Tony Antioch comes from a rough home. Since his dad, his mom has brought home a string of abusive boyfriends. Tony’s been too weak or too scared to stand up to them. Then, by a combined effort of his best friend Rob, the principal of his school and Coach Dave, Tony learns how to fight. It serves as an outlet for Tony’s anger, and becomes the one place where he feels alive. But when he helps the father of one of his friends, who is known for drug dealing, Tony’s life gets significantly more complicated as Chaz doesn’t like to owe people favors. Tony has to decide between the gym and the life that Coach Dave and his principal are trying to set up for him, and the easy money that comes from running drugs. Except that he doesn’t really have a choice.
I’ll admit that at the beginning of the novel I felt that the language was heavier than it needed to be, and that was a little off putting. But once I got a couple chapters in and started to get to know Tony as a character, I could see some of my students in the attitude and actions of Tony Antioch.
Given some of the content, I think Tap Out might be a little mature for middle schoolers, so I probably won’t be giving it to any of my students, but I did enjoy the read.