Caged Warrior

Caged Warrior
Age Range
Release Date
April 01, 2014
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McCutcheon Daniels' life is full of bone-cracking violence. As a star fighter in the gritty underground Mixed Martial Arts circuit in the poorest section of Detroit, McCutcheon fights under the tutelage of his volatile and violent father, not so much for himself but to survive as protector of his beloved five-year old sister, Gemma. We get to know McCutcheon as he battles opponents who are literally trying to kill him. Mr. Freedman, his science teacher, spots his intellectual potential, befriends him, and encourages him to enter the lottery for a scholarship to an elite charter school so he can obtain a first-class education. He is at first dead-set against the idea, and of course his tyrannical father forbids it. But the school's headmaster, Kaitlyn, a student assigned to be his guide, and Mr. Freedman continue to encourage him to consider it. His father and the Priests, the local Mafia-like crew that run Detroit's organized crime, have other plans for McCutcheon. For them, he is simply a tool to make them money. And when that cash flow is threatened, his father hits McCutcheon where it hurts most-he hides Gemma and threatens his own son that he'll never see his beloved sister again if he doesn't play by the Priests' rules. For the first time in his life, McCutcheon reaches out for help. Mr. Freedman turns out to have a very mysterious past and not only helps McCutcheon find his sister but also his mother who had simply disappeared on McCutcheon's 13th birthday. All seems well, but happy endings aren't really something McCutcheon feels he can rely on. And he may be right. A ferocious novel, Caged Warrior is like a great fight movie, a tour-de-force of relentless conflict, but one that is leavened with rich characters and meaningful and loving relationships.

Editor review

1 review
I simply couldn't put it down!
(Updated: October 07, 2014)
Overall rating
Writing Style
CAGED WARRIOR takes the reader to places they had no idea they could even go between the pages of a book. The poorest parts of Detroit, on of the poorest and most dangerous cities in the U.S., is where McCutcheon "M.D." Daniels calls home. He's only 16, but M.D. is the breadwinner for his family. He drops off and picks up his little sister Gemma from school every single day. He makes dinner, gets Gemma new winter clothes, and cleans the house. Not only is M.D. basically his little sister's dad, he is an underground cage fighter. That's how he makes all the money for his family.

That's right, this 16 year-old has been trained from birth to be the best Mixed Martial Arts fighter in the city.

M.D.'s father is the driving force behind this lifestyle. He's an awful human being, and an even worse father, an addict, and a gambler. M.D. and Gemma's mother left them years ago, and they're stuck with this horrible dad to keep a roof over their heads. When M.D. gets the rare opportunity to attend a prestigious charter school he thinks there is no way that will happen - not only is he not interested, he can't take Gemma with him, and his father is already pressuring him to drop out of school next year.

M.D. has to deal with some incredibly difficult issues. Raising his little sister, getting good grades, training every morning and afternoon, surviving cage fights every Saturday - this kid is lucky to be alive. His struggles are real, they are life-and-death, and they are well-written. The prose is realistic and interesting. The dialogue is a little hard to follow sometimes, but it is very true-to-life. Overall this is a great book that I think hasn't gotten enough attention this year.

If you are looking for a really intense book about really intense issues, if you want something to keep a reluctant reader's attention, or if you want to get a book in the hands of boys dealt a rough hand in life, then pick this one up. It was a fast read because I simply couldn't put it down.
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