Punching Bag (Paperback)

Punching Bag By Rex Ogle Cover Image

Punching Bag (Paperback)

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A New York Public Library Best Book of 2021


The companion to Rex Ogle’s award-winning Free Lunch is a searing account of adolescence in a household torn by domestic violence.


Punching Bag is the compelling true story of a high school career defined by poverty and punctuated by outbreaks of domestic abuse. Rex Ogle, who brilliantly mapped his experience of hunger in Free Lunch, here describes his struggle to survive; reflects on his complex, often paradoxical relationship with his passionate, fierce mother; and charts the trajectory of his stepdad’s anger. Hovering over Rex’s story is the talismanic presence of his unborn baby sister.


Through it all, Rex threads moments of grace and humor that act as beacons of light in the darkness. Compulsively readable, beautifully crafted, and authentically told, Punching Bag is a remarkable memoir about one teenager’s cycle of violence, blame, and attempts to forgive his parents—and himself.



Rex Ogle is the author of Free Lunch, which won the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award; Abuela, Don’t Forget Me, a finalist for the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award; and Punching Bag, a NYPL Best Book of the Year. Rex lives in Los Angeles.
Product Details ISBN: 9781324052210
ISBN-10: 132405221X
Publisher: Norton Young Readers
Publication Date: March 7th, 2023
Pages: 240
Language: English
Readers will see themselves in Rex and appreciate the hope he offers: life can get better.... This should be widely available to anyone who needs it.
— Booklist (starred review)

Though the subject matter is harrowing...Ogle's message throughout is focused on survival and hope. Highly recommended for all middle and high school collections.
— School Library Journal (starred review)

[A] vivid, emphatic memoir.... A beacon of hope to readers trying to survive their own childhoods.
— Publishers Weekly