imbibing big, adult themes in young adult fiction. Pick it up and be transported to the verandas of Australia and to experience the coming of age of one young boy admiring his older brother - and who could blame him. I too admired him for the overwhelming sense of love he exudes for his family, his determination and his resolve. Try not to cry with this book...I dare you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a cracking read 28 Mar 2010
A cracking read, you immediately fall in love with the main characters, the ill adjusted wistful younger brother and the good looking, wise cracking, Ruben.
When things aren't working out so well in the Wolfe clan, the younger siblings find a novel way of making ends meet and somehow unite their fractured family along the way.
Atmospheric and gritty with moments of poetic beauty, fighting Ruben Wolfe is not only a terrific yarn but a captivating piece of writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The good fight? 16 Mar 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
`Fighting Ruben Wolfe' tells the story of the Wolfe brothers, Ruben and Cameron, two very different brothers who both have a lot of fight in them, their fight to be understood, their fight to be accepted. Ruben is offered the opportunity to box for money, and Cameron is asked too, they need the money to help their proud parents, who won't accept help, especially their Dad, so the brothers take the step to box and find out more about themselves, what they mean to each other and their family.

I enjoyed `Fighting Ruben Wolfe', Markus Zusak describes the Wolfe family brilliantly, you feel like you know them because there are aspects of them that will remind you of someone you know, which is nice to read in a book.

Cameron Wolfe is one of my favourite characters, `Getting the Girl' (the sequel to `Fighting Ruben Wolfe', which I read first) is the reason why, which I will be reviewing next. There is something about Cameron, for his age, he is good and kind, understanding, he is very much a dark horse but you see his qualities and love him for them.

Ruben is also a great character, there is much more to him that meets the eye.

A fantastic book, read as soon as humanly possible.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not The Book Thief but still a good read 23 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Of course after reading the Book Thief ,this book was never going to be 5 star... worth reading,though,atmospheric & though provoking...anyone reading this should certainly read The Book Thief by the same author.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars great for teenage
even though it was not of my favoured genre, the story was good. I'd recommend to years 7_11 year olds.
Published 18 months ago by Patto
4.0 out of 5 stars Zusak is one to watch...
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's an easy and engrossing read.

The story has soul and humor and the principal characters are very well drawn. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Lar de Nib
5.0 out of 5 stars I admit to being obsessed with Zusak!
Although you can tell this was written before The Book Thief, it still has Zusak's unique style of writing, which I'm a big fan of! Read more
Published 20 months ago by Good Read Hunter
3.0 out of 5 stars Short changed and disappointed
I had such high hopes of this book. Having read and loved and re-read The Book Thief I decided to purchase the kindle edition of Fighting Ruben Wolfe. Read more
Published on 4 July 2012 by Talisker
5.0 out of 5 stars Another goodun
Not quite as powerful or in the same league as The Book Thief but great nonetheless! Zuzak is billed as an author for teenagers but I'm nearly 30 and I read this in a couple of... Read more
Published on 14 Jun 2012 by Mr. P. Wells
5.0 out of 5 stars Kindle edition
Excellent. V. interesting but a bit of an abrupt ending. Would recommend and would read other titles by this author.
Published on 16 Jan 2012 by funicular1953
4.0 out of 5 stars another superb book by the authour of The book thief and Getting the...
Although I preferred Getting the Girl which I had just finished reading, this book delights on many levels. Read more
Published on 10 July 2011 by Simi
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
I enjoy all of Zusak books, this is no exception. Well written with engaging characters and good, simple, plot. Although geared towards teenagers it still appeals to me. Read more
Published on 25 Aug 2010 by Taff
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