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.
About the Author: Rex Ogle was born and raised mostly in Texas. He received the 2020 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award for his memoir Free Lunch. A former children's book editor in New York City, Rex and his partner now enjoy much nicer weather in Los Angeles.
Praise for Free Lunch:
"A mighty portrait of poverty amid cruelty and optimism."-Kirkus, starred
"Ogle's emotional honesty pays off in the form of complex characterization and a bold, compassionate thesis."-PW, starred
"Heart-wrenching, timely, and beautifully written, this is a powerful and urgent work."-SLJ, starred
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 13 members
What a mesmerizing, heart wrenching, sad but hopeful book this was about domestic violence based on the author’s life. Rex has a very angry mom and step dad who are always mad at him, it seems, all the time. His stepdad ridicules Tex for being Mexican which makes Rex wonder why is he with his mom. His mom blames Rex, who was away, for his baby sister dying before she was born. Rex carries this guilt for a long time but thinks about her a lot, and it gives him hope at times when he needs it. As his mom constantly berates and beats Rex over nothing, he realizes this cycle of pain is a bond between he and his mom. At the end, Rex does survive it all with hope and tells us life can be dark but it will get better,
Wow. What a heavy but necessary story that needs to be shared. Obvious trigger warning for domestic abuse, mental abuse, child abuse. Rex Ogle is great at sharing his personal moments. This book is beautifully written, showing the arc of understanding abuse and how it’s never the victim’s fault. The complexities of how hurt people hurt people. And how it’s still okay to be angry and pissed off about all of it. It breaks my heart that this happened to the author, it breaks my heart that it still happens to kids and this story needs to be shared because kids will be able to relate. But without heartbreak can we ever appreciate the joy? This book is going to help a lot of human beings.
Thank you Netgalley for providing me an ARC of this book. This book is devastating and goes deep into the effects of cyclical violence. Marisa, in particular, is just heartbreaking. I'm amazed by the author's resilience. I appreciate that he includes such a crucial afterword to others who are coping with trauma. There aren't many books written with teens in mind that speak so directly to these issues. This is a tough read, but well worth the time. Punching Bag is a masterwork on the subject of generational violence, self-loathing, poverty, and resilience. I am so happy Rex made it out of there and that he is now strong enough to share his story.
Punching Bag by Rex Ogle Pub Date: 05 Oct 2021 I finished this in one sitting...just couldn't put it down. This is Ogle's memoir of his childhood growing up in an abusive household. From his mother blaming him at a young age for the death of his unborn baby sister to his step-father beating him when he tries to protect his mother, your heart absolutely goes out to Rex and any child who has had to endure abuse from the very people who are supposed to keep them safe. Heartbreaking to say the least, but what he wants you to remember: he survived, and so can you. ❤️
Rex Ogle shares his story with domestic violence openly and honestly (which is quite rare in YA books). He chronicles family experiences that often left his family isolated, and notes how much his mom struggled to leave his stepdad. Throughout the book, he notes how he never gave up hope for a better future and his desire to not continue the cycles of abuse. While heartbreaking, the story reminds the reader (and others who may be in a similar situation) that there is hope for a better future. I wish a bit more would have been shared about Rex's life after leaving his home, but the story was still incredibly well written, and it's perfectly communicated for HS students. I hope Rex continues to share his life experiences as it's so important that students, especially those in challenging situations, to see a brighter future.
Thank you to NetGalley for a free eARC copy of this book, in exchange for my honest review. My little heart aches for Rex in this "story" (I put it in quotes because it is his real life experience, not some made-up narrative). I have been rendered speechless for what to say as a response to this book (which, if you ask my partner, isn't something that happens often). I said this for "Free Lunch", and it still applies to "Punching Bag"... this is one of those books that if all kids read, we'd be raising more compassionate humans.
Punching Bag, Rex Ogle's follow up to Free Lunch, was a gut wrenching look into the life of a young boy as he navigates the hardships and pitfalls of living with abusive and mentally ill parents. As in Free Lunch, the reader is taken on a journey with Rex as he longs for a life free from violence, as well as mental and verbal abuse. Ogle gives an authentic account of living with abusive parents and the ways he longed and learned to find moments of hope, as well as ways to change patterns for his own life. At times, it was an extremely hard read, but an important journey for readers.
Punching Bag is the powerful sequel to Rex Ogle’s memoir, Free Lunch, which came out in 2019. Free Lunch has been a favorite among my students ever since. Punching Bag continues Ogle’s story into his high school years. Punching Bag is a tough story. Ogle recounts his teen years, which are peppered by physical abuse at the hands of his mother and stepfather. This is a story of trauma and survival, of family and breaking the cycle of violence, and of rising above and moving forward. The writing is beautiful and Rex’s story will break your heart. Recommended for high school and up; some readers will undoubtedly see themselves in this story. For others, it will be a window into the often-hidden world of domestic violence.
Rex Ogle first grabbed my attention with his memoir Free Lunch which detailed his familial struggles while he was in middle school. His newest release, Punching Bag, continues his story, sharing his experiences in high school. Many students face struggles due to poverty. Ogle shares brutally honest accounts of his family's difficulties paying for basic necessities and utilities. Additionally, Ogle details life with a parent facing mental health concerns as well as physical and verbal abuse. This book should be required reading for all educators. Reading about Ogle's life experiences will help to foster empathy for the struggles that some students are facing.